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Latina Lista: News from the Latinx perspective > Life Issues > Children > Nine-Year-Old Suffered Hate-Crime Suspension Because He Used the Term “Brown People”

Nine-Year-Old Suffered Hate-Crime Suspension Because He Used the Term “Brown People”

LatinaLista — A disturbing event happened at an elementary school in Phoenix, Arizona this month. A 9-year-old boy was suspended for committing a hate crime — he is accused of using the term “brown people.”
Whether or not he actually used the term is questionable but what is verifiable is that the principal made a rather surprising remark to the boy.

She told him, as she recounted to the boy’s mother later during a recorded conference:

“As we said to (the boy) when he was in here, in your heart you may have that (racist) feeling, and that is OK if that is your personal belief.”

She went on to say that he should keep those feelings to himself.
It’s one thing to respect differences of opinion but it’s another to bypass a perfect opportunity to educate the young so that those kinds of personal beliefs are never formed.


The story goes that the 9-year-old who was suspended was involved in a fight with another student who happened to be Latino.
It also happened that the Latino student’s mother worked at the elementary school as a detention-room officer. For some unknown reason, she was allowed to interrogate the 9-year-old about the fight with her child. At the start of the questioning, the mother/school employee asked the 9-year-old why he didn’t want to cooperate with “brown people.”
The mother of the 9-year-old contends that the other mother put those words in her son’s mouth and that she and her children don’t see race nor use those words or refer to Latinos like that. But if he had said it, his mother wonders why the principal would tell her son that it was okay to have those feelings but to not tell anyone about them and also suspend him for 3 days.
He was also made to stand in front of the classroom and confess to his class that he used the term after he was accused of saying it for a second time.
His mother was so enraged at the school that she withdrew her son and put him in another school and the principal is resigning effective Dec. 24, for “personal” reasons.
As far as the principal in this story is concerned and the teachers and the mother/school employee, all of them acted in a more juvenile fashion than the 9-year-old and the other student.
By asking the student why he couldn’t get along with “brown people,” the mother in this case transferred her own prejudices to the boy.
By telling him it was okay to have those feelings but don’t tell anyone about them, the principal imposed her true feelings about racism onto the boy.
By having him stand up in front of the class and confess to using the term “brown people” now makes that student and everyone in that class associate brown people with something negative and shameful.
The different messages this boy received from the adults who are supposed to be role models in his life were not only confusing but damaging.
From this day forward, this 9-year-old will think only in negative terms when he hears the words “brown people” or sees other Latinos.
That is the biggest shame.
We’ve already seen how race is dividing the adults in this country. Why do we want the same for our children?

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Comment(14)

  • Avatar
    Antonio Gonzalez
    November 28, 2007 at 7:54 pm

    Latina, racism is racism , the
    law is garbage, you se how
    work the racism, and the law
    is nothing. You said child,
    really you thing anybody in
    this country think about child
    yes , only in the tv or other
    show

  • Avatar
    Horace
    November 28, 2007 at 8:49 pm

    “A disturbing event happened at an elementary school in Phoenix, Arizona this month. A 9-year-old boy was suspended for committing a hate crime — he is accused of using the term “brown people.”
    There is no statute of law in any state in this country that declares that the sole act of using racist terms is a hate crime. Speech is still a 1st Amendment right, in spite of it sometimes being objectionable. In order for the child to be guilty of a hate crime, he’d also had to have committed some underlying crime such as assault before being accused and tried in a court of law. The term “hate crime” itself is a contrivence of the extreme left. For example, is killing one’s mother or other family member a hate crime? It’s not on the books as such, but is as equally reprehensible as sinking an axehead into a neighbor while blurting and identifying ones motive as racial motive.
    Also, Marisa, I find one annecdote trivial, as it may hardly be construed by honest, intelligent people as representing the views or actions of Americans at large.

  • Avatar
    Horace
    November 28, 2007 at 8:53 pm

    One more thing, what’s racist about calling people brown? African-Americans are called black people all the time without objection. People call me white and I don’t object. The ACLU should enter into this fray in defense of the boy.

  • Avatar
    Horace
    November 28, 2007 at 9:21 pm

    I can hear it almost as if it were happening in my presence. You, you, youuuuuuu, brown person, you!

  • Avatar
    Horace
    November 28, 2007 at 9:22 pm

    I can hear it almost as if it were happening in my presence. You, you, youuuuuuu, brown person, you!

