Rather than celebrate the month that has been allotted, I celebrate African American History every day. February is just another month for me to continue doing what I always do, embrace the energy of our ancestors, with the hopes of one day making them proud.
If you are celebrating African American History, do it in a culturally responsive manner. As you embrace the present, do not ever forget what it took for us to get to this point. Do not forget about the trauma that may still exist. This trauma should never be undervalued.
As a former classroom teacher, one can empathize with the struggles experienced by K-12 teachers. There are tons of extraneous factors that play into how successful one may be in the classroom. These factors are heightened when teachers are placed in Urban school districts, forced to deal with students that have been inherently disenfranchised, and suffer from systemic trauma. Some of the trauma associated with our students dates back to over 400 years to slavery.
Notwithstanding, there will be people that will be unapologetically against the notion that slavery plays a part in common-day trauma. It is to those people one asks, where you forced out of your country, shipped to a foreign land and made to work for free? Were books designed to lead you to salvation galvanized to trick you into thinking what occurred during slavery was your destiny? Where you fed food high in sodium, which in turn made most of your race susceptible to cardiovascular disease? Were your women raped? Were your families separated? Were there times you’d rather die than to be living in your current circumstance?
If the answer to these questions is no, I’d highly suggest you take a seat.
If the answer to your question is no, but you’d like to learn more about how to best help my students that carry this hurt and pain, pay close attention, because it’s a mindset.
Here are some ways to better engage African American parents in February and beyond:
1. Black folks don’t want your handouts. We just want to be recognized as 5/5ths a person. That’s right, a Whole person.
2. We don’t want you to feel sorry for us, we want you to teach us. I don’t know a more straightforward way to put this.
3. Treat us like you are preparing us for college, and not prison.
4. Engage with parents like they are allies and not enemies. PoC want what’s best for their children.
This post was written by Ray Ankrum and originally ran on his ‘Everybody Luvs Raymond Education Blog.’