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A Million Little Pieces Of My Mind

7th Grade

By: Paul S. Cilwa Viewed: 3/4/2024
Occurred: 9/7/1961
Page Views: 474
Topics: #Autobiography #Education
My very first openly racist teacher.
School:Cathedral Parish School
Teacher:Mrs. Kaye Forson; Mrs. Usina

Seventh grade started normally, with the special surprise of having my sixth grade teacher, Mrs. Forson, again be our teacher. However, that didn't last long. Somewhere a few months into the school year, Mrs. Forson explained to us that she was going to have a baby, and was going to have to spend time at home resting. (Mrs. Forson already had a number of kids of her own, so she probably wasn't a spring chicken at this point.) And so, until after the baby was born in early spring, we would have a…substitute teacher. Her name was Mrs. Usina (I think; it's been 60 years!) and she was not the quality of teacher Mrs. Forson had been.

I was oblivious to the racial disease that was going on around us. Although we finally had a television, I didn't watch the news, ever. And so the backstory as to why Mrs. Usina told us the things she did, never informed us as to possible bias or inaccuracy.

She told us the Aborigines of Australia were the "least-evolved" of all humans; her proof being they sat around and let flies walk over their eyeballs. (We were obliged to take her word for that, as she provided no evidence that any of this was so.

She also announced that it was "scientific fact" that "Negroes" had smaller brains that do white people.

In any case, she was clearly working her way up to announcing that white people, like everyone of us in the classroom, were the pinnacle of God's creation, and everyone and everything else was less evolved than we were.

By seventh grade, I was an avid enough reader to know that she was completely wrong about Aborigines and that the idea that any group of humans could be inherently dumber than any other was preposterous.

The 2020s would prove me wrong on that, of course. But at least I got to spend most of six decades thinking there was only one racist teacher in the world.