Jaclyn DeForge, our Resident Literacy Expert, began her career teaching first and second grade in the South Bronx, and went on to become a literacy coach and earn her Masters of Science in Teaching. In her column she offers teaching and literacy tips for educators.
I live in Astoria, Queens, one of the most racially, culturally and ethnically diverse neighborhoods in New York, and my apartment building absolutely reflects that diversity. My neighbors are from Egypt, Bangladesh, and the Dominican Republic and the building is warm and lively, full of immigrant families with young children.
Last week, New York City public schools were closed for Rosh Hashanah, and on Monday, my neighbors’ children played in our building’s courtyard late into the night. My windows were open, and as I sat reading I caught snippets of their conversations as they laughed and ran and screamed and played. But when I stopped and I listened closely, it occurred to me that I kept hearing the same word over and over: the “n-word.”
It was just falling out of their mouths, every other word, as if it were just a synonym for “friend” or “dude.” This saddened me for a couple reasons: