I was recently substitute teaching at a large and diverse high school when three young men walked in to the room. Only one of them was on the roster, but they were all being respectful, if not a little playful and off task. I didn’t know what to do, however, because if that had happened a year ago I would have thought that I should call security and have the two boys removed. Not forcefully. Not calling them out as having been a problem. But I would have had them removed because they weren’t supposed to be in my class and they didn’t want to leave.
I made small talk with the boys and we joked around a bit.
However, it occurred to me that it was no longer okay to just call security on boys who are not in the right classroom to get them escorted to the right spot because these were three boys of color, and the social justice needs of communities of color are heightened at this time in our nation’s fraught history.
I’m meeting with the vice principal tomorrow to find out how to be culturally responsive in this setting. I asked the vice principal to coach me and he is a Black man. I would have just let it slide and not made a deal of it, but my pastor is a Black man and he said that there was nothing more racist and damaging than nice white women teachers with low expectations. I’ll write more about what he says later this week as I assume a lot of people are worrying about how to be appropriate with discipline and feedback in the wake of civil rights movements of 2020 and 2021.