**School Board Meeting in South Carolina**
Author Ta-Nehisi Coates silently attends a school board meeting in South Carolina to support a high school teacher who was asked to stop using his book on growing up Black in America in her advanced English class.
Mary Wood, a teacher at Chapin High School, had previously taught the lesson that included Ta-Nehisi Coates’ book. However, after some of her students expressed discomfort and feeling ashamed to be Caucasian, the books were removed, and the assignment was discontinued.
**Coates’ Book: “Between the World and Me”**
Coates wrote his book, “Between the World and Me,” in 2015 as a letter to his teenage son. In the book, he discusses his perceptions of being Black in America and sheds light on the presence of racism and violence based on skin color in American society.
**Systemic Racism Lesson**
Wood had assigned her students to read Coates’ book and watch videos on systemic racism to introduce the topic. The students were then asked to identify the themes in the works and express their thoughts, including whether they disagreed with Coates’ perspectives.
**Concerns about Teaching Race**
Records from the Lexington-Richland 5 school district show that officials were concerned about the assignment possibly violating a rule in the South Carolina budget. This rule prohibits schools from using state funds to teach that individuals are consciously or unconsciously racist based on their race. Additionally, lessons are not allowed to make anyone feel discomfort, guilt, or anguish based on their race.
Republicans have seized on this provision to threaten other school districts in South Carolina. One student who complained about the lesson even claimed that discussing systemic racism was illegal in the state.
**Coates’ Support for Wood**
Coates sat next to Wood during the school board meeting, but neither of them spoke publicly, according to media reports.
**Handling of Complaints**
The student complaints about Wood’s lesson were sent directly to a school board member instead of being addressed with the teacher herself. Superintendent Akil Ross noted that most issues are resolved when students express their concerns directly to their teachers.
**Importance of Diverse Stories in English Education**
Tess Pratt, the chairwoman of Chapin High School’s English department, emphasized the importance of exposing students to stories that both relate to them and are unfamiliar. Teaching English involves telling stories that can broaden students’ perspectives.
**Support for Wood**
During the school board meeting, many teachers and supporters showed up to express their support for Wood. This was in stark contrast to a previous board meeting where speakers were against Wood, with some questioning why she hadn’t been fired.
**Push for Color-Blind Society**
Republican state Rep. RJ May argued that lessons should promote a color-blind society that avoids discrimination against white people based on past racism.
**Calls for Consequences**
Another unidentified speaker called for Wood to be fired or reprimanded, claiming that she showed no remorse and strongly defended herself despite breaking the law.
**No Action Taken by the School Board**
As of now, the school board has not taken any action against Wood, and there have been no policy changes resulting from this event.