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American Educators Balance on a Racial Peripheral


Teachers of color enhance the academic performance of students of color, including reading and math, as well as improve graduation rates according to the Annenberg Institute at Brown University (December 20). Amber M. Northern, Ph.D. furthers the conversation by supporting that teachers of color can improve outcomes for all races (March 2022). Accordingly, educators are in the throes of an unbalanced, often frustrating quagmire, with contradictory constructs and racially motivated political agendas.

Brown v. The Board of Education

In theory, Brown v. The Board of Education supplied the framework for educators to begin a process of enforcing equal education. The ruling was to eliminate the racial barbed peripheral that encased the “separate but equal” doctrine. To this end, the ruling began the process of bringing racial justice to public education in the United States. (Meador) “The ruling set the foundation for the civil rights movement and gave African Americans hope that “separate, but equal” on all fronts would be changed. Unfortunately, however, desegregation was not that easy and is a project that has not been finished, even today.” Federal policy recognized that Brown v. The Board of Education was not the cure-all, so Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty was designed in 1964; denying federal funds to schools with racial discrimination practices, a Nation at Risk (1981), and No Child Left Behind (2001) followed suit

Most community members advocate for equity in education, but they disagree on how to achieve it. Funding, resources, and academic expectations and outcomes all affect equity. Ideas

Educators’ Resolve

Educators are and have been, on the frontline of America’s ever-changing educational objective. Jeanne Croteau ( outlines ten ways teachers can fight racism in the classroom. DA Scarpino says that “Intolerance of any type, racial or otherwise, can lead to potentially criminal consequences. We believe it’s important for educators….to get the training they need to be leaders in racial awareness and education” “Defying a ban on teaching slaves to read and write, Baltimore slaveholder Hugh Auld’s wife Sophia, taught Frederick Douglass the alphabet when he was around twelve. When Auld forbade his wife to offer more lessons, Douglass continued to learn from white children and others in the neighborhood” In theory, one can surmise that Sophia Auld was among America's trail-blazing educators. The racial divide, during Sophia’s lifetime, can unequivocally be juxtaposed against the present-day digital divide: Both are racially motivated, both with similar outcomes. It appears there is a spectrum of deliberate resistance in America’s educational structure, and one can trace the evolution of racism from the printed word to the age of technology.

A vast number of children in inner city schools are loaned laptops and must return them at the end of the school year; wealthier districts can distribute funds elsewhere because the homeowners in said districts can supply year-round technology for their children. Christina T Crockett reminds us that “.... many neighborhoods are manufactured and continue to be manufactured under a system that allows wealthy white people to take advantage of “neutral laws,” and manipulate the value of homes and apartments across the United States.” She continues by stating that redlining and blockbusting severely limit the options people of color have when trying to purchase a home. These processes have the effect of racializing poverty and creating an alliance between blackness and negative living conditions. “The consequential lower property taxes within these neighborhoods lead to less school funding, and fewer educational opportunities [and supplies].” National nonprofit releases 2021 teacher spending survey showing teachers spend on average $750 of their own money each year Northampton, MA | August 18, 2021.

Barutik Kafele tells teachers that they can play a critical role in Black students’ success. Black children still face issues and challenges, and in 2021 he advocated for teachers to have an “equity mindset”. Yet, educators are up against a historical mindset that has permeated our society. When teachers walk into a mostly African American schoolhouse today, one cannot help but notice the lack of technology. There is a jagged line that can be traced to the source of America’s deliberate resistance to equal education. The ramifications for teachers range from students with “learned helplessness” (Seligman, 1991) to low self-esteem, and lack of employment by the adults in the home. The problems confronting teachers with this underrepresented population are vast and complicated. The matter is entangled in social, economic, and cultural alienation (Gibbs & Huang, 2003), and these deprivations play out in subtle and pernicious ways in classrooms.

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In the United States today, educational opportunities are still not created equal. This problem, says Sara Ewell, teaching professor in Northeastern University’s Graduate School of Education, “is a reflection of a greater societal issue. Achieving social justice and equal opportunity in education are lofty-but-essential goals for educators in America, experts agree. To effect change, educators must fully understand the key issues and barriers in play and position themselves with the right network, skills, and education.” Brown v Board of Education compelled teachers to “…breathe a false sigh of relief” under the notion that children would now be getting a better education in an integrated classroom environment, But, “The best characterization of the teachers is that they were preparing students to compete in the desegregated world that [does] not yet exist.” Formally, racial segregation has been outlawed in schools yet there are still very few schools that represent anything close to true integration opportunities (Christina T Crockett).

Educators are the forgotten pawns in a political game of chess wherein they are not allowed to complete the game. They are moved around based on politics; whether it is redistricting to integrate schools, or reassignment to segregate schools. They show up despite the racial divide, the digital divide, or the economic divide. They are the mortar that holds the system in place even when the system is undergoing extreme overhauls. They hold down the fort to further the pseudo-racial equality agenda that is America’s educational arrangement. We are pending our hopes on a system, that we trust just might eventually provide the infrastructure needed to educate the masses for an equitable society.

Works Cited

Gibbs, J.T., & Huang, L.N. (2003). (Eds.). Children of color: Psychological interventions and Culturally Diverse Youth. 2nd Edition. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Kafele, Baruti, T. (2021). The Equity & Social Justice Education. Alexandria, Virginia: ASCD.

Seligman, M.E.P. (1991). Helplessness: On Depression, Development, and Death. Second edition. New York: W.H. Freeman.

Meador, Derrick. (2021, January 7). How Brown v. Board of Education Changed Public Education for the Better. Retrieved from


© 2022 Linda Joy Johnson

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