SOBE RANTS: Are Allies in Education Getting in the Way of Black Excellence?

The following post is from your host of SOBE Rants, MarQuis Evans, and is intended as an introductory companion piece for the next SOBE Rants podcast . Follow Quis on this journey by subscribing on Apple PodcastsGoogle Podcasts, or Spotify!

*Disclaimer: I speak multiple vernaculars. The presence of 478 dialect is found in my writing.

On top of there being a shortage of teachers overall, there’s critically a lack of cultured educators who possess the ability to effectively educate our scholars. Due to this, many of our schools that provide service for our scholars blessed with melanin superpowers are populated with educators/administrators who claim to be “allies” to provide quality education for our scholars, but are slick getting in the way of their elevation. Willingness to educate Black scholars, however, is not the only ingredient required to get the job done. For quite some time now, Black educators have been voicing that our “allies” are unintentionally getting in the way, and make decisions that ultimately result in the miseducation of our Black scholars. This leaves us Black educators furious, feeling unheard, and thinking out loud, “What in the pumpkin pie is going on here?”  #TakesShotOfDrink

Peace and Blessings family! Again, I appreciate you for sharing your time and allowing me to indulge in a quick SOBE rant to crack open the door and welcome in another uncomfortable but needed conversation, before we delve into the solution for the State Of Black Education. Now, let us (my multiple personalities) get back to it. I know exactly who needs to hear this (well, read this), but JUST BECAUSE YOU FEEL BLACK LIVES MATTER, DOES NOT MEAN YOU HAVE TO EDUCATE BLACK SCHOLARS OR THAT YOU ARE FULLY COMPETENT OF THEIR ACADEMIC AND BEHAVIORAL NEEDS IN THE CLASSROOM.   

It’s not enough!

I can care less if anyone feels I’m being unprofessional with this piece, but it’s messaged kindly and professionally on a regular basis in the workplace: in meetings, PDs, via email, through classroom check-ins, and even through Black instructional coaches to educators not of the culture. At this point, we can no longer cater to people’s feelings at the expense of exceeding the needs of our Black scholars. What I’m about to say is coming from love, and asking for actions to follow this read. If you’re an ally reading this, I love and appreciate you for the will to support our Black babies. Now that you agreed to join the team, there comes a time in the game where that serious locker room talk must happen to hold everyone on the team accountable to secure the win. Just know that my words are coming from a place of love and respect for you choosing the field of education. My message for today is for y’all to learn to know when to share valuable information, as well as when to remain silent and listen to those who were born on the black experience trail. 

Below are a few areas where we need for y’all to listen for us to move forward:

Set High Expectations and Do Not Lower the Bar for Anything

We are fully aware of our traumas and do not need your sympathy. We are a group of people who can magically turn shit into sugar, and are able to produce spectacular results with the little we’re offered. Our mission is to properly prepare our scholars to thrive in a world that creates obstacles specifically for them to fail. They may temporarily enjoy your sympathy and kindness, but your lack of accountability is detrimental to the development of their mindset. It contributes to the survival mindset versus elevating the thriving mindset. There’s another level of mental stability and grit that us as people of African descent possess that has allowed us to rise above the bullshit presented to us.  Therefore, do your job as an educator by continuing to provide rigorous lessons, despite anything our scholars experience, because they’re not given that same grace outside of the school’s protection. Your methods are giving our Black scholars a false sense of entitlement and privilege that does not align with the curriculum and lessons the world will teach them. Provide them with resources to overcome instead of giving them an excuse to fail. 

Build relationships, but keep balance. 

Are you afraid of holding them accountable because you feel they’re going to call you racist? 

At times, it seems y’all show love to our scholars by being nice and giving them excuses to fail during times of misbehavior. There has to be a set boundary of the warm and demanding teaching style. Every school year, I witness the ally educators on my campus being really loose with the school’s disciplinary/culture policy because they “feel” it’s policing Black bodies. They want to prove that they care about the scholar, but get burnt out throughout the school year and struggle to manage a safe classroom setting where scholars can actually learn. This results in them becoming frustrated with the behaviors of the scholars, many of whom typically don’t get in trouble getting sent out of class, but now will have little to no academic growth, or even transition from the school mid-year. Part of building relationships with our scholars is showing them tough love and having an understanding of the warm but demanding teaching style. Being nice does not get you the respect; it only makes you a target to get run over. Your classroom is your ship. Be the captain of it. 

Be yourself. 

In other words, be authentic. Every Black child is not from the same area/upbringing, nor do they have the same personality. I repeat, every Black scholar is not from the ‘hood! Do something other than attempting to learn Tik Tok dances or the latest rap lyrics. Gary Owens, stand-up comedian, is a true example of this. Gary Owens has a large Black following, but never does he attempt to be anything but himself. Even if your style is more like Ben Stein from the Clear Eyes commercials, always bring your humor and individuality to the table, with the knowledge that you’re an amazing individual yourself. 

It takes more than a pinch of seasoning to cook up Black minds of excellence. I ask that all allies listen to those who are proficient in seasoning everything we come in contact with. Again, do not participate in seasoning deficient activities by giving our black scholars a false sense of privilege, leaving them unprepared to nourish the world with black excellence.   

Tune into the SOBE Rants Podcast on all podcast platforms, including Apple PodcastsGoogle Podcasts, and Spotify.  Excited to have this conversation with you.

Image: Gregory (Tyler James Williams) and Jacob (Chris Perfetti) of “Abbott Elementary” (Courtesy of ABC).

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