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I could use some words of wisdom, friends. I don't have any family to turn to. I am all alone here. I turned to this community for support. Please, be gentle if you have some harsh words. I do hope for some constructive feedback, but if negative, please, message me privately. I don't want to start a controversial thread.
So, I am the only Caucasian empoyee at the branch of an educational institution. I drive an hour each way to work and for the most part I really enjoy teaching and I feel like I am making a difference. But this is week 5 and I am really struggling not giving a F, as my friend suggests. I am experiencing a strong issue of racism rearing up its ugly head. I was encouraged to speak to a higher up, which I did. He basically told me that since no one actually said out loud the words black vs white it's in my head and I am probably just gunnysacking. I left unheard. I resigned to just sweep it under the rug and keep on trucking. But the problem persists. Today, the problem surfaced again in an ugly way and I am struggling. I've never been a racist, dated people of different races and ethnicities. But today, more than ever, I am seeing the racism toward me, as a minority here. I am the only educator at this branch as well. The other 2 individuals are support staff. I am doing my best to help all my students, esp the ones who are very low academically. yet, I am told that I am singling a black student out. He's been disrepectful toward me on a few occassions and not doing his work. Just collecting his hours. Then he got brave enough to call me a F B the very next day, got suspended for a few days and everything is hush hush now. No one spoke to me about the incident. More has happened since. I used to go to work excited to teach, but now I am scared to open my mouth. For the first time in 8 months I have medical insurance and benefits, a FT job. I am not a quitter. But I am really struggling with the lack of team work and support in helping these students. I don't know if I should go higher up in the chain of command, to the president of the educational faciltiy or just continue to document things, gunnysack them, as the previous person stated. I don't want to stir anything, especially as a new teacher. But the hostility is so blatantly open it scares me. On one of my lunch breaks one support staff saw me on this site and gasped before I realized he was looking over my shoulder. He Asked me if I am one, to which I replied that I don't discuss my faith or politics at work. I am at a total loss. If I just continue documenting nothing is going to change and I am going to drag my feet with work. If I speak out I might not be heard, as no one actually said the word race. I don't want to be paranoid and start recording every encounter. What would you do? THanks

ForeignNata 5 Sep 19

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I can’t say what you should do but what I would do in that situation is stay cool, start looking for another job, not necessarily with the intention of taking it but as a backup so you can negotiate from a position of power, or to fall back on if things go south. Then I would try to make a friend, to have an ally there, and then make another. Meanwhile I’d take it all as a challenge, do the best I could do with the bad situation, and not worry about the outcome because I had made every reasonable effort to cover all my bases while being fair and humane to all others concerned.
If another job comes through that actually looks more appealing... I’d be gone! If things start to turn around before a better job shows up... I’d feel triumphant, but I’d prolly still keep an eye on the job market; that really sounds like a permanently stressful environment.

skado Level 8 Sep 19, 2018

I've worked in toxic environments before... Leaving felt amazing.. Even if the future is frightening.

OwlRN Level 4 Sep 19, 2018

you have fallen in with a bad crowd. you didn't go looking for it and you had no way of knowing. Unfortunately the only person you can change is yourself. The other people, no... So it looks like you will have to get another job.

@bigpawbullets Aw thanks for that! But I'm officially retired and have worked my share of jobs with good and not so good groups.


I would suggest engaging them in conversation.

Often racism stems from ignorance and long held beliefs that have been ingrained since childhood. Ask this person for advice, opinion on any matter, be genuinely interested in them. Sopprt them, ask if you can help them. Then if you find they continue to be rude and disrespectful, that's when I would take other actions.


Decide if this is a fight you want to fight.
Documentation is very important.
If you want to fight this contact your union or teachers association for guidance.
If you are getting nowhere, and still want to fight then contact the ACLU for help.
It just depends on how far you are willing to go.


"Then he got brave enough to call me a F B the very next day, got suspended for a few days and everything is hush hush now"

That incident is grounds enough to justify wearing body a cam and recording.
Document, document, document.

But, also, lay out the guidelines for grades...and if work/testing falls short ...give the appropriate grade.
Don't you dare cower or chicken out.
Grades are meaningless unless there are solid metrics behind them.
You are actually cheating the other students if you pass someone who should have been failed.


As others have advised.. the most likely path to being happier will likely require you to find a different job. In the mean time, don't give up, with time a different path will likely open itself up to you.. it could even be as something as simple as you need to be there a certain length of time before your accepted.


