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?