Loony Running The Asylum
- Oct 23, 2002
- Frozen in Michigan
- Old Fart
- Basic Beliefs
- Don't be a dick.
Amid a growing furor over critical race theory, Matthew Hawn told his high school students in rural Kingsport, Tenn., that White privilege is ‘a fact’
WaPo link.A lifelong resident of Kingsport, Hawn was well aware his liberal views made him an outlier in his overwhelmingly White, mostly conservative community. But that had never mattered before. He had taught in the Sullivan County school system for 16 years without any trouble. And he had taught the class that got him fired, “Contemporary Issues,” for nearly a decade without a single parent complaint.
Then at the start of last school year, he made a pronouncement during a discussion about police shootings that would derail his career. White privilege, he told his nearly all-White class, is “a fact.”
Hawn apologized after at least one parent objected. But a few months later, he assigned the Ta-Nehisi Coates essay “The First White President,” spurring more parent complaints. This time school officials issued a letter of reprimand to Hawn for one-sided teaching.
After that, Hawn promised to stay away from the topic. But in late April, a student mentioned White privilege during a class discussion about the trial of Derek Chauvin — the White Minneapolis police officer who murdered George Floyd by kneeling on the Black man’s neck — and Hawn could not help himself. He navigated to YouTube and pulled up “White Privilege,” a scathing and profane four-minute poetry performance by Kyla Jenée Lacey.
“Oh, am I making you uncomfortable?” the Black writer demands at one point. “Try a cramped slave ship.”
“I will probably get fired for showing this,” Hawn joked before hitting play. Less than a month later, he was.