This is for every teacher who refuses to be blamed for the failure of our society to erase poverty and inequality, and refuses to accept assessments, tests and evaluations imposed by those who have contempt for real teaching and learning.
What Makes Me Different: A Note from a Young Black Male School Teacher
Originally posted on his blog http://jordanliterature.wordpress.com/2014/12/29/what-makes-me-different-a-note-from-a-young-black-male-school-teacher/
He’s a thug, he’s a gangsta, he’s a bully! Often times, these are the labels placed on young black males who’ve been murdered by white men in law enforcement. A justification if you will. A justification for why another African American woman has to bury her son or her husband. Why she must spend the rest of her life grieving on his birthday, at Christmas, the day he was supposed to graduate or on the anniversary of his death. All because her son or significant other fit a stereotype associated with black males. Because he was wearing a hoodie (in the rain) or because he was allegedly committing a crime that should have resulted in a citation not an arrest. Maybe if they had shot up a movie theater, or blew up a building, they would’ve been apprehended instead of shot or strangled to death. So, what makes me different?
Well, now, in my seventh year of teaching, I’ve already been voted teacher of the year twice; back-to-back years I might add. I’m known for wearing a shirt and tie to work every day, sometimes suits. Maybe my success as a basketball coach separates me from other young black males. Winning 14 out of 16 games along with two championships in two years is pretty good wouldn’t you say? Not to mention, two state playoff appearances as a high school assistant in consecutive years was added to my resume shortly after.
At the age of 32, I have already published two books, made a guest appearance on nearly ten different radio networks, an international television segment, and have been featured in multiple news articles. There’s no way possible Mr. Jordan would ever be identified as a thug, gangsta, or bully…right?
The truth is, when I’m walking to my friend Luke’s house about 0.2 miles away, in my black hoodie, sweatpants, and tennis shoes I don’t look any different than Treyvon Martin. The city police or most residents don’t know me or know that I am a successful teacher, basketball coach, or published author. To some, I’m another young, suspicious looking black guy that’s up to no good.
If I travel on I-66 by myself, inside of the D.C. beltway during rush hour going with the traffic, I am breaking the law because that entire side is H.O.V. What should result in a ticket and a fine could cost me my life just like Eric Garner lost his after allegedly committing a crime that should have gotten him a citation.
Today, I fear for my life. I worry about my parents having to bury me because I look like a criminal. My bachelor’s and master’s degrees can’t save me from the hatred that lies in the hearts of some people. Those who still believe that blacks don’t deserve to be treated equally or should have rights will look at me and honestly think they are doing humanity a favor if they put an end to my life. Sadly, they’d get away with murdering a school teacher if they say, “he was reaching for something” or “it looked like he had a gun” or “I feared for my life because of his demonic presence.” So, what makes me different? Nothing at all.
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