Remember back in June, when I had racist insults hurled my way by a teacher at a school here, in Granada?
I returned the following week to hand over a (non-angry, just matter-of-fact) complaint letter to the school’s directors, shortly before the school closed for the summer.
The school has since re-opened, and I have yet to hear a response. Today, D-Man and I went to the school to turn in a reclamación – an official letter of complaint sent to the administrators – only to be met with this teacher’s BFF, the head secretary.
Now, I’m not some self-righteous control freak. I really do try to pick and choose my battles. When ignorant folk have said things like, “Machu Picchu, are you enjoying Europe?” and, “You’re pretty for an indigenous person,” or, “Isn’t the U.S. filled to the brim with sudakas?” (‘sudaka’ being a degrading word for Latin Americans – the equivalent of ‘nigger’), I’ve simply ignored the comments and continued on with my life, because what else am I supposed to do?
But when a person who is an educator throws a grand slew of offenses at me, in front of her students, well, that’s a whole different matter in my book.
I’ve chosen this as my battle. I don’t particularly feel like swallowing this teacher’s abuse and just letting it go. Maybe it’s because I’m a teacher too. I can’t walk away knowing (for a fact) that this woman is teaching her students the supposed difference between an immigrant and a ‘guiri’ (think ‘gringo’, or white person). In her opinion, immigrants are the darkies without money that are sucking out the country’s resources, and ‘guiris’ are the white people with money that should be welcomed in the country with open arms because they have money, and Spain is in an economic crisis, so the country must take the utmost advantage of them.
I’ll admit, the woman isn’t completely stupid. I’ve done my homework. She’s set up seminars for Francesco Tonucci, a leading psychopedagogist from Italy, and many of her colleagues and students love her and have great things to say about her. Those who do have complaints against her (there are also several) are scared shitless or, like me, are manipulated and turned away under a thousand pretenses. The woman is protected by her community, and people know it.
Today I found myself again at the same crossroads, but with her secretary. Granted, she was very polite, but in an infuriating passive-aggressive way. When D-Man and I walked into the main office to fill out the complaint form, she sweetly asked whom it was for. D-Man, more or less knowing how it works, responded with, “Allow us to fill it out and then you can read it.”
Secretary: “I can’t help you if you don’t tell me who it’s for. There’s a certain book for each professor here…”
Me: “Maria del Mar Romero Morón.”
The secretary hands over the sheet of paper to me, and follows me over to the desk where I quietly sit down and begin to fill it out. I have only written a single word, when she begins to speak.
Secretary: “Are you a student of hers? Otherwise, this complaint won’t be of any use.”
Me: “No. My sister-in-law was a student of hers, but the offense was committed against me.”
Secretary: [Reading my copy of the original complaint letter I’ve brought along]. “I read this last year. You sent it online, didn’t you? I’ve read it on the internet.”
Me: [Very surprised, and confused]. “I never sent it online. I personally turned it in only four months ago, in a sealed enveloped and addressed to the academy’s directors.” [At this point, I’ve realized that my letter was probably scanned, and has been circulating via email amongst the school staff. Weird.]
Secretary: “Anyway…. The complaint is only of use if you’re to complain about her teaching, and since you’ve never been an actual student of hers, this matter has nothing to do with the academy.”
Me: “I was directly insulted with racist remarks, in front of students, while at this academy, so I think it has everything to do with the academy. It doesn’t matter to you that you’re employing this sort of teacher? A teacher that imposes her politically incorrect opinions on her students – such as the nonexistent difference between an immigrant and guiri?”
Secretary: “I don’t know where your opinion lies, but I completely agree with what Maria del Mar Romero Morón teaches here.”
D-Man: [Who had been trying to get me to shut up the entire time, turns red]. “Michelle, this academy obviously stands behind such teachers and such teachings, so we need to go now. Let’s go. Now.”
Me: [Not willing to leave it like this, I continue speaking with the secretary]. “So tell me, what am I, then? What happens when someone like me who, in your vocabulary, looks like an immigrant but is really just some guiri…tell me, under which category does such a person fall?”
Secretary: “Why don’t you just leave this letter here with me, and I’ll make sure to let Maria del Mar know you were here today.”
Me: “Why? So you can rip it up as soon as I leave, and laugh about it over coffee?”
Secretary: [Choosing to ignore me, faces D-Man and asks:] “And where are you from? Why have you accompanied her?”
D-Man: [At this point, he’s already walked towards the exit, in hopes that I’d follow]. “I’m Spanish, born and bred, she’s my wife, and I’m here to support her because what happened to her at this academy isn’t right, and you know it.”
Secretary: “Hombre, I’m sure it hurts you because, surely, you love her, but there’s really nothing you can do since she wasn’t a student here. You can take it up with the courts if you wish. Perhaps you know of a good lawyer? Surely you can find one.” [Creepy, calm-as-the-devil smile].
At this point, all I do really, is roll my eyes and smile weakly at D-Man. Not a true smile at all, but a does-this-sociopath-of-a-woman-really-think-we’re-that-stupid sort of smile. An I’m-so-goddamn-tired-of-all-this sort of smile.
D-Man and I leave the school – frustrated, deflated, dejected – knowing perfectly well that there are some things we just cannot change. For now.