Been Busy Finding My Voice for Social Justice and Equity in Education

I’ve been absent from writing but not absent from studying teaching, educating teachers, and teaching. In fact, my social media silence has rendered me more present as an educational advocate. This morning I ran across this video, and it spoke to my very soul! Chadwick Boseman is speaking about Howard University, but more so he is defining the role that the Historically Black College and University (HBCU) has played in educating and creating the soldiers of social justice that exist throughout the world.

Chadwick Boseman Gave An Empowering Speech To Howard University Graduates

When the Black Panther speaks, you listen.

Posted by A Plus on Monday, May 14, 2018

Additionally, I happen to be reading Lisa Delpit’s book “Multiplication is for White People: Raising Expectations for Other People’s Children”  in which she speaks of a “communal” type of education. She identified that education during segregation for African-Americans fostered a collective “identity of achievement” (pg. 42). These educators created these intentional communities of learning, beyond the text, for students under their tutelage. These black-run institutions drilled students in the “intentional community” (pg. 42)  of achievement. Clarifying the need for the crossing of T’s and the dotting of I’s, the need to be twice and good, and reminding students that the ancestors sacrificed too much for them to do less than their best.

This is partly the (subliminal) reason the HBCU graduate states, “If you didn’t attend an HBCU I can’t help you to understand my love for… NCA&TSU, HOWARD, MORGAN, etc”, as the list can go on and on.

Educational achievement for the HBCU student was not just about the JOB you sought to attain but centered around our community, our pride…something greater than that of SELF. This communal “identity of achievement” is what’s absent from the urban centers of schooling today but remains at the core of the HBCU existence.

Thus, as we continue to focus on THE TEST to promote the meritocratic agenda of our current educational system, we are losing generations of brilliance in our children because we as educators deny the calling on our lives to develop our critical consciousness around student identity. Now, I expect to receive return comments from many regarding the politics, the system, etc…  To those unwritten comments, I ask- what politics, what system could have been worse than slavery or segregation and yet still produced black doctors, lawyers, scientists, educators? Instead, I encourage you to read Dr. James D. Anderson’s  Eleventh Annual Brown Lecture in Education Research A Long Shadow: The American Pursuit of Political Justice and Education Equality to learn of the disenfranchisement of education for the Negro.

Please do not misrepresent or misunderstand my sentiments. While I am writing from my positionality and subjectivity, Chadwick’s address reminds me that the “American Institution of Education” and ALL educators have the responsibility of exposing students to their intellectual legacy to help them clarify their position in society (Delpit, 2012, pg. 43).

Thus, as an educator and teacher educator, I own my voice and will not remain silent as a teacher for social justice and equity in my daily walk. I’m back. Wakanda Forever!