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Monday, January 4, 2016

In this day and age teachers are trying any and everything to reach and teach this generation. I recently saw a video showcasing the self proclaimed #RCAStyle dancing of the students of The Ron Clark Academy, with their school's co-founder, Ron Clark, in tow. It was entertaining and a positive representation of what we hope our kids have to look forward to each and every day. But there was sooo much negativity in the comments. Like...
I, for one, have been guilty of taking issue with the "great white hope" narrative wherein an "angel" in the form of a Caucasian American swoops in to save "the poor little Black children" without whom they wouldn't know reading, writing, or arithmetic. So I understand how and why that can grind someone's gears. But I've also learned to do RESEARCH before jumping to outlandish conclusions so I did research on Ron Clark (the teacher in the video) and learned about his amazing academy, a private charter school in Atlanta that mimics Harry Potter (who wouldn't LOVE that), and I accepted the video at face value. Especially since they're doing this on a SUNDAY.

What do we make of this "great white hope" narrative though? Why is it so prominent in the media and seemingly in our communities? You see all of these celebrities adopting Black babies and movies like 'The Blind Side' and it makes you wonder "Has a Black person ever helped a less fortunate White person?" Or better still "Has a Black person ever helped another Black person?" I mean, why are we always being "saved" or perpetually painted the victim? I know this isn't true but it certainly feels like the media and the entertainment industry portrays us that way. So what can we do about it?
Personally, I've had this long standing dream to open up an academy, much like RCA, that focuses on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) but for K-12. That's how I want to reach our kids. I want to make both parents and students accountable for their education and ultimately their livelihoods. I especially want the academy to be a place where our kids are not only taught at a gifted level but where they are also taught by those who look like them as well (and no that does not mean that white people are banned from being either teachers or students. Relax, reverse racism crusaders. I'm just creating a safe space for us but everyone is welcome). We need more Black teachers.
Representation MATTERS. Monroe, a new addition to the site, recently posted in the "Monroe's Meetup" section how important teachers are in a child's life, especially early on [read: Monroe's Meetup: Why Teachers Matter]. It gives you hope, a sense of pride, and a positive image unlike that which is portrayed in the media. When I look at shows like 'Gossip Girl' and they're having "Ivy Day" where all of the Ivy Leagues come to recruit I want those opportunities to be given to us as well. Not just sporadically but so that it becomes the NORM. I worked diligently for the National Society of Black Engineers and our youth programs gave me such hope for us and the future. It boils down to opportunity. The only thing that separates POC from superior education is opportunity. I want to help bridge that gap.

Natasha Marie

Natasha Marie
Written by Natasha Marie

Don't misplace your hate, help your fave. Tweet shade-free opinions to @iamnatashamarie.