Within this moment, there are silos, small chatter of familiarity, and remarks echoing with inquiry about the author of the syllabus. Nonetheless, because the professor for this class, whose name lives with an identifiable sex, coupled with the distinction of a terminal degree, but without remnants of his racial profile, one of the classmates in a bold, yet calming and unobtrusive tone, asks “Does anyone know this professor? Anyone every have him before? Any information on him?” “No,” says another student, “but all I know is that, ‘this is my last class and I don’t have time to be playing around with anybody new.’”
Yes, a Black man, tall and erect in stature, voice of a baritone, eyes to ascertain that he’s early to mid-30s, coupled with an unapologetic presence that is more organic than practiced, is charged with improving a group of educators’ capacities, so that they are resourced with the skills and knowledge to advance our nation’s young minds.
Students’ faces, who are mostly White women teaching in urban academic environments, with a handful employed in more affluent public schools, are filled with gaze and confusion, about the sequence of events that just occurred from the beginning of class, until the introduction of their professor. To some, this may seem foreign, but to the professor, this is the norm.
Normal in a sense, that for starters, the number of Black men who make up the teaching force is minute. Recent studies have confirmed that 2% of today’s K-12 classroom teachers are Black males. Therefore, when considering the aforementioned reaction from students and statistics associated with number of Black male educators, having a Black professor, who is educated and teaching at the collegiate level is even more of an anomaly.
As opposed to only examining the obvious discrepancy, and frown upon the looks of uncertainty by those who are unaccustomed to seeing Black male educators, provides more than enough credence to why I teach.
Being a Black male educator is more than just a profession and teaching students content-based knowledge. My charge and belief, is that Black male educators have the opportunity to change society’s perception about Black men, period.
Having the great fortunate to educate high school level students, as well as grad and undergrads, I view my position as a platform for showing that there are educated Black males who are not succumbing to what society predicts for us. The task also includes curtailing the seemingly constant negative media attention Black men receive.
Throughout my career, I have heard and witnessed a number of students explain that there perception about Black men was derived from a third party source, which is maddening to say the least. Conversely, can you blame them, especially when one’s experience or understanding of a Black man is not organic?
Simply, having Black male educators provides all, an opportunity to view society through a multi-cultural lenses, where diversity is welcomed and sensitivity to cultures are practiced.
Hence, why I teach? I teach, because I am committed to my family, community, and for social justice.