Racism in America is an insidious, omnipresent beast that lives in every level of our society. But some of its most pernicious manifestations are in the school system, giving us a terrifying glimpse into how casually these evil ideas and sentiments are normalized and instilled into the next generation.
A New Jersey teacher has been fired after going on a racist rant directed at some of his Black students. Howard Zlotkin, who no longer works at Dickinson High School in Jersey City, lost his mind during a Zoom class about climate change that somehow ended with him screaming that police brutality victim George Floyd was a “f**king criminal who wouldn’t comply.”
It’s unclear what provoked Zlotkin’s outburst, but he clearly has some unresolved issues with his family members and was taking it out on his students. “If you think I’m privileged then f**k you, because my daughter thinks I’m privileged and I don’t speak to her!” yelled Zlotkin, who would later give the middle finger to one of his students.
Zlotkin also felt the urge to share his complaints about Floyd to the class: “I hear people whining and crying about Black Lives Matter, but George Floyd was a f**cking criminal and he got arrested and he got killed because he wouldn’t comply and the bottom line is we make him a f**cking hero!”
He appeared to order four of his Black students to write him an essay and cursed out 17-year-old Timmia Williams when she chose not to write it for him. “I don’t think you can make a case. You know what Timmia? You’re full of s–t too!” raged Zlotkin.
Unsurprisingly, Zlotkin has been let go. The school district issued a statement saying that “the school was in the process of taking statements from students today before proceeding with disciplinary actions, and then the second video surfaced. The teacher will not have access to students or the school as we proceed. We are appalled by the statements, profanity, disrespect and treatment of students.”
This is only the latest in a series of disturbing racist incidents involving schools. A California mother filed a complaint with her child’s school after hearing their sixth-grade teacher on Zoom tell the kid that they were taught to lie: “This is what Black people do. This is what Black people do. White people do it, too, but Black people do it way more,” said the teacher.
In Texas, a teacher was recently suspended for putting their foot on the neck of a 10-year-old Black boy and taking a picture of it, while a group of white students at Aledo ISD are under investigation for holding an online “slave auction” of their black peers.
Original reporting by Minyvonne Burke at NBCNews.
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Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.