Black teachers, please don’t tear down your black students
Contrary to popular belief, words do hurt
I looked from my classmate Kellz* to my favorite teacher. I couldn’t believe she had just said that to him. Kellz had come to class and kept talking during the teacher’s instructions. “Disrupting the class” is how report cards would’ve described it. But he and my teacher Mrs. Fossil** struggled to have a peaceful relationship from the very beginning of our fifth-grade class.
Apparently he’d gotten on her nerves one too many times that day and she blurted out, “Shut up, you little ignorant boy. You’re not going to be anything when you grow up anyway.”
And I sat there absolutely startled by this statement. By the time I’d heard Jay Z’s “So Ambitious” lyrics in 2009, I could relate to them personally — from Kellz’s perspective.
I felt so inspired by what my teacher said,
Said I’d either be dead or be a reefer head,
Not sure if that’s how adults should speak to kids,
Especially when the only thing I did was speak in class,
I’ll teach his ass.
Kellz and I were friendly enough that we could have our own little chats during recess, but I wouldn’t go so far as to say we were friends. However, up until that point, I’d admired and almost depended on that teacher as guidance both educationally and personally.
Recommended Read: “White teachers, please stop judging your black students ~ The fine line between empathy, pity and casual racism in education”
I could’ve easily been like any other student in the room and not internalized that attack as something sent my way. After all, that verbal weaponry was aimed at one particular student. But I decided from that moment forward that the whole class was collateral damage from her friendly fire. Why? His wrongdoing wasn’t worth telling my peer that he would not be “anything” when he grows up, simply from talking now. And if she’d say that to him, it was only a matter of time before she’d say it to someone else in our class.