On Teaching Black

Note: this post is teaching black, not teaching while black. That's another whole thing that we'll talk about later. This post is about teaching in a way consistent with black cultural codes (don't be racist, I'm talking about the things that are awesome about black culture, because there isn't a single problem with the black community that can't be solved by the complete eradication of white supremacy).

So what is teaching black? Think of it like this - I know how to survive in the world as a black woman. Teaching black is teaching in a way that gives my kids the skills to be leaders to survive and thrive in the classroom and in the world, and to love every single little bit of their blackness. You don't have to be black to teach black. I've seen 4 white teachers kill it teaching black.

I also kill it teaching black. I don't think I'd kill it teaching white (like consistent with middle class white cultural codes and teaching white kids how to navigate the world - I don't want to do the former and I can't do the latter).

Here's an oft cited example:

Teaching white:

Teacher: Marco - would you please apologize for grabbing the paper from Devon?

Marco: Nope.

Teacher responds with some sort of consequence

Teaching black:

Teacher: Marco, excuse me, what did you just do that created a problem?

Marco: Grabbed the paper from Devon.

Devon: Correct, you had better do what then?

Marco: Apologize.

Okay - that's an over simplification, but white cultural codes have parents asking their kids to do things. There is very little asking in black cultural codes and when asked black kids will sometimes not do what seems to be the obvious choice according to white cultural codes.

Teaching while black allows academics to link to lived cultural experiences. Please don't sleep on using Too Short when talking about quality vs. quanity (with all due respect). Don't sleep on using words my students use at home, referencing a value that needs to be distributed as a bossy aunt that has to be in everyone's business (wink wink to my nieces). There's some stuff you already know, and I want to build on that stuff. That's teaching black (at least the part I'm talking about).

It's also not doing annoying and silly things like having students wearing jeans or not wearing jeans being extended some small joy like candy and comparing that to slavery. No boo - white supremacy and racism are systemic and were created over a period of hundreds of years. Please don't trivialize it, make it seem random and like there isn't a specific group that benefits from it. Tell the kids the truth. Teach a little blacker. It's good for the soul :)