With every conflict, I try to stay as far away from emotions as possible, even though it is usually emotions that cause conflict. So when someone calls me a name or accuses me of some slight or action that is not true, I start calmly acknowledging the way they seem to feel (angry, hurt, mad at me, whatever), and then ask them what they think would be the right thing. But you have to be able to stay cool headed and be ready for any type of answer, so you may want to practice with someone else first.
And, if you feel you have to take this to a superior, it's usually better, at least in the U.S., to go to them as if you are looking for help and advice from them in handling one difficult person, or one issue, and not as if you are trying to 'report' that person, even if you are. Managers here want it to be their idea to take disciplinary action, not as a response to a complaint from you. And continue to document what happens, but unless required, I wouldn't share with superiors on a daily basis, even if I put notes in the students file that often. Record keeping is always very important. Whatever you do, don't let a toxic environment affect your health and well being. You may want to consider looking for alternative employment where you will be more appreciated. Good luck.


Hi! In your post, you are alleging "blatant" racism, but you give no specific examples. Can you elaborate on that? If we knew just what the specific incidence(s) of racism are we would be better able to advise you or comment constructively.


I taught in a title 1 school for 15 years. I look white but people don’t know what’s inside. I always was fair but when setting classroom culture and rules, often got accused of being “racist” by one of the students. My dad was raised in Swaziland, South Africa and my mom was born in Turkey. I was born in England, my brother was born in Japan. My grandparents were immigrants. How can I be racist? It’s very unfair and I always tried to be reasonable with the student and explain why the word they were using was not the correct one. Dealing with the parents was a whole other matter. I would not meet with a parent alone but would ask a counselor or admin to sit in. All in all, I loved my job 99% of the time.

I hope you find peace and support. One of the reasons I joined here. I’m spending 6 months in the South from California and the racism, over-zealous religionism, and politics is starting to get to me.

TMis Level 4 Sep 20, 2018

I'm sure you didn't base your educational pursuits to listen to how and perform. I think this individual may like you and is testing you or throwing you into the open for everyone to view your reactions. I had a student pull this once in front of the whole class by saying "You Don't Like Me" and I calmly addressed the whole class by telling the individual and the whole class " That I don't like any of you"
You are not in a personality contest. You are there to educate, further and develop and being the odds are 100+ vs. 1 keep the perspective that the mentioned individual has to realize that if he has an issue with you to go see a Guidance Counselor but there are 99 others whom are looking for brighter horizons. Race is always a cheap way of coping out for one who does not wish to apply himself, but wants to drag everyone else down.
Everyone is not going to agree with you or be compatible with your way of presentation. You have to define yourself as an educator first and foremost and not a big brother or sister to anyone. Sliding someone by will hurt them later on. Stopping them makes them and everyone watching that you have character, purpose and standards.


It sounds like you would be better off biding your time for now. Don't make waves when there is nothing concrete that you can point to. Work on personal relationships. Don't get flustered or angry. Keep your cool. Document everything noteworthy, but keep it private. Don't email on sensitive issues until you have all your ducks in a row.

And even then, think twice before hitting "send."


I would document everything. You say you work in a branch, which gives me the impression there may be other locations. Maybe ypu can request a transfer? Bottom line, its not a good fit for you if you are feeling harassed in any way. As an educator, you should feel like you are contributing to the growth of your students. If you feel this obstacle is too great to do an effective job, then unfortunately, the longer the stay, the more disheartened you're going to feel. If you choose to stay, put your time in, get your resume out there and keep moving forward. Good luck in your decision.


Document everything, time dates, witness's. Ask for a hearing. I assume you are Union, talk to your rep and local. Tell the pic (person in charge) you need the job and just want to do a good job. At some point you have to face the accusers. Part of understanding racism is realizing that we all have the same fears and, yes, bigotry. Your only option is transparency. You also have to have thick skin, starting any job creates threats to other employees real or otherwise. We all have challenges, I cannot realistically judge yours but you have to make a decision, do you really need the job? If so, hold your head up, go to work and do the best you can. Take comfort in the fact that while there is unfairness many have suffered worse and good work is hard to criticize over time. Prove yourself.

I totally agree with this . Hope it works out for you. Too bad that other staff don’t seem to be supportive. Quitting definitely won’t solve anything. Hold your course .?

clark summed up what I would do really well. Let me add the importance of covering your ass in these situations. The second you come forward you make yourself a target, have real and relevant evidence and a clear goal in complaining. Make clear that you will go up the line till issues are properly address.

