Black Male Teachers

Black Male Teachers and the Shaming White Gaze

Although many people situated in the postmodern epoch posit that the election of President Obama signaled the transition of the nation to a “post-racial America,” the brutal legacies of White supremacy and Jim Crow persist across the nation.  In American K – higher education institutions, these legacies might be the most transparent and damaging.  Throughout the educational pipeline across the country, there exists a pervasive disregard for hiring a diverse faculty.  Although American schools are increasingly serving diverse student populations, many White administrators are not making a conscious effort to hire minority faculty to reflect this progressively burgeoning diversity.

Black male teachers are endangered species.  A dismal number of Black male teachers serve in K – higher education institutions.  The reality is the majority of Black male teacher candidates will have to be hired by White people, especially White men.  An extensive body of empirical and scholarly literature has documented the discrimination and racism minority applicants face during the hiring process.  More attention, however, needs to be devoted to the retention of Black male teachers.

Many White administrators employ a shaming gaze to attempt to intimidate Black male teachers and make them feel inferior.  Many White administrators and others will try to pretend that this gaze does not exist and will manufacture a baffled countenance about this gaze.  They will assert that one is making a desperate effort to use the “race card” in his favor to achieve his desired outcome(s).  Although many Whites suggest that the idea of a shaming white gaze, as is characterized in this piece, victimizes them by calling into question every motive they have for looking at a Black male, we need to look only to early American history and Jim Crow America to gain a deep understanding of how real, detrimental, and important the shaming White gaze is to Black people.

Black male teachers are not divorced from reality: most of their paychecks are signed by White male administrators.  When White administrators try to communicate shameful messages to Black male teachers through their mean-spirited gaze, Black male teachers realize their careers are not safe.  Many Black male teachers, therefore, begin to internalize racial self-loathing and self-hatred, considering they feel powerless against a power structure that does not favor them.  These Black male teachers become docile bodies easily exploited by many White administrators who love nothing more than to show them they determine how long they will be employed and the conditions of their employment.

For those Black male teachers who are unwilling to be docile bodies easily exploited by those White administrators wishing to unfairly treat them, they, unfortunately, become tangible causalities of the shaming gaze.  It is through Black male teachers who are unwilling to just be “good Negroes” that we have a chance to witness the brutal motives explicit in the shaming gaze.  The shaming White gaze articulates to Black male teachers that they are not wanted as educators and every effort will be made to see that they are terminated.

The shaming White gaze inevitably results in discriminatory actions.  In higher education institutions, many Black male teachers’ academic work gets unfairly critiqued and viewed with contempt, especially since many White administrators don’t understand it and don’t have a desire to invest time in attempting to understand it.  In K-12 institutions, the shaming White gaze results in Black male teachers being unfairly judged as grossly unprofessional and defiant.

Many White administrators are going to have to learn that having a diverse faculty is not about “being politically correct”—having a diverse faculty ameliorates academic achievement.  When students are able to benefit from a diverse faculty, they are able to learn from the sundry talents, experiences, backgrounds, teaching styles, and etc. a diverse faculty offers.

At the local level, we have to place more pressure on local leadership to hire more Black male teachers and to create a more diverse faculty in general.  As you advocate for the hiring of more Black male teachers, make sure you include support for the retention of extant Black male teachers.  We must demand our local leaders to support the hiring, promoting, and retention of Black male teachers.

Black male teachers are endangered species.  Let’s fight against this national crisis that must be fought first at the local level!  Here is evidence that when we fight against efforts to not hire, support, and retain Black male teachers at the local level, we will be successful:

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

The Revolutionary Paideia November 2011 Person of the Month: Melvin Parker, III

Each month, Revolutionary Paideia selects an individual who embodies the “unsettling, unnerving, and unhousing” spirit that founded this site.  In order to be selected to be a Person of the Month or Person of the Year by Revolutionary Paideia, an individual, widely known or little known, has to have and/or is making a significant contribution to humankind.  Although Revolutionary Paideia has selected well-known individuals for the Person of the Month and Person of the Year, a solemn commitment is made to honoring people who do extraordinary things but receive little to no acclaim.  The person who has been selected for the Revolutionary Paideia November 2011 Person of the Month is Melvin Parker, III.

Melvin Parker, III is a Georgia educator and counselor who works at Alcovy High School in Covington, Georgia.  Melvin has been an educator and counselor for over five years at Alcovy High School.  Mr. Parker has a serious interest in ameliorating the educational experiences and outcomes of all students, especially disadvantaged Black male students.  Extensive empirical research has evinced that Black male students at all levels of the educational pipeline academically underperform all of their peers.

