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New School professor Laurie Sheck, who has been nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in poetry, faced an investigation this year over her use of the “n-word” during a lesson on black author James Baldwin. She used the word during a discussion of Baldwin’s own use of the word. Ultimately the New School decided that she did not violate the college’s policy on discrimination.
During the spring semester, Professor Laurie Sheck of the New School in New York City found herself in hot water after she said the “n-word” during a discussion on James Baldwin’s 1962 essay, “The Creative Process.” During the class discussion on the essay, Sheck asked students to consider why a recent documentary about Baldwin was titled “I Am Not Your Negro,” altering Baldwin’s actual quote to remove the “n-word.”
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Sheck argues that she used to word to make a point about the documentary’s intentional distortion of Baldwin’s quote. “As writers, words are all we have. And we have to give [Baldwin] credit that he used the word he did on purpose,” Sheck said.
After the lecture, one of Sheck’s white graduate students reported her use of the word to the New School administration. As a result, Sheck was investigated by college administrators over her classroom conduct.
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