Black Male Teacher...You DID Sign Up For This
Updated: Nov 1, 2021
This past week I went to a forum held here in Charlotte, North Carolina called "Black Men in Education". As I heard the panel address many issues about the state of education for black male students and teachers, an undeniable truth began to surface in my heart!
I signed up for this! Whether I agreed to it or not this is what I signed up for!
1. To be a role model, an example, a father-figure
Black male educators make up 2% of the teaching population here in the United States. In many communities fatherlessness is a real issue. This issue is many times over-dramatized but for someone who taught in the inner city of Pittsburgh, I know first hand how many of my boys' fathers were not at home, uninvolved, or sometimes incarcerated. So I must tell you that you signed up to be a role model because you are rarely seen in this light! Many people have not seen a black man represented in such a way so YOU MUST SHOW THEM whom we are by sharing who you
are. I remember during open houses, black parents would say, "I did not know you were here!" :-) Don't hide. Don't run away from this. This is what you signed up for!
You Must show them who WE are by share who YOU are!
2. To Be an Expert
How many times has that teacher come to you and asked you how to deal with __________? How many times have you thought or said, "I am NOT the expert for all things, black boys!" Well...I'm DELIGHTED to say, YOU ARE! I am not saying that we all share the same narrative, or we all think the same, look the same or act the same. What I am saying is that YOU, my friend, are rarely seen! And since you are here, you must speak to the issue of why we are rarely seen as teachers in the classroom. Am I implying to have a script ready...well somewhat! I know, you are not the token man for black educators, BUT, you are someone those boys can look at and see that same radiant pigmentation upon their skin. They want to connect with you so connect and show others that don't look like us, how to connect. You share their ancestry and believe it or not, you are the closest to an expert that your colleagues/administration will sometimes ever experience. Embrace it! Take on the challenge. Set boundaries, but understand you signed up to be an expert on all things "black boys".
You are someone those boys can look at and see that same radiant pigmentation upon their skin
3. To advocate for us
I personally grew up in a town where the expectation for me was to play sports and get the girls. I was not athletic and extremely timid, so that did not work out well! But I found myself always tutoring my boys Carlos, Jamaar, and Courtney. I kept telling them that we have to do better! We have to shine a light on other areas that have nothing to do with sports and entertainment. We will put ourselves in a box and so will those who teach us. Inform your colleagues that they excluding us when they choose the books they chose to read, the games they play, the field trips they suggest/attend, the music they promote, the culture they bring into the classroom. Advocate for us because they may not know they are excluding us from the system that is supposed to empower us.
We have to shine a light on other areas that have nothing to do with sports and entertainment.
As I sat in the forum I embraced all the expectations once more and put on a strength to fight another year for our Black boys. Black male teacher, you are a superhero! I know you may feel out of place, overworked, unappreciated, but I can tell you that WE NEED YOU IN THE CLASSROOM! Because the reality is...You DID sign up for this!