1) This is a Black Space
This is a space where Black teachers can be our full, authentic selves. By authentic I mean multidimensional. Black Teacher Chronicles (BTC) celebrates Blackness by acknowledging the complexities and nuances of our experiences. By “Black,” I mean BTC is Pan African, but not “Blacker than thou”; however, we are Black and proud so a certain awareness/consciousness/wokeness is our norm. And by “teacher’, I mean the broadest sense of the term–counselors, mentors, administrators, professors, advisors–anyone who serves through the imparting of knowledge.
In this space, we don’t have to lower our voices or muffle our mannerisms or stifle our spirits to prove our professionalism. In this space we can talk without having to explain. There’s a collective schema around the pedagogy, the psychology, and the administrative bureaucracy that colors our every move. More important than that is the collective schema of Blackness–the power of it and its limitations; the various ways it threatens and is threatened; our fight to remain whole; and our fight to help our students do the same. Through this space we reaffirm our allegiance to Black students so we can push more and fight battles within the system that most will never see. We even fight our own people sometimes when they can’t see themselves.
And in this space we can admit that though we may share the same race as our students, our (mis)education has rendered us different. Certainly, commonalities exist but we must acknowledge the differences, embrace our full existences, even the classism, so that we can secure the change we so desperately seek. If you’re a non-Black tuning in, lucky you! You get a peek at our non-filtered splendor.
2) We Share Glory Stories
Here we assess and attest the assets of ourselves and of our students. These ain’t war stories, they’re glory stories. Our classrooms are not battlefields, but sanctuaries– places to lay burdens down, places to be built up, places where words can create the universe. We share our triumphs openly. We also vent and laugh about the challenges, but ultimately we feel blessed to share space with the genius that is our students. So what you will not find here is trauma porn, snuff films, nor accounts that expose our students’ bare pain merely to tickle and tantalize.
3) We Recognize That We Are Super Human, Not Super Hero
We are celebrating our own power while simultaneously purging our savior complexes. Here we dismantle the image of the superhero teacher. We’re not “saving” our students or helping them “make it out.” We’re helping them make it in: to seeing, exploring, and actualizing their best selves. We’re helping ourselves to do the same.
4) We Are Bridge Builders
Perhaps if White teachers can understand our perspectives they’ll be better equipped to understand and serve our children. Don’t mistake me, this space is for and created by Black educators (see the first point again), but we welcome all to have a view. This space is raw, audacious, unapologetic. Any White educators, who are brave enough or curious enough to truly consider the truths shared here, will be one step closer to better serving and teaching black students. And though it’s exhausting to have to fight the education system’s systematic oppression of both Black students and Black educators and then convince White folks that that oppression even exists, we would be remiss if we didn’t. Ultimately, most of our students are taught by White teachers and so we must teach those teachers, too. It is our hope to forge healthy conversation and collaboration while sharing thoughts, insights, and strategies on navigating and improving urban education.
5) We Need to Discuss How We Replenish the Ranks
We need more Black teachers. We leave the profession at higher rates and enter at lower rates. Only we know why. Perhaps it’s the deeper connection that we have to our students and the subsequent internalizing of all they experience. Maybe their pain and their struggles remind us of our own; all that’s inherited with this melanin despite whatever degrees, accolades, and credentials we amass. Then there’s the shame and helplessness we feel for being complicit in our students’ undoing, being a part of a system that seems hell bent on stripping away their Blackness. Where else can we discuss this in full? The first-hand accounts shared here let us all know that we’re not alone. Maybe that in itself will help more of us stay in the field. The collective wisdom and experience will give us more concrete strategies. And lastly, maybe Black students will read our accounts and be inspired to join the fold.
6) Our Approaches Are Research-Based
This space by nature is academic (though not cerebral). As we share our firsthand accounts, the research behind our decisions is organically infused. Hell, we can even do text reviews here. I’m down to post whatever you submit. As long as its dope and straightforward. Since we have a flair for showmanship even our journal reviews will entertain.
7) We Incorporate Faith.
Our own strength isn’t enough for what we are called to be. So as Black Teachers and Educators we praise and we pray, we thank and we ask, and we strive to walk worthy of our victory.