White women teaching black boys: The uncomfortable and necessary conversation

Baltimore, Md. (WMAR) -

White women teaching black boys, that was the topic of a forum at Friends School of Baltimore Monday night.

The goal was to bring a room full of people out of their comfort zones and ask how teachers from much different backgrounds than their students can connect with them.

The discussion was sparked by a book called “The Guide for White Women Who Teach Black Boys”, Edited by Eddie Moore, Ali Michael, and Marguerite W. Penick-Parks.

The editors of the book introduced the book and the ideas brought up in it.

The main focus of the discussion, the fact that 65-percent of the teaching force in America are white women.

Matt Micciche, the Head of School at Friends School of Baltimore, brought the group in to open peoples eyes to see that a divide does exist and they need to do everything they can to bridge it.

"The most powerful piece for me was when he spoke about the experience of a mother of an African American boy shared with him that he went to school whole and came home in pieces and that her job was then putting him back together and sending him out the door," Micciche said.

Micciche said minority students make up 30 percent of the population at the school.

Victoria Lebron, a white female 5th grade teacher at the school, said relating to a young black student when she first started really helped her grow as an educator.

“I had an expectation and I went from there and now I've learned and I have to constantly check myself,” said Lebron. “I think Eddie Moore Jrs statement at the end where he said it's about action, if you're not acting then you're not doing.”

Jennifer Monroe, the mother of a black male student, commended the school for hosting the event and for the amount of people that came out.

“Having certain programs cored towards our lack initiatives and cultures and experiences would better help our communities collectively," said Monroe.

Kea Smith, who teaches African American future educators at Morgan State University, said working with people who have knowledge that you don't  can really help.

"It's about your teaching style, your instruction,” said Smith.  “Even if you identify with your students culturally and you come from the same background you still have to evaluate and say am I presenting them the way that they are learning. Discomfort is good because that leads to change."

Moore ended the night with a hidden message in the form of a slide showing several black and white photos of male African American role models.

His point was that they all learned to be great men at segregated black schools, with black teachers.

Saying that segregation still exists (pointing to all girl or all boy schools) and that it should be an option for parents of black children.

He then challenged the white female teachers to prove him wrong and to show that they can reach the students.

For more on the opinions and research from the book and the presenters click here.


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