That sounds terrible, but if I’m honest, I knew it would happen and meant to do it.
I teach in an urban district and most of my 8th grade students are African American and/or impoverished. We’re reading Harper Lee’s classic novel “To Kill a Mockingbird” together, and the kids were loving it.
Until today when we got to the verdict in the Tom Robinson trial.
Jaquan closed his book with wide eyes.
“What the heck happened?” he asked.
Other students in the room murmured their agreement.
“They found him guilty!? What the F!?”
“I hate this book.”
“This is so freakin’ racist.”
I let them go on for a moment.
Frankly, it was the reaction I had been expecting.
It happens every year around this time.
Until this moment, my kids were really into the book. They were enjoying the case and excited by how well the defense attorney, Atticus Finch, had proven that Tom, a black man in the 1930s South, is innocent of raping a white woman.
But even last night I knew what was coming. The next day – today – I’d have to go and break their hearts when they read what the jury actually decides. Some of them were bound to be crushed. And today they were.
For those who haven’t cracked this book open in decades, let me recap.