Marlon Anderson was a security guard at West High School in the Madison School District in Wisconsin for 11 years. But he was abruptly fired after a Black student called him the N-word multiple times — and Anderson told him not to, while also using the word.
“Every type of N-word you can think of, that’s what he was calling me,” Anderson said. “I said, do not call me that name. I’m not your N-word. Do not call me that.”
According to the Washington Post, Anderson lost his job because he used the word. But the decision to fire Anderson sparked national outrage as well as outrage inside the school. Students staged a walkout in protest and former U.S. education secretary Arne Duncan said Anderson’s firing was “more evidence our country still can’t handle issues of race and racism.”
“At the end of the day, I feel I was being called a derogatory term and I don’t want to be called that because my mother, my father, my grandparents — they were called this word and could not say, ‘Don’t call me that,’” Anderson told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “I’m the first generation in my family who can literally look you in the eye and say don’t call me that word. I don’t think it’s fair to try to take that from me.”
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According to the Post, Anderson said that other students have called him the N-word during his career with the district, and each time he has explained its history and context to the student. Anderson told local news that ignoring racism doesn’t get rid of it.
While Anderson does not have his job back yet, a Change.org petition to hire Anderson back had nearly 13,000 signatures as of Monday morning. The numbers are quickly rising. The local teachers union, Madison Teachers Incorporated, has already filed a grievance on his behalf, the Post reported, asking for him to be hired along with back pay.
A GoFundMe also has been set up by Anderson’s former co-workers. It has raised more than $12,000 as of Monday morning.
“The Madison West Family has come together in response to the unjust firing of Marlon Anderson by the most senior administrators of the Madison Metropolitan School District,” the GoFundMe fundraiser reads. “Led by the student leaders of the Black Student Union (BSU), students and staff are rallying behind Marlon and his family. Marlon has dedicated over 11 years of service to MMSD, and is the bedrock and heart of the Mad West community. Not only does he speak truth to our students, staff, and families, but he backs up that truth with his actions.”
Anderson told the Journal Sentinel he plans to sue the school district if his job is not reinstated. Cher tweeted that she will cover his legal fees if he decides to sue.
How Can Ppl Be This Disrespectful⁉️A Beloved,Man of Color Just Passed,& Our Nations Mourning Him.Cong.Elijah Cummings FOUGHT FOR JUSTICE.He Was loved & Feared. If You Want To sue MMSD Ed.Board I Will Incur Your expenses. EC
— Cher (@cher) October 18, 2019