Growing Up Without a Black Male Teacher By: Jahi Flowers, Morehouse College

Black. Male. Teacher.

When I was growing up in K-12 schools, these words often looked weird together, like one of the words was just a filler for the rest of the phrase. In fact, some may even say that it’s cynical claims like these that keep the idea of a “black male teacher” so strange and rarely occurring. But, maybe it’s through the experiences of too many young, black men in the school system that keep these ideas of the “black male teacher” so rare.

Or maybe it’s the fact that many of us were sent to the principal’s office only to find seas of other brown and black students sitting in quiet contemplation wondering why individuals with lighter skin (but mostly white skin) were treated differently. It seemed that they could almost get comfortable in the classroom spewing vulgar language only to receive a polite redirection from the teacher while we were written up, sat in detention, or had our parents called. It’s safe to say that no one would want to reminisce on those, often too frequent, phone calls home. This is especially true considering that most of our experiences in school were not just about finding ourselves but figuring out how to dial ourselves down, in fear of coming off too aggressive or a threat to the “classroom” atmosphere.

As a college student now, I realize that I hardly, if ever had people teaching me who looked like me. How different it might have been if there was someone there who understood me- would those same phone calls happened so frequently? Although there are some initiatives that promote diversity in education, I am still thinking about this. Thoughts of being a black man in education can often feel like an unfamiliar lucid dream.

Did you grow up with Black male teachers? If you did, what kind of impact did that have on you? If not, what do you think this would have done to change/improve your education experience?

3 Comments

  • Kayla Howard says:

    During middle school, I attended a very diverse school, in a primarily white neighborhood. I had to travel all the way across town to get to school and my commute would sometimes take over an hour, so I would often be late. At that time, the consequence for tardies was lunch detention. I’d never noticed until reading this blog, but the seats in detention were often filled by black and brown students. They were also coming from neighborhoods located a greater distance from school. Though lateness should not be encouraged, in my middle school, it was an issue that specifically impacted a group of students. It could have been addressed differently to help find a solution and if there were more teachers who looked like us, they could have advocated on our behalf.

  • Dre'Shawn Spearman says:

    I totally agree with this post. Ironically, I was blessed with many black male educators and coaches that assisted me with my growth throughout my grade school matriculation, and has steadily inspired me to do the same for others.

  • Ke'Ana Darden says:

    I can relate to this so much. Growing up in a predominantly white school, I’ve seen this happen one too many times to my black and/or latino peers. That’s what drew me to attend CAU. Now that I’ve had the experience of being taught by black educators, it has given me the vision to want to teach the young generations & be that black educator for them.

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