I do not want to ramble forever, but tonight's experience made me think hard. I came to some realizations. A few I had already recognized a few years ago. First, while I went to predominately black grade schools, I never had a math or science teacher who was of African American in high school, especially being in honors/advanced/AP courses. I feel to an extent that is why I did not always succeed as well as I could in those classes. I did not feel that the information was relatable nor did the teachers find a way to make the connections for the most part with me. Do not get wrong, Mr. and Mrs. Avila, were great. She is an Asian woman who defied many odds of her coming to this country at the age of six and her husband Mr. Avila, who is Jewish (if I am not mistaken) and Portuguese. They tried to make connections and they very good at developing relationships with students. I thank them. However, as a black male, I never saw people who looked like me teaching me especially in high school math and science. In a phrase I hear many urban students say, but it made me "Feel some type of way!"
The conversation from the chat tonight made me realize I was not the only person to have this experience. I also began to think about now being an elementary school teacher and the number of African American males that teach at my school. There are only three...the physical education teacher, a fifth grade teacher, and myself. We are actually fortunate! For many schools, there are none.
I guess, after three paragraphs, my major question is, where are the black male educators? I am grateful to live in a predominately black city, Atlanta, where you see so many successful African Americans. I am grateful to be in a school district where there are a significant number of African Americans. But even still, there are many schools that lack African American males in classrooms where I work and its much worse across this country?
Again where are the people like me? Why are they not choosing this field? What barriers hold them back from wanting to pursue educating as a career? More need to be recruited and we need to expose our children to them, especially other young African American male.
I feel this is why sometimes when I meet other male teachers who are African American, I feel the need sometimes, to instantly connect. Our network is really small! We need to see people like ourselves to help us succeed and more importantly our students. Our presence can help change stereotypes and mindsets. Furthermore, I am not saying we must separate ourselves as African American males; however, it is nothing more positive to see someone like you, who is the same race and gender, who can relate to what you do. Some may say that maybe I am paying to much attention to Race, but my response would be "We are not paying ENOUGH attention to Race and Gender!"