Dear Teachers Who Teach My Black Child:
Black parents don’t just worry about curriculum and lunch room shenanigans when we send our children to school every weekday morning. We honestly worry about you, as their teachers. If you are open to listening, here a few things that I think most parents of Black children would love for you to hear and understand.
1. N*gger is more than a “bad word.” “N*gger” carries the weight of 300 years of slavery, millions of dead Africans, cotton fields and whips, hangings, rapes and torture. Calling a child a “n*gger” is an assault.
2. Some of the assignments that you give to our kids are culturally insensitive or need to be handled with sensitivity. You have the task of determining if the assignment is inclusive and appropriate for all of your students. Both my kids have been assigned multiple times an ancestry project that requires them to trace their family roots back to their country/countries of origin. Due to the legacy of slavery, the majority of Black children do not know from what African or Caribbean country their people were stolen.
3. No child wants to be the representative for an entire race. Don’t ask them to be. Please don’t call on my child every time there is a discussion about race.
4. Continuously “check” your unconscious bias. You have biases. Own it. We all do. It means you are human. You are a better human – and will be a better teacher – if you are aware and frequently “check” how you think about others.
5. Similarly, don’t criminalize our kids. Black students were three and a half times more likely to be suspended or expelled than their White peers. No studies have shown that African American students misbehave with greater frequency than White kids. Be fair. You may need to sort through your biases, take a moment to consider each situation and each child individually.
6. Learn how to pronounce his or her name correctly and don’t act as if it is difficult, odd or an inconvenience. If you can’t, smile and say, “I really want to say your name properly. Is it —.”
7. Understand that we love our kids and that our expectations for them are high. We expect your expectations to be high, as well. (@beatnik24)