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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Why did they try to Herman Cain this kid?

By now you've seen the story of a nine-year-old North Carolina boy who was suspended from school because he was overheard telling a friend that he thought a teacher was cute.

What I don't understand is: when did it become a crime to find someone attractive? And what does a nine-year-old know about sex or sexual harassment? Little Emanyea probably doesn't spend his evenings watching the news where the headlines about former GOP presidential hopeful Herman Cain dominate the broadcast. Even if he does, what does a nine-year-old know about sex?
The national media picked up this story and I'm sure the Gaston County School System was embarrassed.
As it should've been.
Then the details unfolded slowly. Here's what the Gaston Gazette reported:
A media firestorm broke after the mother of a fourth-grade student spoke out about her son being suspended after he reportedly told another student a teacher was cute. Chiquita Lockett received a letter from the school explaining that her son was suspended for sexual harassment when he said a teacher was “fine” in a suggestive tone and had been warned about calling other students bad names.
A suggestive manner? Who's the one with his or her mind in the gutter? I'm going out on a short limb here and pointing a judgmental finger at the adult who overheard the conversation. Yes, the unnamed substitute teacher. 
Emanyea, 9, was suspended for three days after a substitute teacher overheard him tell another student a teacher was cute, said mother Chiquita Lockett. Emanyea served a one-day, in-school suspension and two days out of school, she said.
School officials determined Tuesday that no sexual harassment happened during their investigation and the child’s suspension won’t count against him. The school was going to send an official letter of apology to the family and the superintendent tried to call the family to apologize.

Way to put a child behind the eight-ball. But something changed Tuesday night. The school decided that there was no sexual harassment. The principal "retired," although he said he was forced out. Here's what he said to the paper: 
“I made a mistake, but I’ve worked for Gaston County Schools for 44 years and (Gaston County Schools Superintendent) Reeves McGlohon could have cared less,” said Bostic. “One mistake in 44 years. And I’m not given the benefit of the doubt."
“I’ve had the best of evaluations my entire career and because of some syndicated columnist in New York or California, I don’t have a job.”

Did Emanyea get the benefit of the doubt? I feel sorry for anyone losing their job this close to Christmas, but Bostic wasn't fired. He retired. He will get benefits from the state. He's not going to be standing on the unemployment line for Christmas. In fact, (channeling my inner Barbara Bush) he might be better off. Living off the state without having to go to work every day.

Let's be honest here, had Emanyea not been a little black boy, none of this would've happened. It's as if some people thing black people are sexualized from birth. The fact that we haven't seen a picture of the cute teacher makes me think she was a white lady. And in some parts of this country —even the one I live in—a black man finding a white woman attractive is going to cause people to overreact. Welcome to post racial America. 

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