Talk about getting lost in translation.
A Bronx teacher claims that she was fired for using the word “negro” in reference to a student. I must admit, it sounds reasonable at first – except for the fact that the teacher in question was teaching a lesson in Spanish.
65-year-old Petrona Smith, formerly a teacher at bilingual PS 211, says that she was instructing her students on how to say colors in Spanish. “Negro,” of course, is Spanish for “black.” She claims that she was fired after a seventh-grader reported the incident. Smith is black, and a West Indies native. She has filed a lawsuit over the firing.
“They haven’t even accounted for how absurd it is for someone who’s black to be using a racial slur to a student,” Shaun Reid, Smith’s attorney, told the NY Post. “Talk about context! There’s a lot of things wrong here.”
Smith even claims that she differentiated between “negro” (black) and the Spanish word for black person, “moreno.”
According to court documents, Smith was also accused of calling some students “failures,” but she says that this is also untrue. Apparently, she asked students who had failed a test to move to the back of the classroom.
In fact, Smith claims that the slurs were coming in the other direction. The Post notes that she reports being called a “f*cking monkey” and a “n*gger.”
As of now, facts in the case are pretty one-sided. A spokesperson from the city told The Post that they will review the papers – but that’s all they had to say.