How can teachers minimize Black student stress related to racism in schools?

Racism in schools continues to plague our nation which is counterproductive to the health of Black students. Northwestern University researchers have reported that Black parents are the primary culprits for placing their children in such a detrimental position. The researchers have errored by placing blame on Black parents instead of realizing that there is a true vehicle that helps. Teachers are the fundamental force that can help Black students overcome the related atrocities to this seemingly unending phenomenon of racism in schools.

In the article, Racism Got You Stressed? That May Be Holding Kids Back at School, Too, stress related to racial conflict induces hormones in Black children that contributes to the lack of school achievement disparities. The article reports, “the new Northwestern paper, a review of a trove of psychological research published in the September issue of American Psychologist, seeks to widen the scope of the achievement-gap discussion. It argues that racism’s direct effects on young people are in fact partially responsible for such disparities—not the material realities of discrimination, but the physical and emotional experience of racism itself. The authors cite previous research showing that when children confront the threat of being negatively stereotyped or suffering discrimination because of their race, they experience changes in levels of the stress hormone cortisol and also suffer from poorer quality and quantity of sleep.” This understanding can provide teachers a great opportunity to increase the quality of life for Black students by minimizing racism in schools.

The researchers suggest a solution that is problematic to say the least. They suggest that the challenge with the academic success of historically undeserved students lies with parenting skills of Black students. The researchers report that “one coping mechanism could be getting parents and guardians to promote better sleep habits among children, including establishing a regular bed- and wake-time schedule, and engaging in calming comforting rituals at the end of the day like reading together.” Once again researchers have blamed the home environment without consideration of other prevailing factions that contribute and steer racism in schools. Since the researchers have chosen to blame parents, let’s take a look at why Black parents inadvertently contribute to racism in schools.

Why do Black parents contribute to racism in schools?

Since many Black parents have been victimized by the educational system, they often prepare their children to live in a dual cultural world that involves helping them to develop skills for adult roles such as wage earners and parenthood in addition to negotiating a dominant society that has different cultural values and judges people by their skin color or ethnic background.

Teachers can help minimize racism in schools by developing positive racial teacher student classroom relationships. Developing positive racial teacher student classroom relationships provides benefits for schools, teachers, and students. Having positive and caring relationships in schools increases resilience and protects children from academic failure, mental illness, drug and alcohol abuse, and destructive behavior and violence. Long-term teacher-student relationships result in increased teacher job satisfaction.

Teachers who develop positive and personal relationships with students may prevent psychological development problems in their students. Students are more willing to develop positive relationships with teachers who tend to form close friendships with their students. developing positive racial relationships between teachers and students is the key factor that will eliminate racism in schools.

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All the best,

Dr. Derrick L. Campbell, Ed.D.

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Dr. Derrick Campbell