  • Avatar
    George
    November 28, 2007 at 9:26 pm

    YOU, YOU, YOUUUUUU, BROWN PERSON, YOU!!!!!! Nope, doesn’t strike me as a hate crime.

  • Avatar
    migel
    November 28, 2007 at 9:48 pm

    Horace said: I can hear it almost as if it were happening in my presence. You, you, youuuuuuu, brown person, you! Posted Twice.
    George said:YOU, YOU, YOUUUUUU, BROWN PERSON, YOU!!!!!! Nope, doesn’t strike me as a hate crime. Posted Twice.
    No hate here. Just mocking the story line.

  • Avatar
    Crock
    November 28, 2007 at 9:55 pm

    Horace,
    People call me white and I don’t object.
    They Thought You Were Somebody Else.
    Sorry, I Could Not Resist!

  • Avatar
    Frank
    November 29, 2007 at 9:38 am

    Part of the problem in this country today is PC gone wild. We can’t poke fun at each other. We have to watch how we describe each other no matter how innocent or no matter how it’s intent is not based on racism, someone will make a big deal out of it. It appears we haven’t come as long a ways in this country as we thought when it comes to stop being a nation divided by race but instead going backwards again. Who is responsible for this?

  • Avatar
    Horace
    November 29, 2007 at 10:53 am

    Keep your day job, Crock.

  • Avatar
    diana joe
    November 29, 2007 at 1:45 pm

    A few years ago a little boy whom I love and respect so much for his natural beauty to see life way beyond his own little years- said using great joy in his little kindergarten voice “and guess what momma “?! Theres even a little blue boy in my class”!
    When his young mother invited me to accompany her to further investigate the classmate, to her astonishment and mine we learned the child was African-Cuban-American..We both exchanged HUGE smiles and even a *tear.. we both agreed that at least one little boy in America’s schools had not yet been injected with color coding.
    Hoorah for Matthew!Kudos to his family!

  • Avatar
    laura
    November 29, 2007 at 8:30 pm

    I agree with Marisa and Horace and Frank – a child trying to insult another child is not a crime, let alone a hate crime.
    It is sad for the teacher, and perhaps for the boy’s mother, that they think “brown people” is an insult, and seem to have instilled that sense in the boy.
    Maybe some “white” people (like the teacher?) think only their own skin color is beautiful, and everyone else is ugly or inferior – which is why this became an issue and an incident in the first place. – My guess, though, is 99% of “brown” people would disagree.
    The only reason the “brown” boy’s mother got upset is that she correctly perceived someone was trying to put down her son with a description of his (actually beautiful) skin color. A more appropriate response to hearing of this intended – if not actual – insult or name-calling might have been for her to tell her son, “Yes you are brown and you are the most beautiful and the best boy in the world, and I am very very proud of you.”

  • Avatar
    Frank
    November 29, 2007 at 9:04 pm

    I have never understood why anyone would think that brown skin is ugly. I am very white and I would give anything to have a natural tan. Latino skin color in particular is to be envied not ridiculed.

  • Avatar
    thomas fuller
    December 11, 2007 at 2:59 am

    What happened to this child is totally redicelice.”Brown” used to describe a person, whats wrong with it. We have white, black, and brown people living here in the
    US and we ID them by these colors. The trouble here is that we have to many non-American Mexicans/Mid and South Americans illegally entering the country and staying without
    applying legally to live and work. They and the legal governments of their true homes encourage their citizens to invade the US illegally because these countries do not have the means to take care of their people. Any legal and born American who sides with these invaders is doing nothing but hurting their country. The USA has the legal right to send these invaders back to their country of birth and jail them if they return illegally. Right now we have more then 20 million illegal non Americans living in our country. Does this not tell
    you your taxes are increaseing. These do not have the money to support theirselves. They do what ever they can illegally invade here and we the legal and born citizens have to pay for their medical problems and others by increased taxes.
    This has to stop. Also our government needs to stop letting illegals to stay. Send them home. They are doing nothing but destroying our country. Because theirs are not as nice as ours does not mean we have accept them. SEND BACK TO HOME. RACISM-No. They have a country, then then they should do what is needed to correct their country. Latin is not racism. Example; the crazy comments of Antonio Gonzalez. A typical hispanic who does not want to work. He just expects the government to give him everything for free. I have seen the good and the bad. The bad thinks the government something for nothing. Gonzalez does not want to work, he believes the government owes him everything for doing nothing. Just read his post.

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