The Midwestern Black Professor Teaching MAGA Babies Is Not All Right
“My job wound up being a lot more than I bargained for.”
Last month we published a special series on what it’s like to be Black in the Midwest, and invited you to share your own experiences. Following is one of several submissions by Medium writers that we are excited to share with you.
My job in 2017 was to teach Composition I to new college students, showing them how to express themselves through writing. My role quickly became that of social ambassador to kids who, raised in homes blaring Fox News 24/7 and Confederate flags flying high (yes, even in Indiana), were about to be unleashed onto the world.
It didn’t take long to figure out that aside from bigoted ideas, there was another problem the students had. It came down to simple language. These students still used words to describe Black and Latinx people that hadn’t been acceptable since the 1960s.
I once assigned the fiction story, “Waynes vs. Johnsons of Albemarle County” by Tyrese Coleman. Before the assignment, I had spent the semester teaching the writing process, including how to synthesize a reading into an arguable issue. The students were to find an issue to argue in Coleman’s story and write a short essay argument. The story was heavy with social issues. The one that most of the class — 13 out of 22 students, to be exact — chose to write on was police brutality.
I was momentarily floored by the rampant misinformation and bigoted, anti-Black statements. But, Indiana, outside of the Northwest corner abutting Chicago and a few spots near Indianapolis, was a red state.
Within those 13 essays, students argued that racism should not be tied to police brutality. All 13 used language proclaiming the “race card” was used or the issue at hand was that “the liberals” were trying to “race bait” the right wing voters. Three essays argued that “colored people” or “coloreds” were simply being shot because they were criminals. One essay used the term “fairies” in a homophobic jab at Black Lives Matter.