Chicago Teacher Suspended for Using ‘N-Word’ in Class Sues; Says It Was a ‘Teachable Moment’

Philip Caulfield, NY Daily News, February 20, 2012

A white teacher says Chicago public school officials and his black principal violated his civil rights when they suspended him for using the N-word in front of a classroom full of black sixth graders, according to a lawsuit.

Calling the incident a “teachable moment,” Lincoln Brown, 48, said he used the word in class at Murray Language Academy last October after he caught two girls passing a note with a rap lyric containing the slur, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

The social studies teacher said he was discussing the use of the word in the context of movies, music and books, including the novel “Huckleberry Finn,” when the principal, Gregory Mason, happened to walk in.

“I asked them, ‘What would you feel if I used that word?’” Brown said. “I used the full word, but I didn’t address it to the students. I was very careful about that.”

Brown said Mason didn’t seem to have a problem with the discussion and stayed in the classroom for about 10 minutes.

But two weeks later, Brown was told he would be suspended without pay for “using verbally abusive language to or in front of students” and “cruel, immoral, negligent or criminal conduct,” the Sun-Times reported.

Brown called the charges bogus.

“It’s so sad—if we can’t discuss these issues, we’ll never be able to resolve them,” he told the newspaper.


The lawsuit, filed on Thursday, accuses Mason, Chicago Public Schools CEO Jean-Claude Brizard and the Chicago Board of Education of violating Brown’s First and Fifth Amendment rights.


Lincoln Brown


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  • anonymous_amren

    While I fully support the right of frustrated teachers to call their black students N…. and to use “verbally abusive language to or in front of students” when those students are verbally abusing the teachers and disrupting the classroom, that is NOT what happened here.

    He was doing the right thing, simply teaching black children why they shouldn’t be calling each other N…., in response to THEIR misbehaviour in doing that. Something their parents should have done. Nobody could honestly say he was using the word N…. himself.

    He is absolutely right to fight this, and I wish him the best of luck.

    • If I didn’t think this was just an attempt on the part of black CPS administrators using any excuse they can to fire a white person and put a black in his place, I would bet that maybe one of the reason for the NONtroversy is because blacks think they “own” the N-word, and this white teacher was trying to rob them of “their” word.

  • Chicago Sun-Times version of this news says this:

    Brown said his father, the former dean of Rockefeller Chapel at
    University of Chicago and a supporter of the civil rights movement, even
    met with Martin Luther King Jr.

    Aren’t you getting a little tired of these “I marched with MLK/civil rights leaders” big fish tales?  It’s like the Game 7 of the World Series which 47,000 people attended, but in twenty years, a million people will say they were there.  Similarly, the way people tell it now, there must have been 50 million people that marched with MLK between Selma and Montgomery.

    • R P

      A few years a go there was a huge number of people claiming to have escaped from the Nazis or to have aided in helping people escape from Nazi Germany in their obits.

      I thought it was a little suspicious.

  • Southern__Hoosier

    He should have known, white people can’t use the N word.  Who does he think he is a rapper, a boy of the hood?

  • Hirschibold

    There is nothing more pathetic than hearing a grown white adult saying the phrase “n-word” rather than risk the wrath of being called racist. I wonder if when someone in a courtroom uses the “n-word” is the stenographer also accused of racism? She or he did after all did write “the n-word.”

    • Heinrich24

      Agreed!! It is cowardice, political-correctness and childishness taken to the absolute extreme!

  • sbuffalonative

    Being around blacks is just waiting for trouble. Something bad will happen eventually.

    This poor schmuck thought he was doing something good but when it comes to blacks, no good deed goes unpunished. Besides, it’s pointless trying to teach blacks anything.

  • Blacks don’t want to hear a white persons reasons for using this word, even if it’s to teach a lesson on it. The way they think about it is it’s our “word” now and whitey ain’t allowed to use it anymore. Notice the two girls who passed the note didn’t receive any punishment which tells me they were black and now it looks like they want to criminalize the word and have whitey up on charges for using it. I applaud this man for fighting back though, this is the kind of action needed. Make the race-hustlers prove their charges in a court of law.

