The Makings of a Black Teacher

Kanye West once made a very poignant statement about identity in a song – yes, Kanye -said something poignant. He said, “everything I’m not made me everything I am.” There is plenty of evidence that explains why Black teachers are so important to America’s classrooms, especially those filled with Black students. But what may be more telling is the evidence of their lived experiences. I can certainly say the same for myself, that everything I’m not made me everything I am. This particularly tru

Your Diversity Efforts Are OK, But Hardly Enough

There is no debate concerning the significance of Black teachers. Black teachers are important for the outcomes of Black students; both inside and outside the classroom. In addition, Black teachers are not only preferred by Black students, but also by white students and other students of color. Considering those truth, various efforts nationwide have begun the work of increasing the number of Black teachers in America’s classrooms. Some efforts are led by non-profit organizations like the Cente

#WeNeedBlackTeachers

Black teachers are powerful and not simply because a body of empirical evidence says so. It’s because for many of us, if not all of us, our passion for our people fuels our pedagogy. I realized this when I became a teacher. This is not to brag or boast but it is to say that my students leaned on me to teach them truth (history) as well as to help them interpret living in dark skin in a white society. I welcomed the role because I sought to provide my student what I didn’t have.

Yeah, But What Do Black and Brown Teachers Have to Say?

Much of the rhetoric concerning Critical Race Theory (CRT) has come from politicians and parents, many who are white, Missouri serving as an example of that. Educators have offered some commentary as well. Nine out of ten teachers never taught CRT in their classrooms. Thankfully, both the National Educational Association and the American Federation of Teachers both pledged to defend teachers facing legal action for teaching CRT or anything “related” to it. I say “related” because the 1619 Project

An Educator In A System Of Oppression Is Either A Revolutionary Or An Oppressor

Of all our studies, history is best qualified to reward our research. –Malcolm X So, you want to teach the REAL history… You’re a teacher; maybe a history or a literature teacher. You could even be a math or science teacher. You may not be as verse in all the history and all the terminology. Truth is, you didn’t learn much other than white supremacy propaganda during your formal education. But you’ve gotten a taste of truth. You’ve heard the terms white supremacy, systemic racism, and institutional

The Black Male Messiah In Our Schools

Just the other day I saw a tweet that cautioned Black folks to divest from the “Black Male Educator as the Messiah” myth in education and it got me thinking; is there a messiah myth about Black male educators in education circles? The answer depends on who you ask. I can say from personally experience that my Black-maleness was welcomed in schools by both Black and white educators alike, but for different reasons. Black educators welcomed my presence because my presence could serve as another

Educational Leadership from a CRT Lens

Much of the outrage against Critical Race Theory being taught in schools across the United States is misguided. Critical Race Theory (CRT) is a concept that asserts that historical patterns of racism are ingrained in law and other modern institutions, and that the legacies of slavery, segregation and Jim Crow still create an uneven playing field for Black people and other people of color. The theory is supported by a ton of research and is mainly taught in higher educational institutions, law

America, You Can’t Ban The Truth… No Matter How Hard You Try

“If one managed to change the curriculum in all the schools so that Negroes learned more about themselves and their real contributions to this culture, you would be liberating not only Negroes, you’ll be liberating white people who know nothing about their own history.” –James Baldwin Paulo Freire said in his classic work, Pedagogy of the Oppressed, that the great humanistic and historical task of the oppressed is to liberate themselves and their oppressors. No doubt, Black people are an oppres

Returning To Normal… With All Deliberate Speed?

Certainly, the masses of Americans are ready to return to “normal.” By normal I mean a return to engaging in all the activities and indulgences of life. An unavoidable truth is that for “normal” to return – activities that serve one or both functions of generating income and/or entertaining – young people must return to school. The Coronavirus pandemic is obviously why we’re far from normal, but is normal our preferred destination? For many Black students, normal wasn’t all that great. Public

No Respecter of Black Bodies: Neither the Living or the Dead

One of my favorite stories is Homer’s Iliad. Within are stories within a story. One involves the heroes Achilles and Hector. Both were the alphas of their sides and dedicated to meet on the battlefield. Hector believed he bested Achilles but it was actually Patroclus, Achilles cousin, dressed in Achilles armor that Hector killed. Achilles, by himself, traveled to Troy to fight Hector to avenge the death of his cousin… and he did. After he killed Hector, he took his remains with him – as insult

