So, I was grading papers this evening, and for the first time in my teaching life I came across a paper that I’m going to label as “racist.” It is important to note that the students had to read an article suggesting that American colleges and universities have issues with diversity and community. The students were asked to propose a solution to this or prove that the author was incorrect and that there was no issue. Overall the papers were not that great, but when I came across the “racist” one I was forced to stop in my tracks.
First of all, the paper was not a good one. The quality of writing was not up to the level that I expect my students to write at. It was choppy and needed a lot of work with argument, thesis, and organization. That being said, the student then had a paragraph that had some pretty racist comments. The student was discussing segregation and how it wasn’t something society accepted, but it made sense for people to stick with their own kind. This was always qualified by the student suggesting that some groups made white people uncomfortable because of how they were different. The student also wrote how people in one race only exposed to their own race would be uncomfortable around people different from them and would only communicate with their own race because of their comfort level. I’m paraphrasing of course but I think you get the picture. I would love to post the paragraph up here but I like my job, and would like to keep it.
I do not by any means want to make excuses for this student, but is it possible that maybe this student trying to say that people mingle with people they feel they already have a connection to, a similar background? Is it possible that the student is just using this paragraph as an example of that?
To be honest, I don’t think the student realizes what they are doing. Or maybe I want to believe they don’t realize it. Think about it. This is this student’s first college English paper. If this student isn’t the great communicator, isn’t it possible that this is a mistake or should I say miscommunication, that happened late at night after trying to pump pages out?
I’m trying to decide if I should use this paragraph as example when I’m teaching. I’m concerned, first and foremost, the student will be highly offended. I’m also worried that it will lead to a blowout in the classroom where students start spouting off and possibly over reacting.
Currently, I’m at quite a loss for words. Paper grading really takes it out of me.