Apparently there is a professor out there who thinks Latinos can’t use words like “hence.” Tiffany Martínez, a student at Suffolk University in Boston, was shocked to have one of her papers returned with a note from the professor accusing her of plagiarism. Why? Because a Latina couldn’t possibly know such lofty words, duh! Martinez wrote up an emotional blog post about the treatment Martínez faced from her professor.
This is the Facebook post by Tiffany Martínez that has gone viral.
I was hurt badly this morning and publicly humiliated in front of my peers by a professor. They assumed I plagiarized my…
She starts her post by laying out all of her academic, and honestly impressive, accomplishments.
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“As a McNair Fellow and student scholar, I’ve presented at national conferences in San Francisco, San Diego, and Miami. I have crafted a critical reflection piece that was published in a peer-reviewed journal managed by the Pell Institute for the Study of Higher Education and Council for Opportunity in Education,” Martínez wrote about her accomplishments thus far in academia. “I name these accomplishments because I understand the vitality of credentials in a society where people like me are not set up to succeed. My last name and appearance immediately instills a set of biases before I have the chance to open my mouth. These stereotypes and generalizations forced on marginalized communities are at times debilitating and painful.”
But, on Oct. 27, one professor tried to tell her that she was not the educated person she truly is.
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“At eight o’clock this morning, I felt both disrespected and invalidated. For years I have spent ample time dissecting the internalized racism that causes me to doubt myself, my abilities, and my aspirations,” Martínez wrote in her blog post. “As a student in an institution extremely populated with high-income white counterparts, I have felt the bitter taste of not belonging.”
“This morning, my professor handed me back a paper (a literature review) in front of my entire class and exclaimed ‘this is not your language,'” Martínez shared in her post.
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“On the top of the page they wrote in blue ink: ‘Please go back and indicate where you cut and paste.’ The period was included,” Martínez wrote. “They assumed that the work I turned in was not my own. My professor did not ask me if it was my language, instead they immediately blamed me in front of peers.”
A large part of the professor’s argument hung on one word, ‘hence,’ according to Martínez’s post.
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“On the second page the professor circled the word ‘hence’ and wrote in between the typed lines, ‘This is not your word.’ The word ‘not’ was underlined. Twice,” Martínez recalled in her post. “My professor assumed someone like me would never use language like that. As I stood in the front of the class while a professor challenged my intelligence I could just imagine them reading my paper in their home thinking could someone like her write something like this?”
Martínez then recalled how her professor challenged not just her paper, but her own intelligence.
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“It is worth repeating how my professor assumed I could not use the word ‘hence,’ a simple transitory word that connected two relating statements. The professor assumed I could not produce quality research,” Martínez argues.
“I am hurting because for a brief moment I believed them,” Martínez wrote.
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“At this moment, I am in the process of advocating for myself to prove the merit of my content to people who will never understand what it is like to be someone like me,” Martínez wrote. “Some of you won’t understand how every word that I use to describe this moment was diligently selected in a way that would properly reflect my intellect. I understand that no matter how hard I try or how well I write, these biases will continue to exist around me.”
But, instead of letting this experience distract her from her important work in academia, Martínez is using it as a rallying call.
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“The entire field of academia is broken and erases the narratives of people like me,” Martínez argues. “We all have work to do to fix the lack of diversity and understanding among marginalized communities. We all have work to do. Academia needs work.”
Read Martínez’s full post by clicking here.