By Jason B. Allen
Black men like NBA star Jaylen Brown, share similar classroom experiences that include being told you’re “bad”, “stupid”, or “are going to end up in jail!”
Our fears, prejudices and stereotypes we place on Black boys begin as early as Kindergarten and this stunts their creativity, hope and level of success in the classroom.
Although there are many stories of Black boys sitting in classrooms right now being told by adults that they aren’t going to make it. Every 1 out 3 male students I teach have this story. Imagine the hundreds of Black boys who have similar stories as Jaylen.
Because of Jaylen’s tweet from 2014 that recently resurfaced, educational advocates are looking at how complaints around racial bias and discrimination towards Black boys in classrooms has increased. demeaning. Our boys can definitely tell the difference between someone helping them to correct their actions as opposed to someone demeaning who they are.
It’s the story of many Black boys in Georgia schools. Parents in Cobb and Gwinnett County are still concerned about racial bias in the district discipline polices. Changing how we educate Black boys begins with reevaluation of the policies that push them into the school to prison pipeline.
This is just one aspect of the school to prison pipeline. Policies that target children of color, largely Black boys who are disproportionately impacted.
Gwinnett STOPP believes that advocacy and engaging parents and students in this process helps. The more parents of Black boys that are reached, the more progress we make. Parents play a major role in building relationships with teachers and school leaders to ensure that our Black boys are protected, prepared and progressing.
We call Black boys “bad” before they even misbehave. There is still a larger number of women and white males who are standing before Black boys in classrooms who don’t understand how to educate Black boys. Being a teacher in a rural district, I witness white teachers and staff discriminate against Black boys. They also coddle their behavior which does not help them.
I have also seen Black teachers be too harsh with Black boys because of who they are and where they come from. Instead of meeting them half way, teachers treat Black boys differently because of stereotypical behaviors they display.
We aren’t the only solution, but having more Black male teachers who are also social justice driven helps. Teaching Black boys has been a true reward for me. Especially teaching Special Education. I am in a position to directly impact the school to prison pipeline by reducing the chances of Black boys failing out of school.
The challenge is, Black male teachers are disrupting the traditional pathways of failure that many Black boys are sent down. It’s the same process of policy development in school districts used to label Black boys as “bad” that also push Black male teachers out of classrooms.