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At the Black of the Class: What I've Learned as a Racialized Educator

I went through the Ontario School system and I was born and raised in Canada (identifying as Nigerian-Canadian). It was not until teacher’s college at the University of Toronto (OISE) that I began to fully understand the ways in which Black males are marginalized in the education system. Our bodies objectified, are often sought after for sports teams and we are streamed into special education. My thesis entitled, At the Black of the Class: Examining the Marginalization of Students of African and Caribbean Descent in Public Schools for Resolutions delves deeper into these issues. Despite systemic barriers, we have agency within the Black community that can be powerfully activated through meaningful coalitions. I also theorized about various remedies to support this population such as community initiatives and Afrocentric education.

I envision the teaching profession in the future to be occupied by Black male teachers for the status quo to be disrupted and for real change to happen. It is a common occurrence to work at various schools and have students say, “you look like my dad.” It is vital that our schools represent the communities of the students that they house. Teaching is a rewarding profession and I encourage Black men to consider it whether it is in the capacity of being a principal, teacher, education assistant or school social worker. Sharing similar cultures, languages, expressions and experiences with students you teach is powerful and makes for a wholesome community classroom. At the end of the year school year or after the period of me teaching them has long passed, some students come to visit me, not with gifts or cards but to simply say Thank You. It is an indescribable feeling to know that quite possibly a lesson, your kind words, or perhaps your presence alone have made an impact on one student or many!

Seeing people from the BIPOC community (Black Men in particular) occupy professional roles and be present in spaces is a threat to stereotype threat itself and such occurrences interrogate internalized racism and give the field of education new meaning as well hope.

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“Intelligence plus character - that is the goal of true education.” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Kevin Ufoegbune


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