A Reflection on A Reflection

The reflection tells me that I need to write more first and foremost. It also tells me that I have a voice and it is one that others don’t often hear. Maybe I can reach some future educators through this. This however was inspired by simply reading this article entitled The Real Reason Black Kids Benefit from Black Teachers.

I usually just share, but I relate so much to this article. From the showing of the film, which I did also show in class, to the understanding of the difference between sympathy and empathy. My daily responsibilities as a teacher go far beyond being a role model in the regular sense, but it is almost superhero-like.

I realize they (my students) judge me, and want to know everything about me, they share it with their families, their friends, and each other. This is the ultimate sign of respect and affection. So many students openly call other students my children and often tease my about my “super tight” pants, and my J.Crew/ Banana republic Sponsorship. If imitation is the truest form of flattery, then when presentations come around they really show their true colors. Most of their outfits look just like mine. Some are quick to admit it, coming to me to show it off, expressing phrases to me like “hang time” or asking me to borrow one of my ties. Usually in these instances the girls will look at the guys and make a comparison to me saying things like “oh, he could be your son, or he could be your brother.”

My reasons for picking the career path that I have are far more evident than I could ever have imagined, and I think there needs to be more of us, and we need to have more of a voice. I’m still looking for outlets to voice mine, without fully leaving the classroom. There are many endeavors that teachers take on that extend their days to way more than a 7–3, 8–4, or 9–5, but for me, it is the mentoring aspect that adds even a few more hours to that. There is this idea that I would often encounter when I read Dubois, Karenga or John Hope Franklin stressing the importance of education and how former slaves valued education. They, particularly Franklin, talk about how teachers of color impacted the lives of students because their passion was so much more evident and they had great expectations. I can see it all first hand now.

I know there are others like me out there who have to put on their cape every day, who must come in smiling every day, who students come to first and foremost about anything even to just be in the presence of. I believe that these people don’t necessarily have to be teachers, but we do need more high impact folks of color visible to the youth so they are looking beyond music and the TV screen.

I appreciate my students so much and the impact they’ve had on my life. I’ve yet to see the full impact that I’ve had on theirs, but I’d like for it to be more than marginal success, but a level of pride, and understanding that allows them to stand up to the world and face it with no fear.