From Mr. Parker’s interactions with students considered “at-risk,” and who were constantly being referred to him by administrators to develop plan of actions because of disciplinary problems, he developed an idea to construct The Distinguished Gentlemen’s Club at Alcovy High School.  The Distinguished Gentlemen’s Club is an organization focused on improving the behavior, academic achievement, social skills, life skills, professionalism, and potential for career success of “at-risk” male students at Alcovy High School.  Many Black male students are a part of The Distinguished Gentlemen’s Club.  The Distinguished Gentlemen’s Club is in its second year of existence.  This organization is an important intervention in helping at-risk male students move from a path that can lead them into serious trouble to a pipeline of career success.  Melvin is excited about the early success of the organization and looks forward to the future growth of the organization.  He has thoroughly enjoyed making a notable difference in the lives of the students he leads in this organization.

Through The Distinguished Gentlemen’s Club, Mr. Parker is able to afford these young Black males an opportunity to listen to various motivational speakers, participate in sundry educational projects, go on engaging field trips, receive individual and group assistance with academic work, and much more.  On Wednesdays, students who are members of The Distinguished Gentlemen’s Club have to wear dress shirts, dress pants, and ties to school for the entire school day.  This is vital in their understanding of professionalism and in their efforts to enter the workforce or college prepared to be young professionals.

Mr. Parker’s true commitment to improving the educational experiences and outcomes of Black male students throughout the educational pipeline is also reflected in his doctoral work at Northcentral University.  Melvin is a doctoral student in Northcentral University’s doctoral degree program in Exceptional Children (Special Education).  The focus of Mr. Parker’s doctoral dissertation is to find ways to better identify and serve Black male college student-athletes who have learning disabilities.  Melvin has exposed a significant gap in the published research with his work in this area of research.  His research will prove to enhance the educational experiences and outcomes of Black male college student-athletes.  At Alcovy High School, he serves as Assistant Head Track & Field Coach.  His coaching experience is, of course, giving him valuable insights for his doctoral dissertation work.

Melvin earned his master’s degree from Troy University in Post-Secondary Education with a concentration in Psychology.  He graduated with honors from Troy University with an undergraduate degree in Psychology.  Mr. Parker volunteers actively for various charitable organizations and causes.

It is with great pleasure to name a deserving man like Melvin Parker, III as The Revolutionary Paideia November 2011 Person of the Month.  Melvin, continue to do the awesome work you’re doing, and Revolutionary Paideia wants you to know that the things you’re doing are not going unnoticed. Congratulations, Melvin Parker, III!

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

The Revolutionary Paideia April 2011 Person of the Month: Stephen C. Newbold, Jr.

Each month, one person is honored here at Revolutionary Paideia who embodies the “unsettling, unnerving, and unhousing” spirit that founded this site. The person is bestowed the award of “The Revolutionary Paideia Person of the Month.” To receive this award, you must make a significant difference in people’s lives. You must be a person who matters and who’s unafraid to simply be yourself. Stephen C. Newbold, Jr. has been selected as The Revolutionary Paideia April 2011 Person of the Month.

At Revolutionary Paideia, it’s argued that people who are making a difference are not always the people we see and hear about in national media. Stephen C. Newbold, Jr. is one of those individuals making a significant difference in the lives of children, but his great work goes without a moment of national notoriety. Mr. Newbold is not looking for notoriety either. He has a deep passion for education, children, and the arts that goes beyond any vain longings for national attention.

While Stephen C. Newbold, Jr. knew that he would be featured on Revolutionary Paideia, he did not know that he would be named Person of the Month. I normally don’t contact the people who are going to be named Person of the Month, but I wanted to do things a little different this month by interviewing the awardee. I’ve had the great fortune to follow Stephen’s work for several years now, and I’m fascinated by the quality and imaginative artwork he produces, his passion for teaching, and love of children, especially his love of disadvantaged children. I was tremendously proud to see that a couple of Mr. Newbold’s students recently came in first place for a digital photography contest. You could see how his creative influence and zeal for the arts resonated and shined through the vivid, beautiful, and well-executed images they captured. The images captured tell stories of their own.

Let’s get to know Stephen C. Newbold, Jr. a little better through the interview I had with him:

1. Where did you receive your undergraduate degrees and in what degree programs?

I received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science in 2005 from Florida International University. I also resumed my studies and completed a second Bachelor of Arts in the History and Criticism of Art at The Florida State University, which is the school I started my undergraduate career in 2001 and later transferred.

2. In what city do you teach and what grade level(s)?

I current teach Integrated Art to Pre-K – 6th grade students in Prince George’s County, Maryland, which is located in the DC Metropolitan area.

 3. Why did you decide to pursue a career in Education?

After completing undergrad in 2006, I was faced with the decision of extending my education or entering the workforce in order to support myself.

