I didn’t always think about writing about my experiences. I wasn’t reluctant to share them either. But, I was mostly content to share what I saw, heard, learned, and thought about our schools in one-on-one and small group conversations. Sure, I’d pen a once-in-a-blue-moon op-ed somewhere, but at some point, it dawned on me that it just wasn’t enough.
Many people I spoke to were unaware of what was actually happening in our schools, or regurgitated talking points, or lacked the experiences to provide nuance and insight. Others, didn’t necessarily come with a education for liberation framework.
I firmly believe that a fully engaged and informed citizenry benefits the health and well-being of our public school system. Without it, the mis-education and oppression of millions of kids-many who are students of color- will continue.
In 2017, here are some of the big issues that I and my guest bloggers wrote about.
Black educators discuss what happens in their schools when White women cry. Their experiences ranged from seeing the attention children deserved being diverted to console the crying teacher, to school leaders basing their “student-centered” decisions on White teachers’ reactions. With over 90% of Pennsylvania’s teachers being White women, Dr. Kelli Seaton dives into this topic with some clear ideas and reflections for school communities needing to engage in this work.
There are two types of White folks who ask me what can I do to help Black children. One is seeking to be a disruptive, yet humble co-conspirator to dismantle White supremacy and start the healing process that justice demands. The other wants to feel they are saving a “poor Black kid” so they can feel better about themselves-even if they co-sign on White supremacy. Which are you?
A hypocrite is someone who claims to have one set of standards or beliefs, that their actual behavior does not conform to. Many White liberals share a set of unique and damning hypocritical ideas. Namely, that their children deserve to have schools chosen for them, but Black and Brown kids don’t. Are you a hypocrite?
While I am on a personal mission to help schools increase the number of Black male educators, especially teachers and principals, many men I have encountered believe that schools only value them as disciplinarians. Across the country, Black men who have varied talents are only viewed as overseers that are there to control Black kids. Dr. Kelli Seaton engages a group of Black men to discuss this issue.
While Charlottesville got everyone’s attention (much of it fleeting) for our children’s sake, we need more educators who are committed to equity and justice to make a life-long commitment to confront “white supremacy at every opportunity and keep the glare on it.” —Barbara Sizemore
Despite the illegality of racial profiling, police departments still unabashedly engage in it-even if you’re a principal. I share my experience being abused and arrested after a traffic stop. The only thing routine about this stop was that I was a Black Man Driving.
Dr. Seaton engages in the root causes of the disproportionate numbers of Black boys in special education classes. A particularly pernicious cause is the pathologizing of Black boys’ normal childhood behaviors.
Tom Rademacher asks the question that, whether they ask you publicly or not, Black and Brown students frequently ask as well, “Why are so many of my teachers White?” Many students may have 50-60 teachers throughout their Pre-K to 12th grade years, and nary a one of them were Black men. That needs to be fixed.
Tre Johnson visits the East Camden school that Dr. William Hayes leads. He gives great insight about Dr. Hayes’s approach to education, his background, and why he believes more Black men must be in positions to lead America’s public schools and classrooms.
Just as there were “abolitionists” who believed in ending slavery, yet upholding “softer” forms of White Supremacy, today, there are liberals who profess their “beliefs” about equity and justice, but don’t believe that Black children’s human rights necessitate that they operate on an educational field that’s equitable and just.
What are your thoughts? What should have made this list?