Around 1973, when my white adoptive parents attempted to adopt another black child so that I would not be the only one in the family, they were rejected. Between 1968 and 1972 approximately 50,000 black children were adopted by white families. In 1972 the National Association of Black Social Workers (NABSW) called transracial adoption “cultural genocide” because they believed that black children growing up in white homes would lose their racial and cultural identities. They argued that in order to fully develop a strong and positive racial and cultural identity, a child must be raised in a home with people who are of he same racial and cultural group. While I did often have to make a deliberate attempt to expose myself to Black culture, I developed a stronger sense of my identity as a Black woman than many of my friends who grew up in Black homes. This same argument has been made for education. White women make up the majority of teachers for black and brown children. Is it possible for white teachers to teach minoritized children using culturally relative teaching? Is it possible for white men to be effective mentors and role models for African American and Latino men who are considered “at risk”?
I did not have a single Black teacher from kindergarten through my senior year at high school. I do remember there were three Black teachers at my high school, but I was not enrolled in any of their classes. My first exposure to African American teachers was in college. It may be what compelled me to change my major to African American studies. I have never really reflected on why I did that; however, it would make sense that as a Black woman with no Black role models at home nor in my community, I would be inspired by learning about Black history from Black professors. In a sense, these professors became part of my village and helped to shape my Black identity development. However, the one professor who had (and still has) the most profound and lifelong effect on me happens to be a white woman. In my defense, she is more woke than anyone I know, so… it is interesting psychologically that the person I align myself with the most mirrors the community I grew up in and not my skin color. Would I have been more connected to one of my bl
My goal, as a teacher was to be the representative that I didn’t have for kiddos like me. I wanted to connect with kids of color who were living in predominantly White communities. That was where I related and where I knew I could make the most impact. So, what about white folk who teach in minoritized communities? Can they be effective? If their goal is to be effective teachers and proactively use proven culturally relative pedagogy, then they will be as effective as my parents were at raising me. There are parts of me that my White parents will never be able to understand and connect to, but they were successful at raising me to value kindness, diversity, education, and family. So, the question to ask is what is the role of the teacher? In my