Black Principals: A Bridge for Black Teachers

The research is clear on the impact of Black teachers on Black student achievement. Black students who have had at least one Black teacher are more likely to graduate from high school, attend college and are less likely to drop out of school. Black students are also less likely to be disciplined at the hands of a Black teacher. But what about Black principals; what does the research say about their impact on Black students? A recently released report may provide us with some new insights. A Wa

The Consciousness of the Complicit Racist

To understand the attacks on Critical Race Theory (CRT) in the form of legislation to make teaching CRT in schools illegal, as well as attacks on systemic racism, white supremacy, historical truths taught in schools about these things, don’t get caught up on the legislators. We know who and what they are. Rather, put your attention on their constituents; white folks who appear friendly but remain ignorant. They are satisfied with maintaining the status quo of their place in society.

Recommendations for Ridding a Racist Hiding in Plain Sight

The insurrection of January 6, 2021 was a dark day in our nation’s history. What makes it even darker is that public servants took part in the dysfunction. In attendance that day were police officers, firefighters, and even educators among our industry. As it pertains to leaders in these industries, I applaud them for investigating and potentially removing these individuals. But these leaders should be equally (or more) concerned with rooting out the racists hiding in plain sight in offices,

Are You Committed To Marginalize Instead Of Cultivate The Black Mind?

When it comes to Black students, often overemphasized is both young men and young women are overly disciplined, and disproportionately so. The overrepresentation of Black students regarding school discipline rates is important to highlight so that it can be corrected. However, less commentary concerns the lack of honoring and cultivating the Black mind. Tina Lawson, like all parents, desires the best education for her children. To that end, Ms. Lawson is an advocate for her three children

Achieving Racial Justice in the Classroom through Inquiry

Curiosity is oftentimes the beginning of learning. When we’re curious, we begin to ask questions. Our questions prompt us to investigate, and our investigations lead to a destination. Sometimes, the destination leads us to a firm conclusion that satisfies our curiosity by answering our original (or newly formed) questions. But sometimes, the destination we reach only offers us more questions. Maybe someone is curious about why some people can afford to live in big expensive houses and others

There’s a Lesson for Educators in the Life of DMX

Rest in peace to Mr. Earl Simmons, popularly known as DMX. I pray that his soul is at rest. What fascinates me about the life of a person, particularly artists who become celebrities, are the events and moments that fueled the person they became. When I think of Earl Simmons and his untimely death, I can’t help but think of the adults who failed him. In a society where personal hardships are blamed on a lack of responsibility; it is easy to blame Earl Simmons for his shortcomings and ultimatel

What Exactly Does "A Return To Normal" Mean To Black Children?

Certainly, the masses of Americans are ready to return to “normal.” By normal I mean a return to engaging in all the activities and indulgences of life. An unavoidable truth is that for “normal” to return – activities that serve one or both functions of generating income and/or entertaining – young people must return to school. The Coronavirus pandemic is obviously why we’re far from normal, but is normal our preferred destination? For many Black students, normal wasn’t all that great. Actual

Black Reconstruction 2.0 Begins With Great Schools For Black Children

One morning during my junior year of high school, I remember my homeroom teacher saying to me in a dismissive tone that Malcolm X was a bad person. I am unsure how we got on the topic of figures in Black history, but I mentioned his name and that was the response. That evening, I told my mom. After her phone conference with my grandmother, which was customary whenever something happened, she decided to call the school the next day. As per her rules, I called my mom when I got home from school

When Will Black Lives Matter In School?

In September of 1915, historian Dr. Carter G. Woodson co-founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH). ASNLH was dedicated to researching and highlighting the achievements of Black people in American and all peoples of African descent. To that end, ASNLH, under the direction Dr. Woodson, established Negro History Week to promote and celebrate the long history of accomplishments of Black people in America. Thanks to the freedom fighters throughout the Civil Rights Movement

Fighting The Power: Black History Month And Beyond

Educators: are you aware that next month is Black History Month? Have you asked your students, specifically your Black students, what they’d like to see and/or do for Black History Month? Or, do you plan on doing the least; that is reading brief bios of famous Black people during morning announcements, putting posters on the walls of the school and/or hosting a pot luck with staff, students and families – whereby Black people are in charge of cooking the food (doing the work as usual)?
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