Now, that you’ve heard my struggle with Munch’s teachers in my Parenting 101 tips, I want to let you know why I can’t stop fighting. That I’m not done yet. It’s simple…race. Munch is black. I’m black.
I have a black son. A son who was stigmatized by some the minute he was born. Because he’s black. I know that he will be just a “boy” to some, a “nigger” to others and“angry” to many. But, he’s my son. A black boy. He’s not a threat to America. He’s 7.
I grew up in this country. The America I grew up in was filled with many different races, religions and very few hateful comments. I knew I was black. My color didn’t matter to many or so I thought. I mean in the south you’re used to racist remarks, but up north, it’s supposed to be different right?
I remember thinking that if the President got elected that my newborn son would have someone to look up to. That he would see another black man and that the most important job in the world wouldn’t seem impossible for him to achieve. He could really do everything if Barack Obama was elected President of the United States.
He was elected. Racial tensions changed. The country that I loved so much and eloquently studied history on – was now showing it’s true colors. Why? When did the country that I had believed was moving forward begin to move backwards? When did it become acceptable to become a racist and then try to justify said racist remarks in defense of protecting the USA.
From what? Me? My 7 year old son? Heck, I’m trying to protect him. Each and every day that he awakens, I’m trying to protect him from becoming a target. From being ignored. From being disregarded, disrespected or dismissed. He matters. I matter. We matter.
Every day I wake up new statistics show that our little brown babies are being ignored. From being overlooked in talented and gifted programs or from teachers that have low expectations for them. When did this attitude become acceptable?
Three of my favorite teachers from high school still mean the world to me. I owe them so much. They were not only wonderful teachers, they were wonderful women. They shaped my belief that I could do anything. They nurtured and molded me into an intelligent woman that would someday conqueror the world. They were white.
I didn’t really understand the importance of role models at that time or the importance of having them, but I admired them. I loved the way they commanded attention when they walked down the hall. I loved the way they invested in each student. I loved the way they never let me take the shortcut or easy way out.
They believed in me. They helped me believe in myself. Where are these same kind of teachers now? Where are they when it comes to teaching my son? Is it because I was a girl? Nope. I can’t believe that’s all to it.
My shift has changed because I am a black woman raising a black boy in a post Jim Crow era when it seems we’ve moved backwards. Reading that teacher expectations reflect biases hurts me. Not just as a person of color. But, as a mother.
White teachers expect significantly less academic success than do black teachers, a new study concludes. This is especially true for black boys. – Jill Rosen, Hub.com
So, what am I saying? If I’m bombarded with news that your racial biases are likely being played out in the classroom can you understand why I will come to my child’s defense? I know about the school to prison pipeline. I’ve heard about it for years.
Black Americans are suspended and expelled at three times the rate of white students. They make up 16 percent of school enrollment, but account for 32 percent of students who receive in-school suspensions, 42 percent of students who receive multiple out-of-school suspensions and 34 percent of students who are expelled. – Lindsey Cook, U.S. News
When I walk into a meeting with a teacher or educator I’m already feeling defensive. I feel like I have to defend my child because statistically speaking we’re looking at him through two different lenses and one could have racial biases in place. It’s not always true. But, realistically speaking I’ve had to tout my academic successes/credentials as well as naming our family’s successes so that his teachers back off and know that they’re not dealing with another poor black kid.
My expectations for my son are high. My expectations for his teachers and the administration is just as high. If I know that white female teachers ignore, have low expectations for black boys and they are disciplined more harshly why would I not feel the need to hold you accountable in the beginning?
I’m tired folks. I’m tired of fighting and I want some clear and transparent conversations about race and racial biases to be had at the school. Let’s call out the institutionalized racism that exists. Educators should know that black parents are reading and scared that you’re already trying to diagnosis, steer or ignore our children. How can we work together to make sure that we’re all in this together?
That we are going back to the day when it seemed like teachers just wanted to teach you. They were compassionate. They were motivating you. They were supporting you. They knew you.
My President is black. My son is black. I’m tired of fighting and he’s only 7. However, I know that I’m not done yet. I have many rivers and miles to cross. I just want to know that his teachers are crossing them with me and not just standing on the shoreline.