  • razorrare

    Who cares? Just another case of a liberal  getting a good dose of his own medicine.Maybe he will learn something from it. Lincoln Brown? Are ya kidding me!!! Like Daddy,like son…

  • bluffcreek1967

    This somewhat naive teacher thought he could provide a ‘teachable moment’ to his black students – as if the entire class would engage in an intellectual and rational discussion of the N-word and forever ban it from their vocabulary. He seemed to have forgotten that whites can never, under any circumstances, employ the N-word. He had also forgotten that ghetto black culture continually reinforces the N-word and the mentality that goes with it because it’s integral to who they are.

    • His big error is that one cannot engage in “teachable moments” to students who really can’t learn anything.  One would do better to ask a brick wall to grok these kind of subtle nuances.

  • Detroit_WASP

    This guy is likely a liberal, most union teachers are pretty far left.   I can just hear the guy saying, “some of my best friends are black”

    Blacks just love this “n-word” crap.  They love having this word as their own and being able to get up on a high horse when whites use it.   

  • Yet another example as to why Liberia was created.

  • tacheles

    It is a sign of monumental stupidity when someone, like this principal, is unable to grasp the importance of context. Context is everything. It reveals intent. Paranoia coupled with ignorance and stupidity is highly unpleasant, to put it mildly.

    It recalls the case of a committee meeting in which whitey complained about records disappearing in a black hole and a black member was gravely offended. He was heard booming: EXCUSE ME. That would be a case of paranoia coupled with monumental ignorance.

  • Christopher_Nelson

    Maybe this is a “teachable”  moment for whites. 

    Don’t bother teaching black kids.  Find a job at a white school. 

    And NEVER utter  that evil , unmentionable word. That word which we shall not bring fourth out of our vocal innards.  That word which is so abominable, so despised, that even the devil himself shall not whisper it when he is alone. 

    UNLESS, you are black, ofcourse.

    Thank God that the black principle saved the day. 

  • Anon

    Brown called the charges bogus.
    “It’s so sad—if we can’t discuss these issues, we’ll never be able to resolve them,” he told the newspaper

    Yeah, we all know exactly what you, as a clueless “white” man, means when you say “we’ll never be able to resolve them”. What exactly do you mean by “resolve”?  I will bet you are just another liberal teacher who still thinks we, Whites are to blame for every ill in the world and think  our”racism” is the cause for blacks to be the way they are. Right?

  • Anon

    That guy looks and sounds like another cowardly wimp to begin with. Typical pc garbage.

     What is wrong with the N word?  It is just a WORD, people!

     Just because the White haters  told Whitey it is offensive then all of a sudden we all get on our knees and beg their forgiveness?  NEVER!

    Blacks are offensive daily, yet we are told WE are the evil racists. Blacks call us names, rape and kill our people, moan all day long about their lot in life, get a free pass for EVERYTHING they do and say, get jobs over Whitey just because they are BLACK, commit racial hoaxes on us daily, and you all know the rest.  So this “white” teacher is still teaching us that Whitey made up that “word” to defile the black race, while blacks run wild among us?  They defile themselves and NO word can remove all doubt.

  • Anon

    What’s the big deal over the N word?  We cannot even say negro anymore. Even though their own race is of the negroid RACE! Let’s see if the mods will even approve of a racial term that is benign and which is absolutely correct.  Not pc correct, but correct all the same. Once we gave in to all this nonsense, we gave up our own rights (and our own sanity) and we now see where we are headed in today’s America.

  • bluffcreek1967

    Very good! I especially liked the part about giving Blacks the cold shoulder (albeit with politeness and not any name calling, etc.). Let them feel that Whites are sick of the way they treat us and the double standard that’s afforded them. I’m appalled at how many Whites I’ve seen over the years who fawn all over Blacks and try their best to get them to like them. So many Whites want to prove to Blacks that their not racist like all ‘those other Whites.’ Whites will defer to Blacks in ways they would never treat other Whites.   

  • Morrow’s Law: The longer one is around blacks, the higher the likelihood of a legal or physical assault is until it approaches a 100 percent certainty.

    There is a corollary to this, that a White man attempting to be a teacher will be constantly harassed legally and in the school’s own way of “law.” Racist, sexist, pedophile charges will all be trumped up and used against them.