In what is hoped will be the first in a series of community conversations related to equity, Greece Central School District hosted “The N-word Origins, Ownership and the Impact of Language,” on Monday evening. It was held at Olympia Auditorium.
Tasha Potter is the principal on special assignment for equity and family engagement with the school district. She said that as a woman of color she sees different perceptions across the black community on the N-word.
“Some use it as a term of endearment, and others use it because they feel that there is ownership of the word," Potter said. "And there’s a strong group of people that also feel that it is very negative, it’s derogatory, and that we shouldn’t be using it.”
Potter said that leading up to this event, administrators and teachers had requested help finding ways to address student use of the N-word.
Potter intends to bring the conversation to schools to have restorative dialogue around the topic. She hopes the event will raise awareness around the trauma and history behind the N-word in an open and public discussion.
“Our work now beginning this evening is to create awareness and have this learning opportunity for us all," she said. "But more importantly, our next steps will be to take similar sessions to our schools and work through this in a dialog that’s restorative.”
In her eyes, she said that the Greece community has struggled with issues of race because there hasn’t been an open conversation around the topic.
“This is an opportunity for us to have a safe space where folks can learn together, they can listen together and we can have the conversation around race that we’ve never really felt comfortable doing in the past,” Potter says.
In 2012, the New York State Department of Education issued a citation for Greece Central School District over the disproportionate suspensions and referrals to special education for black and brown students. Potter said that years later, she transitioned from school principal to principal on special assignment for equity and family engagement.