An after-school educator is speaking out after he wasn’t allegedly removed from a program he was running because he handed out an assignment with a Black power fist on it, according to CBS Sacramento.
Marcus Martin told the news outlet that he’s a recreation leader with the Stanislaus County Police Activities League, which has a contract with the Modesto City Schools District for their After School Education and Safety Program.
But Martin now says he’s being blackballed because on Feb. 1, in honor of Black History Month, he began handing out documents about notable Black people in American history. One of the documents had a Black fist on it, and CBS Sacramento reported that a parent had an issue with it and reported it.
“It’s one of my passions because my major is Black history, that’s what I take passion in, that’s what I take pride in,” Martin said.
“I just feel like I’m being racially discriminated, because I wasn’t doing nothing wrong. I get if I was doing something wrong and had bad intent but this is not about that. This is just about teaching these kids and help them learn about stuff they didn’t know,” he added.
I don’t know why this isn’t blowing up!
But I teacher in my home town was just punished and blackballed by the Modesto school district for giving history lessons about Black history on Black history month.
This is outrageous! –https://t.co/EYxL3pn4hW
— Lava ✨Looking for Work✨ (@lava_alley) February 8, 2021
The Stanislaus County Police Activities League said Martin was not being blackballed, and he was moved to a different class after the parent complained. The organization said they were not “punishing” Martin but giving him “additional coaching and guidance on the approval procedures for instructional materials.”
A spokesperson for the district went even further saying, Martin “violated procedures and provided students with instructional materials that were not approved.”
Martin said this was untrue, and he personally met with his coordinator and the supervisor who approved it.
“They were all fine with it. Even the coordinator and the supervisor, we all had a meeting over it,” Martin said.
He added that the child of the parent, who criticized the Black fist, had also made racially insensitive comments toward Black people on the same day that the parent reported the Black fist photo.
“She later stated ‘I only like some black people’ and said something about black people stealing. I feel real discouraged and I feel discriminated against because in my eyes, I don’t feel like the teaching was wrong,” he said.
In a statement to CBS Sacramento, the Modesto City Schools District defended their decision to force Martin out.
“Following a parent complaint about a lesson provided by Mr. Martin, an investigation found that Mr. Martin provided students a lesson that was not approved. We have worked with Mr. Martin and discussed the process for approving lessons. He continues to work as a PAL employee at the school site and with students,” the statement said.
The statement did not explain the issue with the Black fist or why the parent did not like it.
Martin said he has been forced to change the entire curriculum he created for Black History Month due to the parent’s complaints about the photo.
“It’s not right that we should be getting treated like this and it’s 2021,” he said.
Schools are increasingly facing backlash in recent weeks over the handling of Black History Month, with many instances highlighting the insensitive lessons of white teachers and the efforts to limit teachings about Black people entirely.
As Blavity previously reported, Black teachers in Louisiana were forced to change their clothes last month when they wore pearls and sneakers in honor of the inauguration of Vice President Kamala Harris. They were told it was a “political statement,” to wear anything honoring the inauguration of the country’s first woman vice president.
Last week, on the first day of Black History Month, another school in Wisconsin faced backlash for asking students to think from the standpoint of slave owners punishing their slaves. A school in Utah was forced to reverse a decision to allow white parents to simply opt out of Black History Month.