By: Jennifer Gray
Are black educators essential to the education system? I would argue that we are an
extremely vital component of the system. Why? Simply because representation matters!
Representation within school communities is so important, especially in the world we live in
today. Since integration was mandated by the US Supreme Court with Brown v Board of
Education Topeka (1954), the demographics for students have become more diverse- ethnically and racially. When walking through any given public school in Metro Nashville, you will find a melting pot of students soaking up their experiences, creating memories with others that surround them, and forming their idea of success based on the opportunities presented to them.
A zip code does not determine how successful a person can be. It is important that black
students have teachers, principals, counselors, deans, etc. who look like them not only to be a role model, but also to be a voice for the voiceless. I grew up in a low income, inner city
neighborhood in a single parent household. Statistically speaking, I should be dead, in jail, or the head of a single parent household. That is what my zip code says about me. My teachers, my BLACK teachers, said otherwise. My Black teachers afforded me opportunities to grow my talents and use them as a productive citizen of society. They were my voice.
The color of your skin does not determine how successful a person can be. Research has
proven that academic, achievement, and discipline gaps between Black students and their
counterparts have widened throughout the years. Students must learn that they are not a
statistic. Students must know that they are capable of achieving and excelling through any
academic setting. Black educators prove to students that achievement is closely aligned to
mindset. Black educators have the ability to relate to Black students in a way that others may
not be able to.
We understand what it is like to grow up as a Black student with the odds stacked against us before we have the chance to showcase our talents and our worth. We recognize that every student is capable of excelling their learning regardless of what their background, but also recognize that students’ backgrounds have an effect on their achievement. More specifically, Black students personal and historical background play a big part in the options presented to them. Black educators have the unique opportunity to showcase the beauty of being gifted, educated, and BLACK. We provide a perspective that other educators can only vaguely describe.
So, why are Black educators important? Black educators are precious gems to the education field. We cultivate strength and resilience. We are important because we disrupt the institutional inequalities that help with widening the social, economic, and academic gaps between people of color and our counterparts. We leverage our background to repair the botched educational system our Black students are faced with today. We are their voice. They are our future.