The lighter side of teaching

“Looks like the National [White] Teacher of the Year awards are back in full effect. I figured (and may have even predicted!) in 2016 when three of the four finalists were teachers of color that pendulum would swing back quickly. ::heavy sigh::” 

Melinda Anderson

I came back with something flippant, along the lines of

“What will it take to make you people happy?”

It was meant as sarcasm, but I soon deleted it, because, well, I feared it might be misunderstood. Or maybe I feared it would be understood, a *wink wink* as an ally.

But here we are.

In 2016, three of the four finalists for the CCSSO Teacher of the Year Award were people of color.

Since then, all of the eight finalists have been white.

Of those, only two are even brown-eyed. (I’d be more specific, but I’m a tad color blind–in the physiological sense, not the I-am-better-than-you-as-a-non-racist *we* carry as our shield.)

This year’s finalists are all worthy. That is not the issue. That is not a defense.

TOTY Finalists, via Twitter (@ATLtrackclub)

And yes, the teaching profession has a remarkable lack of melanin and y chromosomes. (*We* pretend not to notice, unless you’re a black male teacher, in which case it is expected you will go save young black men.)

The finalists mean well, they do good work and work hard, and they fill the role of saviors that make for good stories. Still….

Listen up, *my* people.

Mandy Manning is the Washington State Teacher of the Year and one of this year’s finalists for the national award. She helps refugees adapt to life in the States, and talks about a boy from Tanzania who undergoes a remarkable transformation under her guidance. I have no doubt she is that good at what she does, and that she works hard at doing the right thing.

“District leaders, campus resource officers, community members of color, and professional writers have also visited my classroom. The visits help my students learn about school and city rules and laws, cultural expectations in terms of behavior and hygiene, our school system, and how to express themselves effectively.”  

On its face, that makes a nice soundbite, but it bothers me, because it’s what *we* do, what I have done, and what so many allies continue to do. That “community members of color” is separated from the others is telling.

What *we* teach becomes what we enforce:

So here we are. 

Our President of color replaced by a white man who supports white supremacy.

Our Teachers of the Year finalists are back to storybook savior roles.

We can all be colorblind again.

Why always a boy from Tanzania?
Do yourself a favor, and follow Melinda Anderson on Twitter.

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