#BlackGirlMagic Is Taking Over

As a mother of a young black girl and being an educator with intimate knowledge about the education system, my message to fellow educators regarding the importance of educating young black girls is simply to go above and beyond the expectations. – Dr. K 

Everyone is talking about Black Girl Magic! I had the honor of talking with a great colleague and fellow advocate, Dr. Katrina Mallory about the subject and the importance of empowering our young girls in a social climate that isn’t quite celebratory of women in leadership roles. She shares an inspirational message to educators below regarding the importance of encouraging young Black girls to go above and beyond expectations. We’re kicking off Black History Month by empowering our young girls!

Dear Fellow Educator,

Please SEE our young black girls for what they are… beautiful, gifted, and resilient leaders!  Remember that our young black girls need educators that are intentional and conscientious about their interactions with them.  Nurture, support and help them develop their talents.  Teach them and help awaken the greatness within them so they will know how powerful they are.

More than ever before, challenge them and help channel their abilities in productive ways so they may become agents of change, have a role in shaping their communities and make a difference.  Remind them that they are worthy, intelligent and capable of greatness (like all students)!

One thing that Dr. Mallory and I have in common is our passion for education. This time last year we were working with our colleague Steven Quinn of GeorgiaCAN. We developed and implemented advocacy strategies for policies supporting school choice. Another commonality is that we both support former First Lady, Michelle Obama’s Better Make Room Initiative. Check out Dr. K’s thoughts on the initiative, #BlackGirlMagic and character education below from our recent conversation.

ProfessorJBA: Dr, K, share with me your thoughts on Michelle Obama’s Better Make Room initiative and why should schools  connect this to their work in educating girls.

Dr. K: I’m a huge fan and advocate for Michelle Obama’s “Better Make Room” and “Reach Higher” initiatives because they inspire every student, especially first-generation and low-income students, to take charge of their future and complete an education past high school.  

School districts should consider connecting with these initiatives because they were designed to help every student navigate the college-going process, raise awareness about college access tools and resources, enhance student support systems by building the capacity of the school counseling profession, and reach students through social media platforms sharing their successes through the “UpNext” free college access tool and “College Signing Day” and “Beating The Odds Summit” events.

ProfessorJBA: Okay, let’s talk about it, the world trending hashtag,  #BlackGirlMagic !

Dr. K: “Black girl magic” is more than a hashtag; it’s a movement! It is seeing a representation of black girls and women on all social media platforms that unapologetically celebrate and affirm our beauty and intellectual prowess.  We’re great, can accomplish great things, and that’s important for all young girls of color to believe.  This phenomenon helps young girls of color, all races, ethnicities and backgrounds to connect with someone who “looks like them” and counterbalance the devastating effects of negative messages that bombard them in the home, school and media.   

My encouraging words to all young girls would be to “be yourself, know your self-worth, embrace the strength within, and know that your life has purpose. Most importantly, let the world know that, you are a trailblazer that will exceed and set new standards, not conform to the old ones.”  

For years, black women have been taking it upon themselves to impact their communities in the most direct way possible. The current activism and political landscape across the country has brought increased attention to the power of black women voters and the 2017 Atlanta and East Point mayoral elections of Keisha Lance Bottoms and Deana Holiday Ingraham were historic for black women.  These women are examples of a growing cohort of black women seeking to change the face of leadership in our country’s largest cities. Their victories and the votes that got them there send a resounding message that not only do they belong there but they are the people we want to lead our communities.

It’s inspiring to see my sorors of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. pave the way for future generations. The message for our young girls of color is that women of all backgrounds should have equal opportunities at elected leadership and that our country will benefit from having a government with varied experiences and perspectives. If these two women of color can do it, anyone should aspire to follow in their footsteps.

ProfessorJBA: Character education and civic engagement programs help children become engaged in the communities that help shape their experiences. Why is it important for schools to teach girls character education?

Dr. K: “…nothing is of more importance for the public weal, than to form and train up youth in wisdom and virtue,” by Benjamin Franklin. This is one of my favorite quotes because it clearly states how it is our responsibility to make sure our youth are trained and educated. For years, societies have recognized the need to educate our youth about character development and civic education.  As an educator, I’ve been advocating that character development and civic education programs are just as important as academics in our schools and it’s a shared responsibility of parents, teachers and members of the community. Our girls need this. It helps to empower more than simply educate. We cannot overlook the importance of character education in our school programs. Not just for girls, but for all students! 

In both public traditional and charter schools, character education programs must be approached comprehensively to include the emotional, intellectual and moral qualities of a person. The character education programs should provide multiple opportunities for students to learn about, discuss and enact positive social behaviors.

The civic engagement programs are also needed to develop responsible and competent citizens that are knowledgeable about the principles and practices of democracy, provide students with opportunities to apply formal civic learning in the classroom to community service projects, and equip the students with skills to participate responsibly as engaged members of their communities. Implementing these types of programs in our schools can lead to increased civic knowledge and engagement of students that are both academically proficient and civically engaged.

About Dr. Katrina Mallory – “Proactive Leader and Problem Solver”

Over twenty-five years of experience in senior and executive management positions at public and higher education proprietary institutions. Expertise in building, revitalizing and optimizing a company’s organizational infrastructure, processes, measurement systems and marketing strategies to optimize results.

WHAT DO YOU THINK?

Jason has worked in education for over 15 years as a teacher, blogger and community advocate. He speaks and writes primarily about the need to improve education for Black boys, particularly increasing the number of Black male educators in schools. In addition to blogging here at EdLanta, Jason is also a featured writer at Education Post.

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