Diverse Teachers

Disclaimer: I want to start off by saying this article is not meant to offend anyone, it is just how I have been feeling lately and wanted to get some thoughts off my chest. I would also like to bring attention to this issue since it is not discussed very much.

 

Lately in my classes, race has become an ongoing and recurring topic. My two cultural studies classes, one being American Studies since 1877 and the other being Pop Culture, the two both have their fair share of history involved. Something I’ve noticed recently however, is my teachers will say things such as “and I can’t speak for them” or “I am a white person so I have never experienced racism first hand’’. While it is good to acknowledge that you can’t speak for a whole race, let alone one you are not apart of, it is also important to learn history from the ones who have lived it. For example, you wouldn’t want to learn how to snowboard from a swimmer, so why is a majority of black history taught from the white perspective?

I am not saying that white teachers aren’t certified to teach about civil rights. However, with more diverse teachers and higher education professionals, it could give students and staff an expanded perception of history.

Think about it, how many influential African American leaders do you know from your average U.S history class? Studies show that only 80% of America’s teachers are white (Good Education).

An experience I had just the other week made me so uncomfortable that I couldn’t even tell my professor. In my Pop Culture class, we watched a clip from ‘Birth of a Nation”. For those of you who might not know what “Birth of a Nation” is, it is a film that expressed white supremacist agendas during 1915 and reignited the KKK. The clip we watched depicted black individuals as barbaric and dumb. After watching the clip, my professor analyzed how blacks were portrayed in the movie, but kept it at just that. He did not state that this was a false portrayal of black people, he did not state why whites were fearful of blacks gaining power, he did not state that the KKK is still around today.

Now, in my life I have only ever had 1 black teacher and she made sure to shut down any room for potential prejudice or hate. Yet, all my white teachers have never done anything of that matter for the fear of obstructing someone’s freedom of speech.

Having diverse teachers will not only be good for people of color, but it will also open the minds of white people. By having an authoritative figure who doesn’t look like them, white youth would have an obligation to respect their teachers, or professors. By having diverse teachers white students will learn to have empathy for people of color. By having diverse teachers white people will see and understand that people of color are just as intelligent and just as capable as white teachers.

I have been conflicted with the idea of hate speech and freedom of speech. I have been conflicted with the confederate flag and neo-nazis, who are allowed to parade the streets spewing hate, while black men are killed while being pulled over. Nipsey Hussle is dead. A while ago, Sheila Abdus-Salaam, America’s first female muslim judge, was found in the Hudson River Police and no one talked about it. Police brutality is still an ongoing issue. DACA students are in constant worry. There are so many more important current events happening right now that are being ignored in the classrooms.

While there is a lot of hurt in my heart from many things, race in America is one of my biggest concerns. I fear that without learning history from different people, we are becoming more oblivious and close minded about America’s dark past.

They say we learn history, so we don’t repeat it, but if you only hear one side of the story for your whole life how would you know you’re not already repeating the other side?