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June 17, 2009



Oh I'm sorry Habtam had to have such a bad first impression. My son is also the only black kid in his class and school. We live in Italy so it's hard to find racially diverse classes in small towns, in Turin, it's easier but in the small towns, not so. When these things happen I find that the teachers tend to downplay alot, at least they did in our school. My son is much like Habtam, a bit shy, very enthusiastic about school and has only recently begun to verbalize "bad things" (he has gotten hit in the past and never said a word).

When I picked up Abe's final report card last Tuesday and mentioned the racial slur that had been said to my son, the teacher pooh-poohed it (he was told he was brown like s++t) and said it's just kids name calling and was surprised because the kid doing the name-calling doesn't usually do stuff like this....this is the same kid that months ago provoked Abe so much that Abe tried to spit on him (missed and hit a friend instead just goes to show you Abe's not a spitter).

So...I gave her a handout about a black kid and white kid, with drawings and statements like, "I was born black, when I'm cold I am still black, you were born white, when you're cold you turn blue...when you get sunburned, you turn red, I'm always black...final line is why do they call me Coloured ? I told her I'm available to come in to talk about race and diversity and how we are all the same but we are all different, to talk about adoption whatever to get them talking about race and diversity. I don't think they will ever call me to present, but I wanted to make sure they knew I am available.

I think you did the right thing to call the teacher and mention your concerns, and I hope that things get settled. My son has to spend the next 4 yours in his school too..and we're just done with 1st grade.


That doesn't sound right for the teacher to have said something like that. I'd be worried for H as well. His teacher is already showing signs of not being concerned that in a one-room school, one of the children is treating another child poorly. Of course you want to focus on the positive aspects of the day but that doesn't mean you ignore the negative ones, especially when Habtamu doesn't normally complain about things like that. For him to say something means it probably was pretty hurtful, and that's DEFINITELY something that the teacher needs to address. I'm glad she said that she would talk to other teachers but her resistance in doing so is a little worrisome. I would maybe ask her if she has any ideas on how to handle this if the other teachers DID notice something, or if something happens again on another day. If she doesn't have any ideas, it might be a good time to work with her to find some lessons that include themes about racial diversity.

Nina Dec

the insensitivity is outrageous. these are children who have been through more in their short (sweet) lives, than probably most of the teachers at that school - let alone the children. a little concern would be highly appreciated. i am so sorry erin - i do have a few ideas for you - but can't find your email again!! new computer - everything is lost from the old. could you send it along to me?! i'd love to catch up!! missing the family coulter - xo


Well, yeah, that would definitely ring some alarm bells for me. Any kind of bullying - whether racially motivated or not - should be unacceptable to a grade school teacher in this day and age. I know that at Spike's school - they are very sensitive to this sort of situation, and spend a lot of time doing their best to talk it out with both kids and parents. And of course, if there were racial overtones (which I guess couldn't really be ascertained from your conversation with H this time around) that's an even bigger deal and should be taken very seriously by his teacher.

It seems to me that the teacher could have heard what you had to say, expressed concern, talked about some ways of addressing it, and then said, "and just so you're not feeling too worried - to my eye, H did seem to have a good day..." etc etc.

It's important to feel like you have an ally in your child's teacher. It's extremely unsettling when you don't feel like you can totally trust the person you're depending upon to take care of your child for 6+ hours a day.

I wish I had a better solution for you. But I totally commiserate.


would love an update soonish. I've been thinking a good bit about your boys and school this year.

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