Black women have always played a role in inspiring Black boys. Unfortunately, after the recent election, historic tactics of systemic oppression from media celebrations of Black women has some Black males believing this is imposing on the intellectual growth of Black boys.
But not me. Being a long time advocate for Black boys in public schools, I never neglect the impact that social justice minded Black male teachers have on young Black girls. Black boys aren’t the only children in Black families that experience trauma, neglect, or abuse. Black girls who may have had a father in the home and now may not are impacted by their father’s absence as well.
Racism, sexism and classism all play a role in the Black males vs Black females narrative!
However, historically the voices of Black females have been suppressed and devalued after Black males. During Reconstruction, Black men were able to vote and hold high level/elite positions in society. This left many Black females in classrooms using what they studied and learned to empower the minds of Black children.
My mother was a major influence on my academic journey in school. She’s now a retired educator. I remember many female teachers, Black women, who inspired me to take leadership positions, do things out of the box, go down the paths less traveled because they knew my presence was needed in spaces that Black boys weren’t represented.
Black females play a role in ensuring Black boys have safe spaces in every area of education. This is vitally important to helping Black boys to be well rounded as many public schools heavily promote athletics for Black boys.
Black women still play a major role in the success of Black boys in public schools.
This doesn’t take away from the amazing work that Black males are doing day in and day out in public schools and our communities. Black women are pivotal in the success of our Black boys.
For example, many of our former reading teachers in Georgia were females. I taught ELA and my principal encouraged me to obtain a reading endorsement. She said Black boys struggling with reading need to see someone who they can connect with empowering them to read.
I learned effective ways to empower Black boys with literacy from longtime reading teachers, Black women! They had effective strategies and data that reflected Black boys improvement with literacy. One connector for Black children is that Black females are always there.
If Black children have a Black teacher, mostly like it will be a Black female not a Black male. Black females represent a constant for Black children. This is both revered and resented by Black boys.
During a recent small group, I learned that some of the boys carried resentment towards Black females because of their mothers. One student, Davonte (pseudonym), recalled how in elementary school he lived with his family and then suddenly his dad went away.
He remembers as young as 4th grader 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 mothers, 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, but Black women in classrooms help change the narrative.
Many of them reinforce the positive aspects of the Black female in the home that they love, whether this is mom, aunt, grandma, or big sister.
Black boys have to be supported socially and emotionally, Black women have been filling in this gap.
Recently on our EdLanta State of the Black Family Town Hall, Counselor Ken Kemp discussed how there are 2% of Black males in education and even within that number an even lower percentage Black male counselors. Black females in the field stated that their work with Black boys is effective and that they are top advocates for Black men to enter the field to support Black boys success.
As the days continue to pass, we must continue to advocate for the intellectual growth and success for Black boys and girls. Black American deserve to be celebrated, regardless of their gender, religions, class, sexuality or any other areas that defines yet divides us.
Don’t believe the hype of the media! The successes of Black women inspires Black boys, 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.