I don’t see myself

Kei'yona Jordon, Copy Editor

School, for most children, regardless of their parents’ socioeconomic status, race, culture or religion, is their second home. School is the place they spend most of their childhood, and teachers are at the forefront of the ideas, beliefs and talents they come to possess. Teachers inspire students and bring them opportunity. Most importantly, they teach children about life after school.

In America, with the lack of diversity among teachers, certain groups of students are left behind and feel a sense of imprisonment from having teachers they can’t connect with. After going through more than 15 years of school, I can count on my fingers the number of Black teachers I’ve had, and that, to me, is something that needs to change. From kindergarten to my senior year of college, I’ve had only six African-American teachers out of the fifty or more who taught me in my educational journey. in my four years of college, I haven’t been granted the privilege of Black representation. While I had some amazing professors and teachers, I was robbed of the connection, inspiration and empowerment that I wished to experience as an African-American.

Many articles and statistics show that African-American students are more likely to excel in school if they have at least two African-American teachers. African-American teachers have a long history of advocating for their students. These teachers were behind many of the opportunities that African-American students receive. The lack of Black teachers in schools, ranging from elementary to universities and colleges, is a subtle way of discriminating against minority students. History, psychology and statistics point toward the positivity of Black students having  Black leaders, teachers and mentors they can learn from. So, depriving Black students of that is a means to control and hold them back.

An argument I’ve heard is that students have to learn to welcome diversity; however, that argument is flawed in that, in America, only minority students are forced to accept and navigate around diversity in the education system because more than 50 percent of teachers are white, which means white students can thrive in environments around people who look just like them. This is due to the role model effect, which states that people need and/or create relatable people to help them advance in their own career.

In my personal experiences, I felt a sense of confidence in myself when my teachers were Black that I didn’t feel in other classrooms. Some of those teachers did absolutely nothing objectionable, but the subconscious thought that they may believe I didn’t have a fighting chance caused me to doubt my own capabilities. Many Black students can attest to the exhaustion of having to put on a facade in an effort to prove to our teachers and professors that we are the exception to Black stereotypes. I am in no way saying that only Black teachers should teach Black students. I am saying that more Black teachers should be in a position to teach Black students.

This is not a problem that can afford to be left unsolved. To be left unsolved is simply deciding to purposefully hold back generations of Black children. I suggest that laws be put in place that require every school to hire Black teachers based off the student population. I think that closing the gap will help equalize opportunity across all communities.