Doug Engelman, 69, is a Ph.D. student at the University of South Florida. He is an adjunct professor at the University of Tampa also, where he teaches Sociology. One of his students is Dylan Romero, 18 years old.
“Dylan is a very entertaining and dynamic student, he has spoken a lot in class and I encourage a lot of discussions,” Engelman told BuzzFeed News. “In sociology, we deal with many current issues related to social class, stigmatization, racism, etc.”
In a discussion of culture and religion a few weeks ago, Engelman Romero asked for his decision to use a rag as a cultural symbol.
“We were on the theme of cultures and how we represent them, how we dress in the way we speak, the rules we follow, and we emphasize that I always use a dummy. In class he asked “Dylan, do you have a du-rag as part of your culture?” And I said, “No, that’s my way of life,” Romero told BuzzFeed News.
Romero joked that Engelman wore one, making the class laugh.
“I do not know if it’s good to look for me,” Engelman replied but said the two would be fun later.
Last Thursday, Romero said he had come to class a little too late. He went to his teacher in front of the class to surprise him with his own rags.
“I was so nervous, I did not want to lie,” Romero recalls, laughing.
When he asked his teacher to try one out, Engelman said he was a bit surprised, but he followed Romero’s instructions and tried his new du-rag.
“I’m a 69-year-old white man who does not feel well in a snap,” Engelman said. “But I just went to it, and I was so glad he did.”
The video has become viral. Engelman said he was surprised how much positivity he received, especially by the black people in the Twitter community.
People congratulated him for pausing his lesson for one second so that one of his students could teach him something.
“I felt that Dylan and I were brothers, only 40 years younger and of a different race,” Engelman told BuzzFeed News. “It was not planned, so this kind of impact … it’s amazing.”
He said that even USF students, where he teaches, fell on Romero’s video and told him about it.
Romero said he felt compelled to share something personal with his teacher, but it was also a gesture of gratitude for conducting an interesting class discussion.
“This man changed my way of thinking about life in a different way while I was in his class, and I could not thank him enough,” he explained. “I thought, let me bring you your own clothes so you can remember when I’m gone.”
“Seeing him in a rag has really brought so much love and joy into my heart,” he added. “He showed me the point of view of a sociologist, and he changed me completely for the better.”