I came across this Instagram page when I searched #blackteachers and #blackeducators. A whole page dedicated to black female educators! I am all about black women empowerment. It is something that is near and dear, simply because I too am a black female educator. I am in my second year teaching and I love working with students and getting to see them grow and grasp new concepts. I have high expectations of my students and they know I do, and it’s only the third week of school.
Being a black educator is more common than most people think. What we do lack is black male educators, which I feel is an impertinent part of educating black students, more specifically and importantly, black boys. Many black boys do not have that positive male role model to look up to, therefore, they tend to stray off towards a path of self destruction, or follow in the footsteps of negative male behaviors (i.e. drugs, alcohol, gangs, crime, jail, victims of police brutality).
Granted that there are enough black female teachers, I still feel like we need to do so much more for our young girls. I have been in education for four years, and the things I have seen and heard among young black girls is heartbreaking. Working in a high school setting you hear about body counts (sexual partners, not murders), twerking, baby daddies, gossiping and just girls tearing themselves and others down. This is why I feel my job as an educator is so important.
Yesterday, one of my female students came up to me and said that one of my male students said to her and her friends “girl love.” Now she took it offensively (I teach 4th grade) in a way that would have the boy suggest they were gay or liked each other. I told her that I don’t think that is what he meant (given the personality of the young male student), and I told her that he more than likely meant “girl love” as in you all are friends and love each other. I explained to her that “girl love” is about women and girls lifting each other up and helping each other. It’s about not picking on each other or bullying, but being kind and supportive. She walked away annoyed that the boy didn’t get in trouble and she was completely untouched by my speech, but I felt great explaining that to her (though she probably thought I was crazy).
I feel that being a black female teacher is like the students having a second mother ( I can’t even count the times I’ve been called “mom” and “mama”), one who teaches them in ways that their parents either can’t because either they don’t have the resources or they don’t have the time. It’s kind of like a coparenting situation.
I encourage more black women, and men, to become educators and teach our youth in ways that they can’t be taught by those who don’t look like them. Having a familiar face in the classroom is significant to their learning.
You can find the t-shirt on Black Girls Teach website, and you can follow them on IG @blackgirlsteach.