You know what’s crazy? Out of all of my 12 years of heck–sorry, schooling–I’ve never once had a single black male teacher. I mean, when was the last time you had a Lean-on-Me-style, Morgan-Freeman-built teacher? The Actions Per Minute Reports stated in their 2017 article that black male teachers only take up 2% of classrooms in the U.S. –that’s the same amount of fat in my milk, and even that’s white. Black male teachers are like unicorns, and their mystical presence could forever change the teaching world.
There are two main reasons why there’s only a handful of hardcore, holla-atcha, black male teachers. First is the misconception that black men are like monsters who feed on the tears of crying children. The American Psychological Association stated in a 2018 analysis that black men are perceived as more threatening in our society, making parents less likely to trust them with their kids just because of how they look. Next, black men with the qualifications to become teachers are actually discouraged from the job. The Huffington Post states that “black male teachers are told over and over again that their job is not to teach, and that their time and education should be spent elsewhere making an imprint on the world.” So if we’re too scary or smart, what does that leave us with?
Next, the repercussions of our lack of black male teachers are cray-cray. These include lower performance of kids in school and less probability of their social acceptance. John Hopkins University found that if black students had at least one black male teacher between fifth grade and high school, those students would be 29% more likely to have less behavioral issues and higher academic scores. Also, exposing kids, no matter the race, to these black men can promote the progressive breakdown of social barriers in our societies. Rutgers University stated in 2017 that the presence of black men in the classroom can actually increase the chances for an identity safe area, where each student’s identity is acknowledged and valued, and children can learn to accept each others’ cultural differences. Black men could make these strides if more diversity existed in the teaching world.
Here is how we can collectively solve this problem. One, we can support the people who are supporting these people. And two, we can make sure that this problem is addressed to everyone. We may not have a say in the workforce and how they choose their workers, or persuade someone into doing something they don’t want to do, but we can always give to organizations whose main focus is on these men. The Fellowship is one such organization, and their mission is to show black male teachers that we appreciate them for fighting against the odds, and teaching a whole bunch of snot-nosed human gremlins. Lastly, stay woke about the situation and spread the word. Don’t let this very real and relevant problem just float into oblivion. Read about these low numbers, and think about your next step so that we can better our society.
Being a teacher is hard, especially when you have racial boundaries and odd numbers to compare yourself with. But it is possible. An organization called Black Male Educators Convening boldly stated that teaching is a revolutionary act. Schools are ground zero in our collective struggle against our nation’s long history of inequity. So let’s find us a unicorn–a unicorn with a fro: an afro-corn. And get ready to be mesmerized.