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Black Male Educators Need A Space To Feel Vulnerable and Empowered (And Super Black). This Is It.

Less than two percent of our nation’s educators are Black males.

That includes teachers and counselors and deans and principals and paraprofessionals and special education interventionists and P.E. teachers and whatever other infinite titles that impact students in school buildings.

Two percent.

Two out of 100.

Literally millions of Americans have never had a Black male educator.

People hear this figure and think “Damn, that’s not good,” but often miss the story of isolation associated with it. They don’t think about the eight to twelve hours per day a Black male educator spends at work not interacting with someone of the same affinity or the increased probability of him getting schmacked in the forehead by a microaggression from a colleague or the soul-sucking disappointment felt when he realizes the non-existence of any mirrors or role models for the young Black boys in his school building.

It’s a stifling two percent that leads to detachment and ultimately withdrawal from the education field entirely.

But Black male educators are trying to remedy this issue.

This month, Profound Gentlemen hosted it’s second annual Community Impact Assembly in Charlotte, North Carolina. Over 100 Black male educators traveled from Atlanta, Chicago, Washington D.C., and Memphis, among other cities to discuss topics ranging from toxic masculinity in school buildings to creating a culture of reading for Black boys. Profound Gentlemen seeks to impact young boys of color through Black males. The organization also strives to develop the instructional practice of Black male teachers, ultimately giving them the skills and the network needed to have a successful career in education.

And the conference was about more than just getting a whole bunch of Black guys getting together in one room to talk about how we need to see more of us next year in an even bigger room, sharing teaching stories or debating the best barbers in our hometowns.

It’s a conference about influence and freedom and love for our community; It’s about encouragement and embrace and love for each other; It’s three days straight of #blackboyjoy.

The weekend aligns to PG’s core pillars of intentional character development, understanding purpose in being an educator, creating mentor groups to support boys of color, and engagement in the community. Intimate community dinners took place on opening night, after a day of school observations and round-table discussions with education leaders.

Black men spent the majority of the conference working and experiencing discomfort, while learning and unlearning side-by-side Black male students. Black boys had the opportunity to hear directly from Black men about how we plan to contribute to our communities and exemplify love towards each other.

We need more spaces like this where we serve as think tanks, and create solutions for our schools, while also creating an environment that offers encouragement and support.

I’m also down for more spaces that afford us the opportunity to be Super Black.

Shamar Knight Justice

Shamar graduated from North Carolina A&T in 2010 with a degree in Business Marketing. He taught secondary English for four years in Charlotte, before transitioning to Atlanta, Georgia, where he currently serves as the Partner Teacher Coordinator at KIPP WAYS Primary.