Black male educators have some tactics to teach cops that would actually build positive relationships between cops and Black boys.
Building relationships with Black boys begins with how we engage with them.
This Isn’t the Movies
A family friend took a substitute job recently in Atlanta and said it reminded him of the movie, “Boyz n the Hood.” He actually stepped in to provide some tips to the cop and staff members on how they could turn the situation around without it resulting in the student having to be removed. The situation reached the principal who hired him as full school employee.
We have to be intentional about solving the problems Black boys face, not being the problem they face.
Make the Connection
Studies show that having a Black male educator can mean the difference between a Black male student graduating high school or dropping out of school.
This same connection that Black male educators have with our Black boys can be used by cops to better engage with youth in schools and communities.
Black male educators tend to see what has been classified as “bad” behavior and to turn the behavior around positively. Some of this ability is developed through good teacher training. But a lot of it we Black men do naturally because we have lived and walked in the same shoes our Black boys are wearing right now.
Two percent of teachers are Black men. That isn’t enough and we must continue to do more to welcome and support Black men into the profession.
You may have some Black men working with children in your school, as coaches or disciplinarians. But adding more Black male educators as teachers leading their own classrooms is what will actually help improve the culture and discipline in your school.
Mentoring and Coaching
Sensitivity and cultural training alone can’t teach cops how to authentically engage with Black boys in the same way Black male educators can. Fortunately, retired Black male educators have worked to help heal this dynamic in Atlanta by supporting outreach initiatives that benefit Black boys.
For years, the Atlanta Police Department (APD) has had a special unit called the Police Athletic League (PAL), which partners with local schools.
“We can do more than patrol kids in schools—and our more is through PAL!” says Officer Saunders at Anderson Park. Outreach programs like PAL allows cops to help support the academic needs of Black boys while socially engaging them.
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.