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Be Careful Who You Step On When You Stamp Out Racism

, , , , , , , | Learning | July 15, 2021

We’re on the train to school camp. I’m playing chess with [Classmate #1]. Meanwhile, [Classmate #2] is chatting with the homeroom teacher of another class.

Classmate #2: *Loudly* “And [Classmate #1] never does his homework.”

Classmate #1: “Huh?!”

Me: “Pot calling the kettle black!”

Classmate #2: “Ah-ha! Everyone, [My Name] is being racist! He called [Classmate #1] black!”

Me: “Oh, s***.”

I forgot that [Classmate #1] is African-American.

Me: “No! I didn’t mean it that way!”

Classmate #1: “Yeah, I know. No offence taken.”

He turns to face [Classmate #2].

Classmate #1: “What do you mean, I never hand in homework, you hypocrite? You’re the one that hands in the least amount of homework in class!”

The argument continues on for a while, but eventually, our own homeroom teacher shuts us all up. She comes up to me afterward.

Teacher: “And what’s this about you being racist?”

Me: “Nothing. It was just a badly-used phrase.”

She frowns a bit and then looks at the chessboard.

Teacher: “When we get back, I want you writing lines about not being racist.”

Me: “Why?! I’m not racist!”

Teacher: “Uh-huh.” *Picks up my queen* “Then why are you making the African-American boy play black?”

Classmate #1: “Hey, I prefer black in chess. I like going second. I chose it.”

Teacher: “Don’t worry. You don’t need to defend him. I’ll sort [My Name] out when we get back to school.”

Me: *Sighs* “I can see that I’m not winning this argument. But I insist that you talk to my father about this.”

Teacher: “Oh, I will. He needs to know that racism is intolerable and that such behaviour will not be tolerated in this school.”

She then flips around the chessboard, such that [Classmate #1] now has white.

Teacher: “And if I see you being racist to anyone ever again, I swear to God that I will find a way to drum your a** out of school faster than you can say ‘goodbye’.”

She smugly trotted off. [Classmate #1] and I sighed and continued playing.

The look on her face when she saw my father a few weeks later was priceless. I looked absurdly like my white mother, so nobody realised that my father was an African-American. Naturally, he disbelieved every single accusation of me being racist and basically ordered [Teacher] to let me off the hook.

She did that, but she always gave me the stink-eye in every homeroom. I was really glad to leave her behind when I graduated.