Pebblebrook Students Said Her Name…Breonna
A well-known figure of speech in our society is “Open mouth and insert foot” which is usually reserved for a person who says or does something inappropriate, at the wrong time, or in front of the wrong group.
Pebblebrook forensics science teacher, Susan McCoy checked all of the boxes and more when she boldly told her class, filled with mostly African American students, that Breonna Taylor was responsible for her own death. As these brave Pebblebrook High school students listened to the condemnation of an innocent person by their teacher, who should have known better, they refused to sit quietly and accept what was occurring. In a video that has been posted online you can hear them educating their teacher on the facts and speaking up for someone who cannot speak up for herself. They spoke up for Breonna…they said her name. We must all be proud of them for doing so.
Please recall that Taylor was a 26-year-old black woman who was killed by Louisville Police when they stormed into her apartment – while she was asleep in bed – to serve a search warrant on a person who did not reside there.
Confused and apparently ill-informed, McCoy said Breonna was hanging out with criminal elements – her boyfriend – which got her killed. “I’m sorry she was killed, but you know when you hang out with people with guns and shooting, you’re likely to get caught in the crossfire,” she said, adding she was talking about “what’s her name — Breonna something — the woman who was killed in the gunfire from the cops.” Erroneously, McCoy told students that Taylor was “hanging out with the guy who was wanted on charges … and he fired at them, and they fired back.”
In the socially and racially charged atmosphere we live in; it will never be the right time to make such an insensitive statement before a group of intelligent Pebblebrook students. After what we all have witnessed across our country when it comes to people of color senselessly losing their lives, one should not be naïve, nor thoughtless, nor flippant about this issue. In the case of Breonna, an innocent black woman who was abruptly awoken and subsequently shot to death by police – this will never be a topic where a teacher can offer insensitive commentary to young people because they know that the fate of Breonna could easily have been the fate of any one of them.
Realizing that she had irrupted a firestorm, McCoy later offered an apology to students that was also posted to social media.
“I want to apologize sincerely publicly for things I said today in my class that had to do with something that I was very ignorant about,” she said. “I’m just heartbroken that I said something so rude and disrespectful. All I can do is say I’m so sorry. I should never have talked about something that I didn’t understand and I truly, truly apologize and ask for forgiveness and hope that someday I can have that trust back with my students that I know that I lost.”
For many, McCoy’s apology was simply too late as the video has made its way across numerous social media platforms. Those in the community, including Pebblebrook students, are demanding that she be fired. The Cobb County School District announced it was investigating the matter.
As we await an update on their findings and next steps, it is our hope that our community uses this as a teachable moment so that this never occurs again. To keep the conversation going, visit our Facebook page.