Celebrate Black History By Improving Workforce Development for Black Students!

Written by: Aisha Dukuly, EdLanta Student Coalition

Currently, the education system in America is failing Black children in many ways. Black students are being educated about future career options that train us to work like robots. We aren’t being taught how to be doctors, lawyers, engineers, etc. 

The narrative that they tell young Black boys and girls is that you can be in the NFL, NBA, or a rapper if you just work hard enough. This is very misleading for us.

Blacks students want to learn about and be trained in fields other than entertainment so that we can make money to live and not die from being unable to survive due to lack of training!

By the way, the chances of being a professional football player, basketball player, or rapper are literally one in a million quite honestly. The worst part about it is that adults push this narrative on us. 

Instead of teaching us to put on a show for white people and to help white NBA and NFL team owners and white music label executives become richer, we need to teach them to pursue careers that will build wealth for the black community. The first step is to teach them about all of these career options early as in elementary school. 

Exposure to different careers at an early age and continuously throughout grade school can drastically change a child’s perspective on what they can accomplish or what career they can pursue. I know because I speak from experience.

I have Sickle Cell Anemia, so I was exposed to the healthcare field at a young age; it intrigued me. I wanted to be a doctor from a young age. 

See EdLanta’s Call to Action for Heart Awareness Month

However, this all changed when I became a Student Athletic Trainer at my high school where I was introduced to and later fell in love with orthopedics and sports medicine. 

I realized I want to be an Orthopedic Surgeon, a field dominated by white men. Being in a field dominated by white men seemed intimidating, at first, because I presumed that I wouldn’t be respected or taken seriously by my male counterparts.

Luckily, I gained a mentor named Sheena Watkins, the lead ATC (Certified Athletic Trainer) at my high school. Sheena is also an African American woman who is very accomplished and successful in her career. Even in a field dominated by men, she never ceases to stand out and prove herself time and time again.

. . . and just for the record, Black students want quality mentors in all professional careers. Don’t limit us or give us what you think we need.

Sheena also comes from an adversity-filled background like myself and has overcome those obstacles in order to succeed, so to witness her success inspires me. 

Through Sheena, I was able to get into another medical program where I visited an operating room where orthopedic surgery is done and learned a lot about what tools they use. We need people like Sheena in our communities to practically mentor kids as she mentored me. 

Not every Black student has to be a doctor, lawyer or engineer. If they don’t want to; they can even go to a trade school if college isn’t for them.

But we do need to know that becoming a rapper or professional athlete isn’t our only way out of poverty nor is it the best way out of poverty. 

Georgia public school districts can improve post secondary education options for Black students by decreasing funding for SROs and using it for more counselors to help with workforce development (career training). 

See our Call to Action for more counselors in schools!


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