White High School Teacher ‘Scared’ After Students Report Her For Teaching About Race
A South Carolina English teacher was scared to return to the classroom after her students claimed her lessons on race made them feel “ashamed to be white.”
Six months after being reported to the district’s school board, English Language and Composition teacher Mary Woods described feeling “scared” on the first day of school. The 47-year-old white educator returned to Chapin High School on Aug. 7 after being accused of making her all-white advanced placement class feel “ashamed to be white” because she assigned the students Ta-Nehisi Coates’s Between the World and Me in February. The New York Times bestseller is a deep dive into the Black American experience.
Woods claimed she felt “betrayed” after two students emailed complaints to a school board member four days after she assigned the Coates book. The emails were obtained by The Washington Post. One student wrote, “I feel, to an extent, betrayed by Mrs. Woods. I feel like she has built up this idea of expanding our mind through the introduction of controversial topics all year just to try to subtly indoctrinate our class.”
Two parents also reportedly complained. Woods was instructed not to continue with her original plans for the rest of the school year.
Now that the new school year is underway, Woods has to contend with the fragility of her students and grapple with the fear and angst she feels from the unwarranted callout. She texted a fellow educator, “Will you walk in with me? I’m scared.”
The self-professed white liberal teacher was not the first to face backlash for addressing race in academics. BLACK ENTERPRISE reported last year that hostile parents forced Cecelia Lewis, a Black woman middle school educator, out of her position in Georgia. The white parents were reportedly angry about rumors that the Cherokee County School District planned to teach critical race theory (CRT) even though CRT is only taught at the college level.
Ironically, the Chapin High School students are seemingly the only students who felt their teacher made them feel “ashamed to be white.” A 2021 study from Inside Higher Ed revealed that white students didn’t feel demonized, targeted, guilty, or ashamed after studying the history and cultures of other races. Moreover, those students opined that what they learned humanized their peers.