Sticks and Stones Can Break Our Bones but WORDS Can Also Hurt!

~Shemeka Michelle



I wonder just which word offended him the most FAGGOT, ASS or COWARD. Last month I posted a blog about being banned from my children’s school for loudly likening the dean to a faggot ass coward (Read article here…. ). Although I still believe his initial approach to the situation was wrong, it’s caused me to have a deeper reflection.

As a child, I remember chanting the words “sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me”. That was taught to me by my mom in an effort to get me to understand that other kids may say whatever they want to me but it would have no effect on my academic success or livelihood. As long as they didn’t try to hurt my physical body, I would be okay. For the most part, this type of thinking worked out well for me. I don’t think I was nearly as sensitive as many kids are today. However, there were words that did in fact hurt me along the way.

When my ex-boyfriend called me a bitch, that word took me back to 1999 when my now ex-husband first called me the same name (Wait, perhaps I am really a bitch…??? Anywho…). Although 1999 was the only time my then husband called me that particular name, I was reminded of the blatant disrespect that kept showing up in our marriage and hearing the word again was an immediate trigger for me. My response to him was coupled with years of unfulfilled retaliation from a relationship that he had nothing to do with. Don’t get me wrong, he definitely should’ve been dropped like a bad habit but the vengeance that came with it, was simply because I had been down that road before and I refused to go back.

When I think back to the incident at my daughter’s school, my initial thoughts were that an alpha male would’ve never responded to me that way. I still believe that’s true. However, I also believe that the dean’s response to me was greater than what actually happened that day. If I had to take a guess, I would guess that likening him to a faggot was something he’s dealt with most of his life. I can imagine him standing on a playground surrounded by tough little boys picking on him and him not being able to defend himself. I would guess that hearing the word faggot took him back to a time and place in life that he would rather forget.

While none of us desire to walk around on eggshells, many of us are smart enough to know when we’re taking a dig at someone with words that may actually hurt their feelings. It’s very apparent that this particular dean is effeminate so I would bet the farm that I wasn’t the first to use that word. For that reason, I should’ve been more sensitive. Somehow I feel like if I had said he was hiding in his office like a macho manly man, he would’ve felt esteemed instead of calling the police.

 Nevertheless, here’s the promised update……

After meeting with the principal, he agreed that the situation should’ve been handled differently. While he didn’t condone the words I chose, he did understand how the dean’s response created anger and anxiety. Because I never made any threatening actions towards anyone, all of the restrictions were removed.

As for the dean, I am very concerned with his promotion to principal for an upcoming school in Greensboro NC. Not only did his response to me show that he lacks problem solving skills, his hastiness to limit a parent’s involvement shows his weakness in putting children first. His desire to call the police to waste the city’s resources for an issue so petty shows emotional instability in my opinion. Also, for months (even prior to this incident) he has failed to meet any request we’ve had as parents to meet with us concerning academic issues. He has made no effort at all to show any interest in our child’s academic success. Members of his own staff have deemed him difficult to deal with. In my opinion, sometimes the best leaders are those that have more to offer than a stellar resume’; especially when a large portion of your job requires interaction with humankind.




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