How black and white urban school teachers view African American males
Stanford, Michael E.
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One of the salient issues in any discussion about inner-city schools is the urban schoolteacher. Much of what has been written about these teachers, particularly White teachers, has been critical, asserting that they are a substantive factor in the continuing failure of education in inner-city schools and of African American male students in particularly (Haymes, 1995; Carter & Goodwin, 1994). In a six month ethnographical study at an Elementary and High School in the Northeastern part of the United States, participant observations, field notes and personal (one-on one) interviews were conducted on sixteen Black and White teachers and four school administrators, to address several research questions namely: (1) Do Black and White urban school teachers view African American males differently? If so, how? (2) How do urban school teachers construct their views of the behaviors and academic abilities of African American males? (3) What are the influences that shape these views? Findings indicated that African American teachers strongly identified with teaching and were culturally invested in the lives of their African American male students. They were committed to instilling the value of education and saw themselves as a part of the community in which they taught. White teachers' views of African American male students were a combination of various individual approaches and orientations that help to shape and inform their individual practice. Some of the White teachers adopted a color blind perspective. According to some scholars, a "color blind perspective" is potentially problematic. They argue that colorblindness maintains White privilege by negating racial inequality. Embracing a post-race, colorblind perspective allows White teachers to imagine that being white or black or brown has no bearing on an individual's or group's place in the racial hierarchy. Their views of their relationships appeared to be largely affected by how well they related and were able to culturally connect or identify with African American male students. Finding also revealed that both schools practiced very strict discipline policies to control the behaviors of its students and detention was often used as a mechanism of social control for African American male students.