“We are not a Marginalized Group in America,” An Open Letter from Black Boys

Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to open the doors of opportunity to all of God’s children. – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 

We are not a marginalized group in America.

We will no longer be marginalized in our schools or society.

Marginalized means to relegate to an unimportant or powerless position within a society or group. We are tired of hearing and seeing our parents protesting policies that marginalize Black boys in schools. Too often we are victimized and held captive there. We are not captives, we are Kings.

Daily we are treated less than, provided less than and look upon as less than even though every time we walk into the school, a classroom, the media center, we are defying the odds. We are marginalized by  you each day we walk into a classroom and have a seat. We are constantly targeted because of our behavior while overlooked for our gift and talents outside of sports.

It’s not true that we don’t like to read. We just get tired of reading about people who don’t look like us and how we always either are enslaved, incapable or have to be saved. I mean, it’s not necessarily Oprah’s book club we’re being offered either. In one class, my ELA teacher used comic books from back in the day, like literally the 70’s, yikes, to show us that Black men in comic books didn’t just start recently with Black Panther. I remember that lesson because it showed us that we are a part of mainstream society, even if we wear the mask.

“10 percent of eighth-grade Black boys in the U.S. are considered “proficient” in reading.”

I cringe every morning I hear my Nana say read that Bible. It’s not that I struggle with reading but even if you have a question about what something means, in my shoes that automatically means that you’re dumb. Then I get to school we constantly hear that “10 percent of eighth-grade Black boys in the U.S. are considered “proficient” in reading.” Our teachers think it’s important to ensure we know what we’re learning, why they have to do all this to teach us and how dumb we are. They tell us to read more but nobody is teaching reading. If our parents ask about support for reading they are constantly told that the books still haven’t come in yet or laptops for reading programs are being ordered. That was in 6th grade, I’m in high school now.  I just keep saying to myself, if Dr. King did it then I’m a King too and I can do it!  It would be good to hear it from someone who looks like me every now and then in school but I guess that would be a lot to ask on my prayer list. My every day journey in school shows how the disadvantages Black boys face in our schools aren’t corrected in the K-12 classrooms but furthered when people are intentionally about teaching us. 

“…learning disabilities aside, black students (and particularly boys) experience disconnection when it comes to the authority figures in their classrooms.”

We get one chance for a saving grace our in our schools. The school counselor, most who are Black now, helps us with college, careers, testing, community service, service learning projects and a whole list of things on top of  being the person responsible for actually listening to

black student learning

us. However, the Black counselors are overworked and don’t get the same resources that our white counselors did.  It’s vertically impossible for anyone to hear or listen to us because of always being pulled for something more important. So, for a kid like me, I have to figure it out on my own. Especially because everyone already thinks that I’m one foot out the door and one foot inside the cell. I hear the staff talking during study hall. They’ll say things like, “learning disabilities aside, black students (and particularly boys) experience disconnection when it comes to the authority figures in their classrooms. They are just disrespectful!”All of us have some learning disability that makes the administrator’s job sooooo hard because everyone complains about discipline. I don’t believe it’s that hard, they just don’t know how to reach us and don’t take the time to figure out the best ways to talk to us. School administrators are the 5.0 of the school. The over exert their power and don’t really reach us. After five suspensions from school, my friend told me that he believes school administrators make themselves feel like they’re making a difference to erase the fact that they marginalize the same kids that looks like them.

“As they get older, they are continually marginalized in their schools and societies – given less-than-adequate access to the resources that their already advantaged peers receive.”

One of the highlights of my day is visiting the Parent Liaison, Ms. Dennis. She always has something to eat for the parents so from time to time I go by the Parent Center to get an extra snack. I think she also has them out because she gets that some of us are too shy to say we are hungry. She actually takes the time to talk to us and get to know us. So my time in the Parent Center isn’t speak being spent on being a spectacle or stereotype like in the classroom. The Parent Center is the one place I can be affirmed, get my homework printed out and feel like an actual human being. One of the quotes on Ms. Dennis information board that she loves to read to us says, “As they get older, they are continually marginalized in their schools and societies – given less-than-adequate access to the resources that their already advantaged peers receive.” It’s true and she reminds us that the issues others have with us is historical, we change it but changing it within ourselves and communities. Our parents are always constantly having to ensure the school is doing the right thing for us. The school leaders always respond saying that it’s not enough resources, the money is funny and the change is strained. Ms. Dennis always says you can tell if someone cares about you by the way that they treat you. Well, if that’s the case, I feel like being a Black boy in school is like being Trump. Everyone hates you yet can’t get enough of the drama you bring.

If you didn’t know, Black boys are inappropriately marginalized in our schools through the school to prison pipeline so when teachers don’t want to teach us or work to understand our behaviors, which aren’t even like anything new, we get dropped.The failing special education programs and ridiculously long and bias standardized tests also weigh in on the achievement gap. We are marginalized by the increase in resource officers in schools as opposed to addressing the lack of school counselors, especially Black male counselors. Teachers and school leaders marginalize us daily by data that says we are less than, left behind and not worth it. Sometimes this happens even by the ones who look like we do. We may be the most marginalized group but we are breaking the things that confine us in America. Time is up! 

Signed,

 

Black boys in Schools Across America

 

 

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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