Because I am a Black Educator…

By Marla Hunter, Founder and President of Live.Love.Teach!, LLC

@LiveLoveTeachLLC

As a Black woman, who also happens to be an educator, there are things that happen throughout the day that my non-Black counterparts don’t have to deal with and probably don’t really think about when teaching Black and Brown students.

As I reflect back on my 16 years in the of field education, both stateside and internationally, I am both heartened and dismayed. Considering my experiences in public, independent, charter and private schools, both as a classroom teacher and as an administrator, I realize that my outlook on the world of education has been a complete emotional rollercoaster. 

For the majority of my time, the bulk of my experience has been working with students who look like me. This is NOT to say that I have not worked with other demographics, because I have, in fact, and I thoroughly enjoy it. When it comes to education and working with fellow educators, regardless of the student demographics that I’m serving, I tend to gravitate toward those who understand the struggles of being Black and/or being a Black woman.

So, if you are reading this and you happen to not be a BIPOC (Black Indigenous Person of Color) or a POC (Person of Color), welcome to the perspective and reflections of a Black woman educator.

Because I am a Black Educator

I go into the classroom with the mindset that I will be educating my students on Black and Brown history ALL 180 days of the school year. Most do not realize that Black History Month started as National Negro History week in 1926. If it weren’t for Carter G. Woodson and Minister Jesse E. Moorland creating the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH), even the week in February wouldn’t be.

It is my goal to interweave the life and history of Blacks from all around the world into my classroom and into my conversations with teachers, so they know the importance of Black people globally. 

It is my goal to show them that Black History matters and to remember the very famous words of John Henrik Clarke that, “History is not everything, but it is a starting point. History is a clock that people use to tell their political and cultural time of day. It is a compass they use to find themselves on the map of human geography. It tells them where they are, but more importantly, what they must be.”

Because I am a Black Educator

I tell my students that I love them constantly. 

According to GoodTherapy, “Love is a complex set of emotions, behaviors, and beliefs associated with strong feelings of affection, protectiveness, warmth, and respect for another person.” All of these strong feelings are very important to me as an educator because they help me to understand my students better and they also help my students to see that I am a person, too.

Telling my students that I love them is very important to me because every day they go out into a society that covertly and overtly tells them that they do not matter. I want them to KNOW and FEEL that they are loved, and they matter.

Because I am a Black Educator

Most of the time, I am the only voice, dissenting or otherwise, to stand up about issues that affect BIPOC.  This becomes very tiring. Just because I am a Black educator does not mean that I can relate to everything that my Black students and/or my fellow Black educators are experiencing. However, I can provide a positive listening ear.

As a Black educator, I’m often viewed as a disciplinarian and not as an educator.  This happens countless times as a classroom teacher and administrator.  It’s as if I have an imaginary sign outside of my door that states, “Here is Ms. Hunter’s room. Please drop off your ‘difficult’ students here. Also, don’t worry about leaving any work…‘cause Ms. Hunter has it all!”

When I look over my life and my career, both stateside and internationally, I can say that I absolutely love what I do. However, the unseen burden of being a Black woman educator has its ups and downs. There’s A LOT of work that needs to be done within education to make sure that our experiences are understood. It is important to understand why we become educators in the first place, what we bring to the classroom and to the entire field of education, and the challenges we experience because of our race.

Because in the end…

I am Black. I am an educator.

Black educators matter. Black students matter.

BLACK LIVES MATTER!

____

Marla Hunter is the founder and president of Live.Love.Teach!, LLC, a global education consulting firm. She has worked with many global organizations, and presented to numerous leaders, to help create more inclusive organizations. Marla is an expert in providing training in: DEI (Diversity Equity & Inclusion) with a focus on unconscious bias, cultural competence, inclusive leadership, women’s advancement, authentic leadership, and in allyship with EdTech, Teacher Selfcare, and Math Talks.  She is also an avid curriculum developer and instructional designer.

References

Anonymous. (September 2, 2002). How to tell whether it’s love, like or lust. Jet 102.11, 12-14. 

Prinz, J. J. (2007). The emotional construction of morals. Oxford University Press.

Wilson, G. D., & McLaughlin, C. (2001). The science of love. Fusion Press.

Share

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *