When fighting racism means firing a black security guard defending himself against racial taunts


Last week, school security guard Marlon Anderson was confronted by some young African-American students who, according to Anderson, began repeatedly calling him a “bitch ass n—a.” Anderson, who himself is black, responded to the students by saying, “do not call me n—a.”

The school quickly fired Anderson, a 48-year old married father of three, for using the “n-word” when defending himself against the students’ verbal attack. According to the school’s zero-tolerance language policy, context didn’t matter – if he said it, he was out of a job.

But the Madison school board, facing a recent influx of African-American students from larger cities, has shown itself completely incapable of navigating the complicated waters of race. In 2014, when faced with the fact that black students were being suspended more often than white students, the district instituted a new behavior plan that eliminated suspensions altogether.

Ironically, the district claimed its ban on suspensions was an end to zero-tolerance discipline policies. But instead, schools became “full-tolerance” zones for horrifying student behavior. The students, now knowing they couldn’t be suspended, began terrorizing classrooms, swearing at teachers, and disrupting other students.

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