Of course race is an issue, the US is full of race issues. More so in the south. Much like the black people who get harassed by just existing who just now get attention due to the prevalence of cell phone video, you need to have a ace in the whole when it comes to "your word against his" situations. I am sorry you have to deal with this but the issue will persist until it gets proper scrutiny.


I am a retired LRSD high school teacher and taught in an inner city school with a mixed and very diverse student population. I would recommend when you have conferences with troubling students and or their parents, ALWAYS have an administrator present during these sessions. Their is no excuse for rude behavior. Most kids that show out like this are not up to grade level for whatever reasons and remove themselves from the learning environment by misbehaving.

There not their.


@ForeignNata -- Natalie, one of our obligations to the self is to be aware of our surroundings and circumstances so that we can avoid overloading ourselves with stress. Stress is not good for us and it is also not good for those with whom we interact. This sounds like one of those situations wherein there is no real solution. That is, it appears to me that you might find some workaround, but be left with a constant source of stress with no way to alleviate it. I hope I'm wrong, but I would resign myself to being prepared to leave if it happens to be a no-win situation. You owe it to yourself.

Thank you! It is stressful and all the other instructors are looking for other jobs, some are just retiring. THe director of the program just got fired, no one knows what's going to happen to the program.


Hold on, this is going to be lengthy response.

First, I teach at a historically black high school where 3 out of 894 students are white and 4 or Hispanic or other. Staff is about 15% white. I have had my problems with students at first, but now they know that I am on their side and those problems have gone away. I will cover why later. I still have problems with admin. I went almost all last year from August to March complaining that A/C needed to be fixed before I had a heart attack. When I finally had a heart attack they fixed it. We recorded triple digit temps. Had a student put hand sanitizer and crayon shavings in my drink and post on Instagram without me knowing. Admin investigated and told students not to tell me and still have not told me anything. Now have me teaching 11 classes instead of 6, 2 classes at the same time for 5 periods.

Second, are you a member of a teacher's union? If not I highly recommend either NEA or AFT. I am a member of both. If you are a member contact your union rep.

Thirdly, even though it is difficult, focus only your students and ignore the rest.


Find a nanny cam on the internet and record EVERYTHING! If it's a nanny cam you may forget you have it on and not seem paranoid. This is a situation where you prepare for the worst but hope for the best. It's a CYA situation. (Cover Your Ass). You may have a lawsuit in your future. Be prepared. And start putting in applications in other places in the meantime.

Check local and state laws concerning recording another person without their knowledge especially minors.

Not allowed to record students in a public school.

Every state has different rules/laws. Federally, It is legal to record any interaction that includes oneself, without eliciting permission from other participants.
Purchase a digital audio recorder and record your lectures/classroom work. Record your conversations with superiors,... All for purposes of documenting your activities, and self improvement.
These recordings, along with your written daily diary, will be of use when it comes time for them to attempt to fire you for incompetency.

My preferred acronym is ACE - Arse Covering Exercise.


As soon as you turn to Admin, you become Everyone's enemy and considered a problem.
That is my experience working in an all-male environment in a shipyard in the 80's. Carried a big wrench, loud mouth, and sense of humor with me at all times, settled stuff "privately", became not only accepted but beloved, sort of.
You may be too tender for this environment, is there somewhere you could transfer out to, for a fresh start?


Being Hispanic... I can say I had received more racism from blacks than of whites despite my non white skin color. I had to live outside of usa to learn that races are not colored!!! You have to be True to Yourself. To think that a "minority" in this country will not use numbers to his/her advantage when available is pretty Naive. Go with your Conscience. Keep a ledger, document everything. I know is a Tough Spot for you because the "minority" in your workplace rather have another "minority" in your place. Like sharks... if they smell blood in the water... they will feel empowered!!! Give the grades they deserve. Found another place to work... this is about You and should be about You. Nobody else is going to look out for you and america in all different manifestations, still sucks. Find a better place to work. And wishing you the Best of Lucks.


Humans are human and all humans are capable of acting in a discriminatory manner. Looking for a new job is likely a good idea. When you get to your new job, remember how this felt, as other minorities are put in this same type of situation all the time and their concerns are not taken seriously. It may be hard but look at this as an opportunity to get a better understanding of human behavior and for you to draw lessons and learn from it. Good luck.


