Teacher stories. Most of mine are inspiring, but some are cringe worthy. If your child has a teacher of color, especially a person of African decent, please think before you speak. Avoid these harmful, stereotypical questions or statements. These are real – from the mouths of parents…
1) At Open House: Don’t ask, “What are your qualifications?” I have received this question more than once and it’s very hurtful. If you’d like to know more about your child’s teacher, contact your district’s human resources department.
2) Black teachers do exist! I overheard two mothers chatting at soccer. They didn’t know I was there. One whispered, “OMG, our daughter has ‘the black teacher’.” If you are nervous about this, set up a time to chat before school starts.
3) “How do you wash your hair?” Humans have hair. We use the same products. Enough said.
4) I dated a “black girl/black guy” once. Please don’t confess your relationships or relations with a specific cultural group to your child’s teacher.
5) Do you speak African? African is not a language. The continent of Africa has over 5,000 dialects spoken daily and African is not one of them. If your teacher has a native dialect other than English they will let you know.
6) You must be happy to be free in America. This statement is especially harmful. Many African immigrants fled their homelands due to conflict and are still traumatized by the circumstances. Think of your ancestors and how they arrived here. Some of us still have family back home and feel the loss of our loved ones greatly.
7) What should we call you? It’s easy. (Insert Prefix here: Mr., Ms., Mrs.______). We deserve to be acknowledged and recognized with respect alongside our white colleagues.
Have your reactions to your child’s African teacher been positive?