Dear White Teacher: T’Kye Wells

For Black and Brown children in the United States, a major part of their schooling experience is associated with White female teachers who have no understanding of their culture. A K-12 school was filled with White teachers who, at their knowledge, were good people but unknowingly were bringing down black culture with their lack of knowledge, care, and love of the black community. A white student wrote a paper about interactions for a missionary trip in South Africa. The teacher told the student that there were people of that culture right in Georgia. She was embarrassed. In recent years, an outburst of national studies have shown that black teachers produce better academic and behavioral outcomes for black students compared to their white teachers . This has led to numerous articles calling for the recruitment of more black teachers and asking where all the black teachers have gone. But the flipside to those studies isn’t making as many headlines. 

       Black teachers on average are better for black students and white teachers on average are worse for black students. Black primary-school students who are matched to a same-race teacher performed better on standardized tests and face more favorable teacher perceptions according to recent findings from the German economic research group Institute of Labor Economics. Some of the same researchers found in a separate study published by Johns Hopkins University that low-income black students who have at least one black teacher in elementary school are significantly more likely to graduate from high school and consider attending college.

       Black teachers are more likely to place high-achieving black students in programs for gifted students. Black teachers suspend and expel black students at lower rates. Singling out recruitment recuses our responsibilities to address the racism that afflicts white teachers and creates conditions that push black teachers out of the profession at an alarming rate. Trying to convince more black teachers to enter a profession they’re likely to abandon after a couple years is not even half a solution.

       Black educators have been focused on the problems associated with racism and bias for generations, but have not had reform systems built around their ideas. A recent offering came from Columbia Teachers College professor Christopher Emdin’s 2016 book  “For White Folks Who Teach in the Hood and the Rest of Y’all.” Emdin talks about  the work of University of Wisconsin-Madison professor Gloria Ladson-Billings. 

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“Addressing Race and Racism Head-On in the Classroom”

T’Kye Wells

I think the biggest issue within our education system is the teaching and learning of differences among cultures. Race and racism can be a touchy subject, but it is so crucial that educators take the time to teach these younger children about all of the different cultures. As it stated in the text, schools in the country are becoming more diverse, which forces educators to expand curriculums to include people from a wider range of racial, ethnic, religious and cultural backgrounds. Educators must put emphasis on these teachings especially when referring back to historical narratives, instead of only focusing on the very narrow view of United States history. We must start to educate these children on deeper historical issues such as social injustices, racial issues and most importantly inequalities within our country. When we look back onto history and within the history books, no author goes into depth about the details occurring in our past, nor do they bring out those experiences these individuals faced. The article writes, “it’s up to teachers to bring those voices into the classroom via primary source documents” allowing the students to read themselves of real events which occurred. This tactic does not only help the students to better understand these stories, but also hearing first hand – from an individual’s specific situation allows for them to dive deeper into these issues, that they are real. Keeping with this topic, I feel that a constant classroom full of diversity is needed. These students are around many different kinds of cultures, religions and races and they need to be exposed to learning about them also. We can’t just throw our students into society without any education about these differences within groups or individuals they will be interacting with. “Even small changes – like sharing one book that references a child’s experience – can make a difference.” This tactic mentioned from Natalya Gibbs in the article is a good reference to steps we can take to expose these students to new experiences. This can fall onto other ideas for the classroom, where the children see these differences and are excited to learn about the new cultures within their friends lives at school – forcing them to talk to each other and be around others who are not like them. This is so important for child development additionally, kids need to be shown different ways and norms influencing their behavior and interactions in the classroom and public. 

In the “Black is Beautiful” poem, the writer refers to the power and fulfilling feeling they feel being black. There are biases, assumptions and hidden things about the African American race but also monumental moments our society congratulates us for. This poem shows that no matter a race, no matter the color of our skin or the assumptions others can have about African Americans, anything is possible and they are still beautiful. You do not have to change your appearance to make an impact or make history. The article refers to the “inclusive vision of history” acknowledging women, black, asian and LGBTQ.  We as a society must view everyone equal without assumptions and prior bias’s. Us as educators can, as said in the article, “highlight the resilience and resistance of communities throughout histories” meaning we as a whole need to come together and adapt to all of our own norms while ignoring those cultural differences that do not make a difference – so why bother bugging over a simple clash. There needs to be more stress put into the education and knowledge others have on cultures opposite of theirs, though they do not have to agree – but appreciate and see. We all are our own person, with our own norms creating history day by day – why should we separate our cultures when we could all come together and make an even better story in history. 

Gonser, S. (2021, March 19). Addressing race and racism head-on in the classroom. Edutopia. Retrieved September 27, 2022, from https://www.edutopia.org/article/addressing-race-and-racism-head-classroom 

BlogPost

My name is T’Kye Wells.

I am from Canton, Ohio.

I am a freshman and I plan on either teaching social studies or physical education.

I play football and I am a very active person. I feel like that I need to be on my feet and to be moving.

This story is very important to me because it makes me happy about the highs, but also makes me realize my lows in life.

I am a kinesthetic learner. I’m very hands on and need to do things multiple times to get engraved in my mind.

I’ve always liked to express myself as a student. Being me and never backing down makes me who I am today.