Thursday, September 16, 2021

‘These are the facts’: Black educators silenced from teaching America’s racist past

This is a poignant piece on how the current anti-CRT moment is being felt and experience on the ground by African American teachers. It maps on well to many Mexican American teachers' experiences who similarly get into teaching to teach the truth of America's racist past. My colleague, Dr. Keffrelyn Brown's statements on the double-bind that African American teachers experience are most insightful:

“If there’s any conversation around race, the assumption is that Black people will probably be talking about it,” she said. Black teachers aren’t given a space to address important aspects of history without it being seen as largely a personal interest, Brown explained.

It manifests as an extra burden they must bear “just by virtue of who they are and what they are perceived to represent”, she said. And while Black educators have always navigated this conundrum, they are particularly under scrutiny now, at a time when schools interrogating racism is sparking controversy.

“In some cases, what they actually do address in their teaching can be either minimized, or simply written off as bias or personal agendas,” Brown said, and at worst, Black teachers can be labeled ineffective – a pattern found in research on teacher evaluation ratings."

I do hope that school districts, university faculty, educator and administrator associations, civil rights groups, school board associations, as well as broader publics stand up for our teachers and the profession.

All should care, particularly since the kind of knowledge taught in classrooms like these is preparatory for life and careers, as well as for the diverse, multi-ethnic/multi-racial world in which we live.

-Angela Valenzuela

Nelva Williamson at Emancipation Park in Houston. ‘My ancestors matter. I matter. My students matter,’ she said.
Nelva Williamson at Emancipation Park in Houston. ‘My ancestors matter. I matter. My students matter,’ she said. Photograph: Michael Starghill Jr/The Guardian

As 22 states pass or consider legislation on race and racism discourse in classrooms, some Black teachers are reminded daily that their racial identity is a liability

Melinda D. Anderson

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