I was teaching Shakespeare's Macbeth to some inner city Black kids the other day, and I got off to a bad start when I called one kid a nickname he didn't like, some kids snickered, so he called me "whiteboy" in response. Now, I knew I was in the wrong, so I just explained to him that I won't call him that name if he won't call me whiteboy. It's not a name that offends me, it's just punking me out in front of the kids, which is kind of like what I did to him. He said he meant no disrespect, and by the end of the class, we were cool - he was reading the part of Banquo.
I hate to stereotype, but oh well: As usual, the girls were participating better than the boys. It was hard to get the boys to even read parts like "Murderer 3," where they would only have a line or two. After Banquo's parts were up, he volunteered to read other parts! This was after starting the class by saying MF'er around 19 times and calling me whiteboy - now I had him on my side, and things were looking up. What's more, these kids were into it.
Our friend Banquo said of Macbeth, "Damn, he just killin' everybody!" That's true, actually.
This is interesting though: after Banquot dies, his ghost comes back to visit Macbeth. It was around this time that our Banquot hit his knee on his desk and let out an impressive chain of obscenities. I said, "Banquot's ghost has returned! And he's swearing!"
That even got a laugh out of some of those too cool for school kids who didn't want to do anything.