This week thousands of educators from across the country have gathered in Dallas for the Teacher Leadership Development (TLD) Summit. Among the many lively discussions include sessions dedicated to Culturally Responsive Teaching (CRT) and how it impacts our students. Please join @OneDayAllKids for a Twitter chat tonight, Wednesday, January 28, from 8:00 to 9:00 pm ET to learn more about CRT. Follow #CRTchat to join the conversation.
Last year, I asked an educator friend of mine how many Black men had been victims of interracial violence in recent years. He immediately rattled off a list of names: Ezell Ford, Eric Garner, Mike Brown, Amadou Diallo, Jonathan Ferrell, Kendrick McDade, Oscar Grant, Sean Bell, Kimani Gray, John Crawford, Trayvon Martin. In more recent months, a parent shared that when she had asked her son what excited him most about turning 16, his response was, “That I made it to the age of 16.”
Conversations like these have heightened my awareness about the lived experience of some Black men in America and have deepened my curiosity about the responsibility schools hold in service to Black male youth specifically and to youth of color in general. Gloria Ladson-Billings speaks of culturally relevant pedagogy encompassing three areas: academic success, cultural competence and critical consciousness and posed the question, “If school is about preparing students for active citizenship, what better citizenship tool than the ability to critically analyze the society?”
One way in which we can understand the relationship of critical consciousness and active citizenship would be to consider how Black males understand potential injustices in their own lives and in the lives of Black men collectively. To explore this theme, I conducted a survey with a group of African American men and African American male high school students. Based on responses to the following survey questions, I wanted to know to what degree is this sample of Black male high school students, all who are at least 18 and in the 12th grade, prepared for what it means to be an African American adult male who is an active citizen in this country?