Our black boys aren't being told, "You're a great leader, why don't you lead in a classroom?" El-Mekki said. He vowed to change that classroom dynamic so that these boys feel empowered to teach the generations that follow them.Other educators of color have followed El-Mekki’s example, starting outreach programs, blogs and support groups for teachers of color. Shamar Knight-Justice, an assistant principal in Atlanta, is a member of Profound Gentlemen, a growing national network that seeks to build relationships among male educators of color. Networks like this provide crucial resources to men of color who feel isolated in their schools. On a post on his blog, EdLANTA, Knight-Justice writes:
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 12 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 smacked 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.In groups like Profound Gentlemen, teachers trade notes on how to build character development plans for their students. They also support each other so that they remain in the profession. In the case of Profound Gentlemen, 95 percent of their members continued teaching in 2016. Schools in the District of Columbia have started what they call the “Leading Men Fellowship.” It’s a push to bring male teachers of color to early education classrooms. Besides increasing diversity, it has had an impact on students’ learning. It “tackled the literacy gap among low-income students.”
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