Change schools/district. There are kids and coworkers EVERYWHERE who will appreciate your efforts.


Your story reminds me of my fist years as a teacher. One hour drive every day - - Started on a Native American reservation and although I was not the only white person there, I was one of less then a dozen of over 500 people.

Although I eventually managed to befriend several elders, (and was publicly awarded a star blanket) I can relate to being the wrong color. Because of the color of my skin, (they knew no other trait) the all native cafeteria workers called me "waSHEcho" “washecho” means taker of fat or white person. waSHEcho meant "dis-questing sticky shit that stains your skins with a rancid stench, utterly repulsive. One day I placed my entire contents of my cafeteria lunch on my plate (that I paid a good amount of money for) on one spoon. That was the last day I ate there as I chose to purchase old bread at the bread store and eat two slices a day (more food then I was getting at the cafeteria) for lunch.

The next year three of the cooks from the cafeteria preached every Monday morning welcome back to school in the auditorium for grades think - 9. They were all products of Catholic boarding school (US gov gave church money to (civilize) natives. These women were fully indoctrinated.

They taught the kids:

You are worthless
You are evil
You deserve to burn in hell forever because an evil woman listened to a snake and seduced a man into eating a fruit.
The world is an evil place. It is only a testing ground to find those worthy of heaven with faith.
The church is the only place that is not evil. All else on the earth is evil.
Because you are evil and worthless, you will burn in hell forever unless you come to the church to beg Jesus for his forgiveness
The devil is real and lives on the earth.
The devil is stronger then you.
You will do bad things because you are weaker then the devil and the devil controls you. But that’s ok because you don’t control yourself because you are so weak. As long as you come to the church and beg Jesus for forgiveness because he died for your evil sins you will not burn in hell forever.

I understood the foundation of their racism. They were taught by the church to hate themselves and their world.

During that time (they took turns each Monday morning) the school also had a few young men in their 20’s that taught us what their elder taught them:

You are good
All on the earth is good
You do not own the earth, you borrow it from your children.
It is your moral responsibility to leave a healthy world for your children as you ancestors left a healthy world for you.
You are a human. This is the highest honor as it is your responsibility to be a brother to others. If they need help, you will help them as your are good.
If you make a mistake. Fix it. You are responsible and good.
You must respect all, including yourself and elders as you have much worth.

The white man’s religion completely turned this world upside down and NOT in a healthy way.

In my case I avoided the cafeteria and, on my own initiative, made it a practice to greet with a smile and a compliment and shake the hand of every student as he/she entered the school. - - This produced outcomes that were generally productive but very much a double-edge sward. - - -

In my case as a product of many hours talking with elders I had had a fairly good understanding of their history and culture. Their cultural historical foundation was not based on an Abrahamic god but ancestor worship. Really a good system as it promotes you to do good and leave the world a better place for your offspring so you can be respected after you die. (not that I believe in living dead ancestors) This did give me an alternative platform if someone asked me about Jesus. I told them I found the traditional (insert listed teachings above) values to the Christian (insert listed teachings above)

Back to your current predicament.

Document is wise: detail, date, event, time: (outcome?)

In your environment, if my sources are correct and your place is representative of the demographics you work with, very theistic. You are most likely wise to find friend with similar (rational) ideas in these pages.

Everything has a cost. The early years working on the res had great emotional costs. I found solace working on a farm after school and on week-ends. I also found great joy playing bassoon in the community orchestra and the Elks (community) band, singing in the community choir and a most pleasant time performing as an actor in the community theater. Without those distractions, I am not sure I would have been able to survive.

Hope you find an effective methodology to survive your environment. I have a small understanding how hard it is as I spent a decade on the school on the res and witnessed many interactions including the teacher that could not wear long shirts because her daily (student induced) bruises hurt too much when the shirt sleeves touched her black and blue skin, or the teacher that came to school in her night gown and asked “Who are you? Do you know who I am?” - - the school sent her to a mental hospital and after many months, she was able to remember who she was.

Wishing the best for you.


Sad to say that it sounds pretty tribal. Not much advice beyond hang tough. Hope others here have some good suggestions.


You sound to me like you're describing a generic dysfunctional workplace with poor management and teamwork, but I'm not seeing anything in what you wrote that is racist. You say the racism is "blatant" and yet you don't describe it at all. Perhaps you could be more specific.

As for outing yourself as atheist or agnostic ... that might be the larger problem now. I wouldn't consider this site "safe for work".

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