Everyone deserves to be treated with basic human dignity. It doesn’t matter where you come from, respect should be repaid with respect, and kindness with kindness. Unfortunately, some people have a habit of making insensitive offhand comments that greatly insult others.

Take this one example where a mother wrote a letter to her son’s cello teacher in which she mentioned an “ethnic stench” coming off of his clothes every time he came back home after a lesson.

Well, the teacher was very insulted. She wasn’t afraid to write back to the mother and explain that she was, in fact, ‘ethnic’ and that what the mother said was ‘racist.’ But not only that. The cello teacher then went on to comment about how the child was neglected at home. Read on for the full story.

A story about a cello teacher getting an insulting letter from a student’s mother went viral online

Image credits: Steve Snodgrass (not the actual photo)

Image credits: sxinxm_

Image credits: sxinxm_

Here’s what the teacher’s response was

Image credits: sxinxm_

The story went viral on the internet. For example, when it was posted on the ‘Insane Parents‘ subreddit, it got more than 49,000 upvotes in less than a day. Meanwhile, the original post on Twitter made by user @sxinxm_ was retweeted over 63,400 times and got more than 281,100 likes on the social media platform.

The tweets started a fiery discussion on the internet. Not only were people talking about racism in the 21st century, but they were also analyzing the topic of child neglect. According to @sxinxm_, the cello student’s parents weren’t feeding him enough. So she reported them to social services.

However, some Twitter users said she made a mistake by mentioning the child’s malnutrition in her email to his mother. According to them, now the parents will be able to cover up their mistake before social services contacts them.

“Don’t be a bystander”

Bored Panda talked to social media influencer Zariya Grant from New Jersey about the entire story and wanted to hear her thoughts about racism in the 21st century. According to Zariya, her first reaction upon reading the mother’s email to the teacher was disgust: “I was kind of disgusted by it. She tried to “sandwich” those remarks between compliments.”

Zariya was also angry that the mother wasn’t feeding the 9-year-old boy “so he could lose weight.”

“As a person of color, I deal with racism quite a lot. Whether it be “sly” remarks or stereotypes, it’s something I and many others deal with.”

“There’s not much advice I can give on how to respond to it besides don’t be a bystander if you see it happening and be strong. Every situation is different. If there’s something that bothers you, say or do something,” Zariya said.

“Don’t be afraid of who you are. Whatever your race or ethnicity, that’s what makes you “you.” Show people how strong you are and find your voice. Little changes can help big problems” the influencer exclaimed. “Racism is an uncomfortable subject for everyone and shouldn’t be taken lightly. If you don’t see the issue with little remarks or big gestures, you’re part of the problem.”

The politics of smell

Masako Fukui from Japan, who has had experience with being made fun of for the smell of the food she eats, writes on ABC News that “it’s virtually impossible to control our immediate responses to pungent odors, and the anatomy of our brains helps to explain this.”

“Other senses are largely processed within the neocortex, the ‘higher’ brain, while the sensory recognition of odors is more thoroughly plumbed into the limbic system, a collection of ‘lower’ brain regions that are critical for emotion and memory.”

“Whatever is tickling the nose hairs has a direct line to the sub-verbal, animalistic self. It’s exactly the amorphous nature of smell that makes it so powerful, and political,” Fukui writes. “For when those odors that repel us are associated with race, the disgust we instinctively sense undermines our attempts to overcome racial prejudices.”

Some people were outraged at the mom’s letter, while others supported the teacher for helping the child

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