 4. What are your greatest challenges as an educator?

As an educator in the inner city for at-risk youth, it is challenging to service them when they are coming from a bad home situation. These children have a hard time understanding why math, science, history, let alone—art—is important when they didn’t eat dinner last night or there is no electricity in their homes. Another challenge is my age. I started teaching high school students at the age of 24. Some of the students assumed that I wasn’t an authority figure until I opened my mouth.

5. What are some of your successes as an educator?

In my first year of teaching, I had minimal skills as an educator. I was essentially learning from experience. My majors in Political Science and Art History made me “highly qualified” to teach social sciences grades 6th – 12th.  As I worked with the students, I was being educated in the field as a teacher while simultaneously being a student. In less than one school year, I received my Florida Professional Teaching certificate, which was a huge accomplishment for me. Four years later, I was certified to teach Pre-K – 12th grade students in two states. My prized accomplishment originated in my first year of teaching at Miami Northwestern Senior High School, the school in which I attended.

Teaching American History to juniors was sometimes a challenge, especially when these kids didn’t turn in their homework. My students were assigned a midterm history assignment. The project was due in sections; this particular day, section one was due. Needless to say, not even one student had his or her assignment. In complete awe and disappointment, I decided enough was enough; I was taking control of this situation. I asked everyone to stand up; reluctant and a little nervous they all stood up. GET OUT! Everyone get out of my classroom. You didn’t come here to learn and you won’t waste another minute of my time, get out. I had them lined up along the lockers outside of my classroom. I explained that there is no need for us to sit in a classroom if they were not here to learn.

My Principal happened to be passing by, well I doubt it was a coincidence because a surveillance camera was pointed right towards us. He gave me a look of approval, as if he was saying carry-on. I smiled on the inside; however, I was still disappointed in my kids. We stood in the hall for nearly the entire block when my students apologized and said they were ready to work.

After 4 years of teaching, I think back to that moment and realized that was the day I evolved into an educator and not just some teacher. I was able to allow my students to rise up to my expectations and surpass them.

 6. Why is Art education important?

Art education is extremely important on the elementary level because it gives a child an opportunity to explore and problem solve. Early childhood instructors teach students to color inside the lines and to keep their area neat and clean. I, on the other hand, encourage my students to color outside of the lines and, more importantly, to create their own lines. Rules, regulations and test scores create a non-expressive environment that the arts allow a healthy escape from.

 7. What community/volunteer service projects have you been involved in?

I work for the K.I.D.S. After School Program, Living Classrooms of the National Capital Region in partnership with Center City Consortium, and 21st Century Community Learning Centers and DC Public Schools, an exciting after school program in Ward 7 at The Ft. Dupont Ice Arena. I teach photography to at-risk youth in South East. I give them the opportunity to view the world through a view finder and aperture. Each day includes a healthy snack, recreation time, homework and tutoring assistance, and a one-hour thematic component designed to address the Center City Consortium power standards as well as the DC Public School benchmarks. Students continue to explore subject matter and topics covered in the regular school day through hands-on exploratory methods.

8. Do you plan to return to graduate or professional school in the future? If so, do you have any specific degree programs in mind? Any specific schools in mind?

I have been looking into some master’s degree programs in the DC Metropolitan area, but my ultimate goal is to attend law school. It seems like I’ve been putting it off because Education is my calling but it’s amazing how a person, an educator, trains children and young adults to realize their potential. However, what would become of me if I didn’t realize my own?

9. Who have been the most influential individuals in your life?

There have been many people to come in and out of my life over time. The nuggets of influence retained range from a look of admiration, a laugh from a joke I made or even rejection and disappointment. All of these lessons gave me the drive to keep moving forward. My college Spanish professor once said to me, “If you have a problem that you can solve….why worry and if you have a problem you can’t solve……why worry?” So simple, yet profound.  I’ve been moving through this life solving what I can and accepting things out of my control.

10. Is there anything that you would like to add that the aforementioned queries have not allowed you to say?

In collaboration with my students, I created an anti-bullying video and a life-size book cover illustration this school year. I have a photography and graphic arts business called NEW-Bold Imaging. My class motto is “Art is a process”—similar to my life: We have to work through our mistakes until they are transformed into masterpieces.

I would like to thank Stephen C. Newbold, Jr. for taking time out of his busy schedule to engage in an interview with me. As you can see, Mr. Newbold has his hands literally and metaphorically full, so I’m truly grateful for the time he gave to me for this interview. I would like to applaud Stephen for his great work and for helping to make a tremendous difference in the lives of disadvantaged students. You are truly a great man! I’m such a fan of your work. You inspire me to do better in all that I do.

It is with great pleasure that I name Stephen C. Newbold, Jr. The Revolutionary Paideia April 2011 Person of the Month. Keep up the very fine work!

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison