Coach Tells Student: You Look Like a ‘Future Welfare Recipient’

November 16, 2011  |  

I really don’t understand what’s going on with teachers across America these days. Perhaps it’s the increased access to more news that makes cases of discrimination in the classroom seem more frequent than ever before. Parents of students at Winnetonka High School in Kansas City, MO, are up in arms after Marcus Williams, Jr., a senior there, filed a racial harassment complaint with the school district after his basketball coach, Derek Howard, made offensive remarks to him.

Williams told KCTV5.com that when photography students asked him to pose for a picture, the coach stopped and said the words “future welfare recipient” should be printed beneath the photo.

“I just felt belittled, crushed, and utterly discouraged,” Williams said, adding that this is not coach Howard’s first offense. He said in his past two years of interacting with the coach, he regularly made demoralizing comments either directly to African-American students or about them. Consequently, Williams chose not to try out for basketball this year.

Williams’ father, Marcus Williams, Sr. said he wants Howard removed from his coaching and teaching position with the school. So far, Howard has only been placed on paid leave while under investigation.

Dr. Dan Clemens, the district assistant superintendent released a statement saying:

The behaviors reported by this student do not reflect our professional conduct standards and will not be tolerated. We expect all students to be treated with respect by all staff at all times.

I certainly hope that is the case. It’s not shocking to me that these teachers and coaches have the racist mindsets that they do, but I am surprised that they will so blatantly express their bigotry out in the open. What could be motivating them?

Do you think offensive school staff members expect to be protected by the school and get away with making comments like this? More importantly, what are these comments doing to black students’ self esteem?

Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.

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