Often times we hear individuals stating that as educators we have an additional impact on the lives of our students. When we think about the role of Black male educators we have a profound additional impact. Teach For America, an organization that I am a proud alumni of, has a statement about this that says "teachers who share the backgrounds of their students have the potential for profound additional impact." I find this statement to be extremely true in my day to day work flow as an educator in Memphis, TN and Charlotte, NC. Our boys need us!!! They look up to us!!! They respond to us!!! Our boys cannot be, what they cannot see!!! They need to have positive interactions with educated, black males. This is not to say that our boys do not have access to positive male role models at home, but it is imperative that these boys interact with with as well when they go to school each day.
Nationally, Black males comprise of only 2% of all individuals in the education force. We need more males to play an integral role in the lives of our boys. I have seen firsthand, the benefits of being a Black male educator. I currently have the opportunity to serve as the Resident Principal at Bellevue Middle School in Memphis, TN. 92% of the students at my school are African- American. In essence, we have a school filled with black boys. I have developed a relationship with most if not all of the male students at our school. Most of them simply want or desire to have another man to guide them, teach them, or motivate them. I have realized that most of them just want someone to talk to, to hear them out; someone to vent to. I have one student who comes to my office to see me daily. Our first encounter involved his teacher walking him down to me because he was being disruptive and he was being off task. Instead of really getting on him (Like I normally do!) I chose to talk to him and get to know him. I told him to take out his work and begin working in my office. I then realized that he struggled academically on simple multiplication and division. How has this student gotten so far without anyone holding him accountable to learn. I then sat with him and should him a new method to multiply. He instantly understood. From that day forward, this young man comes to see me to check in with me like clockwork. Days in which I am not in my office, he goes on a search to find me. This past week we had Progress Reports and this young man ran to my office to show me his As and Bs, and before I could say anything he told me that he would bring his C up because he knows I would not be happy with a C. To see such improvements in a student in a short period of time is amazing. This is what needs to be happening all across this nation. But what happens to the boys who has teachers who are not pushing them or looking out for them? What happens to the boys who does not have someone at school each day checking on them and making sure they are on track? These are the boys who end up falling through the cracks.
We must do our part to educate, empower, and enrich our boys. This is life or death for them. They have to be successful in school in order to step foot in society as a Black male. There is a stigma behind this identity. I recently had two encounters with single mothers raising black boys that solidified the fact that black boys need black men to help them become gentleman and scholars. One mother came into the office to discuss her excitement that her son was chosen to be a part of the Gents League. She felt the program will give him the leadership and mentorship that he needs to stay on the right path. I then had another mother come up and advocate for her son. She was extremely hard on her son because she wanted him to be better. Both her and her son were in tears because they both wanted the same thing, but had different ways of getting there. The mother stated that she is doing the best she can trying to raise boys. The mother was thrilled when I told her that I would personally mentor her son and be sure he is the success that we know he can be.
These experiences on top of the numerous interactions and stories I have about all my kids back in Charlotte prove the point that we need more black males to intervene int he lives of our black boys. We need you to teach, mentor, support, guide, motivate, challenge our black boys, and ultimately we need you to serve as a mirror for our boys to see where they can be years from now. This work is hard, but it can be down and we need everyone to take ownership for working with our males. We cannot lose them!!!!
What does it mean to be a black male? Well it means the same as being a male of any race, respect yourself, and respect others, and take responsibility for your actions. It is the black male that is judged and prosecuted even at a young age. We are seen in society as being lazy, savage, and uneducated. Many believe we are only good for entertainment and that we can’t be doctors, lawyers, and educators. Even If you were to become one then you’re seen as a "sellout" or "acting white". It doesn’t take white skin to be successful, but the determination and hard work of the man. We have to ignore what society expects from us and create our own expectations. We must create our own future not just as individuals but also as a race. All lives matter whether you are black, white or Hispanic .Do not let police brutality, gang banging or any other form of violence of our race make you think you are less or that we are nothing.
When you see or hear of an injustice act brought upon a black man don’t look at it as a white man vs. a black man but as one man did wrong and one did right. We are a strong people, we have come from the slave ships to the White House. We have the intelligence and strength to be better than what society wants us to be, we just have to work harder to get there.