The other day I decided to wear my retainer to school, having not worn it in several years, I got it in my head that I can correct the damage of not wearing it by starting to wear it again. So, there I am trying to hold class discussions regarding Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men, the general stuff - it was written a long time ago, they talked differently, ect.
This discussion brought up the use of the infamous "N" word. Trying to explain to high school students that in the 1930's it was common to use the word and it isn't necessarily being used in a negative sense, it was just a statement of fact - that is what the character is, just like I, their teacher, am white. The dicussion that followed was interesting, insightful and very respectful - even if the students were passionate (which in and of itself is an accomplishment). The problem came when we got into acronyms, I said "I hate acronyms" at which point the students looked shocked and started whispering, "What did she say?" "Did she say I what I think she said?"
I was very confused, so I asked them what they thought I said...This is where this gets funny, one of my favorite students, a young black man, looks at me and with great honesty says "Did you say you hate Africans?" I immediately got a look of terror and then start to laugh explaining that I said, very clearly "I hate acronyms." The entire class began to laugh, and then it was decided that I don't wear my retainer during class anymore, who knows what might accidently come out of my mouth.