Although Father’s Day has passed, the conversation about the importance of Black father’s involved in lives of their children is not. The bias treatment of Black boys in schools begins early. Parents play a big part in how Black boys are labeled simply through the identifying of if they live in a two parent household.
Discipline plays a key role in rearing children. Black males have traditionally been portrayed as being absent in the home which leads to Black boys having more discipline problems in school. Schools also have a low percentage of Black male teachers and the ones who do often use them as disciplinarians.
This previous school year I had a round table discussion with my 8th grade Black male students about respecting women. As one of the few Black male teachers at the school, I took time to understand the root of the problem regarding their behavior in classes led by female teachers. And yes, race does play a role, it always does.
But there’s a deeper reason to why Black boys act out in classrooms led by females.
During the round-table I learned that most of the boys carried a resentment towards females because of their mothers. One student, Davonte, recalled how in elementary school he lived with his family and then suddenly his dad went away. He remembers as young as 4th grade seeing the interaction between his parents. “The world didn’t have to tell me about the ugliness of my father; my mom did.” Black females who are single mother, step or co parents are demonized because they have to step in to hold Black boys accountable. I believe it’s unintentionally done because of the toxic expectations of masculinity.
Black females play a huge role in the way that Black boys engage with female teachers.
Black boys should respect females and any individual period. Pushing accountability without engagement leads to resentment. It is possible that some of this resentment is often times what triggers Black boys poor attitude and engagement with female teachers? In talking to Black boys, resentment is developed by what is taught. A part of the corrective action process that I have found successful is listening to Black boys and understanding the why they feel the way that they do. Then I provide strategies, solutions and sensible ways for them to produce positive outcomes.
We go wrong assuming that every Black boys we come across doesn’t have a Black male role-model.
Immediately when we look at Black boys, we automatically make the guess that the dad is not present. Assumptions we make about Black families, fathers, mothers and boys based off the stereotypes we so often see portrayed. These assumptions impact how female teachers engage Black boys.
Several of my Black male students say that their dads always get a bad rap. One student, Mason, is going on 15 years old heading to high school. He says that for years many of his teachers assumed his father wasn’t in his life. “Every year my mom goes in asking about mentoring, tutorial, coaches, etc., My teachers automatically assume my dad isn’t present stated Mason. Several other boys related to this saying that they Face-time their fathers daily and see them often. Black mothers who prevent their sons from seeing their fathers only increase resentment in them.
Black Boy’s Resentment For Female Teachers Stems From Home!
It’s hard for Black boys in 4th – 7th grade not being able to see or talk to their dad. “There were things I needed to learn from my dad entering middle school”, states one of my students in the round-table discussion. The relationships between mothers and fathers does impact children. Especially how mothers treat and speak of Black men around their sons. Add this on the videos of Black male shot in the streets, how society treats and views Black men, racism, sexism and the list goes on of things that tell Black boys, you’re not good enough.
It is also extremely hard for Black boys who were in two parent households that go to being in one parent households. The engagement between the parents does play a role on how Black sons view relationships with adults. Children spend most of their time in school where females still dominate the field. Female teachers often catch a lot of the resentment from Black boys in their classrooms because of the resentment from home.
Reversing resentment is a healing process that must take place within the home and school. School is a support system and safe haven for the student and family. Black boys don’t always feel safe at home. They also rarely have a safe space in schools due to a lack of Black male teachers or someone who can identify with them. Black boys have to be supported socially and emotionally at home too.
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.