Teachers of Color

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Above: Danielle Milton, Jillian Thompson, and Ariel  Johnson during homecoming week in November.

The love and want and need to see different types of people is not a liberal or conservative thing; it is a matter of beauty and hope that brings all of us together; I smile knowing that I love all types of people; I smile knowing that my students get to hear and watch me model diversity each and everyday; I smile because my students get to engage in conversations about race and what it means to be open minded. More importantly, I get to have conversations with my Arab, black, Hispanic, Asian, and white students about the importance of diversity and what it means not only to me, but to our campus. As a black student at a dominant white private school, I never had a black teacher. Though I had a great relationship with other faculty members, I often time desired to see a person in the front of the room that looks like me. I went pretty much all of my upper school and college days without having a person of color to mentor me.

I have decided to be more active as a faculty member of color on campus; I have had a number of excellent conversations with black students about topics they feel are important to them. I am most excited about having a lunch meeting with many of the black students on campus about their plight and needs. This is something I can do for them that was never done for me.

I also have the job of modeling my passion for what I do and why I do it. Books such as the End of Racism only paints blacks in a negative light, as noted here from the work:

Black rage is a response to black suffering and failure, and reflects the irresistible temptation to attribute African American problems to a history of white racist oppression. Despite substantial progress over the past few decades, African Americans continue to show conspicuous evidence of failure – failure in the workplace, failure in schools and colleges, and failure to maintain intact families and secure communities. Taken together, these hardships and inadequacies virtually assure that blacks will not eve equality of earnings and status with other groups anytime soon. Even more seriously, they threaten to destroy poor black communities and endanger the economic and physical integrity of society as a whole.

* The annual income of African Americans who are employed in full-time jobs amounts to about 60 percent of that of whites.

* The black unemployment rate is nearly double that of the whole nation.

* One third of blacks are poor, compared with just over 10 percent of whites.

* One half of all black children live in poverty.

* The infant mortality rate for blacks is more than double that of whites.

* The proportion of black male high school graduates who go on to college is lower today than in 1975.

* More young black males are in prison than in college.

* Homicide is the leading cause of death for black males between the ages of fifteen and thirty-four.

* Although African Americans make up 12 percent of the population, they, account for more than 35 percent of all AIDS cases.

* The life expectancy of black men is sixty-five years, a rate lower than any other group in America and comparable to that of some Third World countries.

* Nearly 50 percent of all African American families are headed by single women.

* More than 65 percent of black children born each year are illegitimate.

Whites must understand that being black is not just a matter of skin color, but it is an ideological matter too. Having black teachers or students among the dominant culture often times makes the dominant culture assume that those of color are just like them. Even among middle class blacks, there is a sense of awareness about their needs and their challenges. Such issues are easily forgotten because such middle class blacks speak well, live in nice homes, and seemingly belong to the same venues that the majority belong to; however, the reality is very different. Accepting black people means accepting their attitudes, beliefs, perceptions, and fears. This makes the dynamics of being black in America and a person of color far more complex.

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One thought on “Teachers of Color

  1. “however, the reality is very different. Accepting black people means accepting their attitudes, beliefs, perceptions, and fears. This makes the dynamics of being black in America and a person of color far more complex.”

    You bring up an interesting point here, Eddie. As I consider your words I think they are true not only in a matter of different race or ethnic background, but also in religious, social class, and educational backgrounds as well. America is made up of so many diverse subcultures. Being united without uniformity is very difficult for many to accept. Coming from a Christian perspective (you might have to know me well to understand what I consider a Christian perspective) the Bible teaches that we are to be conformed to the image of Christ. And all human beings were created in His image. This means that the image of God is stamped in seemingly myriads of different ways upon different individuals, and yet every human somehow has the image of God within His person. Conforming to Christ can not be equated to conforming to any one culture or ideal simply existing within any group of humans, whether they be Indian, Asian, African, or British. God calls us to conform to Christ within the culture of the human race He has created us in. The commonalities we share in His image most obviously will not bring about uniformity even as we conform more to the image of Christ. Accepting this within one another, especially in the melting pot of the United States, is a challenge worthy of accepting. Thank you for reminding us of the truth that even when we mix within one another’s subcultures, it does not mean that we are exactly alike. What a beautiful thing it is that we all have the potential to reflect Jesus and the picture is only complete when each very different piece of the puzzle is brought together with peoples from every nation, tribe, subculture, and tongue.

    Looking forward to seeing you and Janette and getting to visit with you in June!!

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