Indiana School Embroiled In Controversy Over Use Of N-Word During History Lesson
Mark Twain’s 1884 book The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn has been banned or challenged for using the N-word since it was first published. Trinity Lutheran Church and School in Indiana is in the same position as Mark Twain’s literary landmine.
After a decision to include the N-word in a lesson about plantation owners and enslaved people, parents and students protested. Some people described the lesson as unnecessary. The school, meanwhile, maintained that the historical context was the only one in which it found the use of the word justified. In an email sent to The Daily Beast, Principal Molly Arroyo said, “The incident underscores the importance of sensitive and responsible handling of historical materials in an educational setting, with a commitment to fostering an insightful and respectful learning environment.”
According to NBC 5, the history teacher referred to Twain’s book during her lesson, as the teacher explained in an email they sent to parents.
“I was also talking about why the idea of slavery was so important to plantation owners. I was telling them how the n-word was used as a surname like Mr. or Mrs. as used in Mark Twain’s “Huck Finn,” the email read. “I did use the word in class only to show the difference between Bob Smith, the plantation owner, versus Bob Smith, the slave.”
Trinity Lutheran appears to agree with the teacher’s reasoning as they sent a statement to NBC 5, “It’s crucial to note that this choice was made solely for educational purposes, aimed at fostering a comprehensive understanding of the historical realities associated with the term. The school administration emphasizes that such language is and will continue to be strictly confined to historical teachings and does not endorse or tolerate its use in any other context, particularly when intended to demean or offend.”
Parents contend that the school is not thinking about the potential repercussions on a child’s psyche, one parent told NBC 5. “They’re making it seem like it’s not that big of a deal, and it hurts.”
The parent continued, “I want an apology, I want some kind of action taken, and I want something done about the way that she teaches.”
However, curriculum expert Keturah Proctor said, “Teaching about enslavement means being honest about anti-Blackness and how Black people have been clawing for any chance of true humanity in this experiment known as America. With that, you must be able to openly say that without the forced labor of Black people, there would be no America.”