A University of Pennsylvania teaching assistant seems to have ruffled a few feathers with her unconventional teaching method that prioritizes the thoughts of Black women students over others, the Miami Herald reports.
On Oct. 16, Stephanie McKellop, a Ph.D. student at the university, tweeted from her personal Twitter account “I will always call on my Black women students first. Other POC get second tier priority. WW come next. And, if I have to, white men.”
The post drew immediate criticism from those who felt her actions were both sexist and racist and had no place in the classroom. Some went as far as requesting that school officials remove McKellop from the history class she aids titled “Sinners, Sex and Slaves: Race and Sex in Early America.”
Critics unfamiliar with the policy — which has been used in other schools and classrooms around the country — claim it supported open discrimination of White people. But in fact, McKellop says she learned the practice from a former professor in undergrad who used the same method to redress a lack of opportunities for non-Whites to speak up in normal life.
For their part in the matter, UPenn released a statement from the Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences saying, “We are looking into the current matter involving a graduate student teaching assistant to ensure that our students were not subjected to discriminatory practices in the classroom and to ensure that all of our students feel heard and equally engaged.”
The school also confirmed that they had not banned her from class.
Though many took offense to McKellop’s tweet, there were also supporters who found her tactic refreshing, pointing out that the method is used to create a more inclusive learning community by highlighting the thoughts and ideas of the most marginalized students in the room.
During a time where everyone from the White House to the NFL are making a concerted effort to silence Black voices — especially those of Black women —it appears that the rest of society could benefit and learn from McKellop’s strategy.
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