Johnny Wolfe University Academy white teacher at Kansas City K-12 school justifies the use of the N-word referencing pop culture and that speech can’t be policed. African American studies teacher is summarily fired.
A white history and African-American studies teacher has been fired for using the N-word multiple times in his high school classes, which consist mostly of black students, the Kansas City Star reported.
Johnny Wolfe, a history and African American studies teacher was fired last month after students recorded the educator using a racial slur several times.
Officials at University Academy, a K-12 school with about 1,100 students, most of whom are Black told of taking action after students and alumni complained about Wolfe after students took several videos and recordings of him repeating the racial slur in his history and African American studies classes.
In the recordings, Wolfe defended his use of the slur, saying he was speaking in an educational context. Several videos and recordings of students confronting Wolfe about the multiple use of the racial slur were posted on KC Defender, a Black Community media platform.
In one video, the teacher can be heard saying, ‘Just like African-Americans call themselves n*****. So, there will maybe be people who don’t like that, but it was said in an educational context, and it was said for the purpose of talking about empowerment. So, you can like it, not like it, be upset about it all you like, but ultimately this is a ridiculous conversation.’
‘So basically you don’t feel like you were in the wrong to say it?’
In another video, the teacher can be heard saying, ‘I appreciate the point of view. I actually said in the last class, I probably shouldn’t have said it. That said … it was said in an educational context. We cannot police other people’s speech, people. We can’t do it.’
After a student tells the teacher, ‘So basically you don’t feel like you were in the wrong to say it,’ the teacher replies, ‘I just said I probably shouldn’t have said it based upon the educational level of a ninth-grader, but I do feel like … you as seniors should be able to understand the context and be able to put it in perspective.’
The Star reported that University Academy officials noted in a letter to families that it was ‘a completely unacceptable and abhorrent incident’ that’s ‘contrary to the very mission for which the school was created.’
Wolfe was placed on administrative leave, the paper said, adding that students, parents, and community members then held a town hall to address racism at the school and call for action.
The Star said the group demanded Wolfe’s termination, the formation of a diversity and inclusion task force, the hiring of more diverse staff members, and the implementation of more mandatory diversity training.
In its letter, school officials said University Academy officials will also work to increase the racial diversity of the school’s staff, which is currently 59% white, 39% Black, 1% Asian and 1% Hispanic.
A Change.org petition to remove the teacher said students were ‘subjected to this intellectual violence’ and were ‘bravely expressing their feelings of discomfort about his use of the racial slur, as well as its impact on their educational experience. In response, Mr. Wolfe continued to repeat the racial slur, referencing pop culture as a form of justification. Instead of taking responsibility and accountability, this man gaslit young black students and belittled their intelligence. This is unacceptable behavior of ANY educator,’ the Star reported the petition said.
Officials said they are using the incident as an opportunity ‘to understand where we have fallen short and made mistakes. We are committed to evolve and improve. Our objective is to return University Academy to a manner that ensures an incident of this nature does not occur again.’
Superintendent Rebecca Gudde said she will immediately develop an improvement plan for the upper school, which will ‘address the workplace culture so that it is emotionally intelligent, trauma-informed, and culturally responsive,’ the Star reported.