Our 7th and 8th grade Honors Literature Class is studying To Kill a Mockingbird. The class is led by AmeriCorps educator, Mr. Dylan McHugh. McHugh will soon be graduating with his Masters in Education from the University of Notre Dame.
In an attempt to address the racial issues of the novel, in particular, the use of the “n-word”, McHugh invited Ms. Carla Hinton, Religion Editor for the state newspaper, The Oklahoman, to address his class. Hinton has nearly three decades of experience with the daily print issue covering not only religion, but social services and minorities stories. “I’ve done it all,” Hinton explained to students, she then proceeded to speak to the origin of the racial slur beginning with the Latinroot of the word. Hinton then discussed its use in the time of slavery and now what is considered to be “popular usage” in hip hop culture. “No matter who uses it, there’s baggage and history,” Hinton explained to the middle school students. Honors Literature student, Nick Howard reflected on the issue. “I think this is important because it tells us how bad the offensive words are in To Kill a Mockingbird and it teaches us not to use them in our society today.”
Mr. McHugh further addressed the issue, “History matters and words hurt. You [students] will carry on a legacy of this generation. Understand its meaning and the hurt which is carried with it. It will be a reflection of your education here at St. Philip Neri.”