White Teachers vs. Black Teachers via Instagram 7.20.17
*Notes from Facebook: I am not a good black woman I am a good woman. I am not a good black teacher I am a good teacher. I am not a good black writer I am a good writer. I do not care who agrees/understands why I am choosing to push solidarity now, after years of pushing pro-blackness. I am evolving. I cannot focus on who understands. I can only focus on what's important: matching my beliefs with my actions. It is not my responsibility to persuade anyone to follow, it is only important that I am true to self. I want to see peace. I understand what it takes: rethinking your own biases and challenging yourself enough to grow. Love always. Heal self first. Then, work on your communities.
Her experience is very common. In fact, when attending Hopkins, I asked a professor about the PhD program and she gave me the same reaction that this young lady is describing. Like it killed her to offer guidance on anything that would advance our community. Not posting this to lash out on any teacher that is guilty of such. Who cares about them?! Super irrelevant, like seriously! Sharing because of the line where she says, "Children learn better when they see a face similar to their's in the classroom." This is a myth, perpetuated by the experiences of far too many of us who have been discriminated against, by teachers outside of our "race." Though some may be able to account for a time when they were able to grasps concepts easier with a "black" teacher than with a "white" or foreign teacher, I argue that it was not because of their ability to relate to the students. Been teaching for almost a decade and the majority of my mentor-teachers are women and men who consider themselves white. They are effective at relationship building, they bond with their students outside of school, and have fostered life-long relationships. I used to say, we need more teachers of color who can relate to our youth but honestly, just because you're "black" doesn't mean you will relate and just because you're "white" doesn't mean you have nothing in common with your students. How will we be change-agents if we fail to move away from the color binary in our classrooms? We need all teachers to be AWARE. Be aware of the misconceptions that students believe because of their prior experiences with other teachers. White teachers don't have to be "woke," they have to possess a willingness to self-reflect on who they are as educators, every single day. And that goes for all teachers. ALL. It's time to build upon the truth: What makes a teacher a strong teacher* is NOT the color of their skin but the space in their hearts, the ever growing expansion of their perspective, and the ability to see every single child as a human that deserves to gain knowledge.
*Strong = being understanding, patient, flexible, innovative, artful, respectful, supportive, and unconditionally loving.
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