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Is Dr. Jawanza Kunjufu Right in Saying White Female Teachers Can’t Teach Black Males?

By Nigel Boys

According to Edward Hayes, freelance writer on examiner.com, white people are not good to teach African-American males, if you want them to stay out of trouble. He adds that, while black teachers still have problems with some students in their class, they don’t have half the problems with discipline among young black males their whites colleagues do.

The freelance writer goes on to say that test results show that white female teachers cannot effectively teach black male students, and that’s a fact, even though many teachers blame the students for their lack of learning.

Hayes refereances an article by Dr. Jawanza Kunjufu, a successful guest speaker at numerous universities throughout the U.S. and author of 33 books, on the subject of how to teach young African-American boys.

Dr. Kunjufu doesn’t pull punches when he talks about white female teachers being unable to teach black male students; he just states facts and gives the plain honest truth.

Kunjufu says white female teachers are afraid of young black men and asks how they can effectively teach them in school. He posed this question to the audience at a Texas Tech University, Texas, several years ago, during an African-American Education Summit.

Reactions to Kunjufu’s speech were varied and some even thought that he didn’t know what he was talking about.

One commenter wrote that the problem is not with the teachers, as Dr. Kunjufu believes. He adds that it has nothing to do with racial conflict and any student, black or white, can learn if they have the desire to do so.

The commenter argues that Dr. Kunjufu is just using the racial excuse to blame the white people for the failure of African-American students, according to the commenter. They add that when Kunjufu is saying that a black male students cannot learn under a white female teacher, he is belittling his own race, because they can learn from anyone.

The freelance writer concludes by saying that while adults are arguing the reasons for African-American males being suspended from school, the students are the ones that are suffering. He adds that it’s about time that America woke up and realized that there is a crisis in the educational system.

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19 thoughts on “Is Dr. Jawanza Kunjufu Right in Saying White Female Teachers Can’t Teach Black Males?

  1. A. G.

    He is right, if you don’t understand where I am coming from there is no way you can understand where I am going and get thru to me. We need more Black males teaching in the school system, as a matter of fact, we have entirely too many White females teaching in the public school system!

    Reply
    • KIKAY EXUM

      I agree with our brother Dr. Jawanza position! A white teacher had my grandson,brushing hair!! My daughter removed him immediately, not before telling her, If there is any hair brushing, it would be her’s!!! My daughter gave me something think about, she stated that is one of the reason’s our young men desire white girl’s and many times, they are not attractive, they see daily from kindergarten to high school, they are being groomed to see whiteness as beauty.

      Reply
  2. Berdell Fleming

    He is so very right, I worked as an educator for 30+ years and saw this disconnect happening over and over.
    Our little boys are fine when they are little and cute ,they are treated more like pets by euro teachers during the young years but as they get older and become to close or try to be as close as they were when they are younger they are precieved as threats, fresh or forward and thrown out for very minor infractions.
    The children become confused .

    Reply
  3. Mfuasi

    First, before folk start going crazy, the brother is making a “generalization”. In other words, generally, white females cannot effectively teach Black boys. Why? First there is the negative and threatening stereotype of Black males, which white people and especially white females, again generally, believe. Second, there is no people in this nation as fear-prone as white females. Generally speaking, they are scared of many things that would leave others unmoved. Who else but white women routinely cross the street, clutch their handbags, change elevators, and click their car door locks upon just seeing or encountering a disinterested Black male? Who else, upon seeing something akin to a mouse, uses adjectives like terrified, horrified and petrified

    Reply
  4. Kariuki Kiragu

    The way things are, the African male is a threat to the white one through superior strength and dominate genes, bringing up the issue of breeding the Europeans out of existence through their women.
    How, then, a European woman is supposed to empower this threat, which is supposedly to be actuated through her, is beyond me.
    It is true that Africans can breed Europeans out of existence, which is partly the bases of family planning programs but the idea that African men hanker after the generally formless European women, to me, is an insult.

    Reply
  5. Fab

    As a teacher (not just an observer) I’ve noticed quite the opposite. I have observed that black children seem to respect white teachers more and act lik they are gifts of god if they want to teach them. It could just be my school but others I know observe the same thing. Some students reject us and our knowledge because we look like them.

    Reply
    • Akbar

      What you are describing is not scholarly as opposed to what Dr. Kunjufu and others have researched. Overall, in the long term, what you are seeing does not create long term educational benefits. If all you see is whites doing well, and hearing that you are behind whites, (not unique but behind) then you attach to the white teacher and reject the Black. same old story, no surprise here. I was kind of like that in elementary school, until I overheard Muhammad Ali on television talking about not going into the draft… and who called him n***… I thought then it was okay to be Black and like myself. I was taught not to by whites and unconsciously by Blacks in my community/church.

      I see what you are saying for sure, but it does not negate that if whites do good with white teachers then wouldn’t we do good with Black ones if we see them in a more positive and competent light? I interned at a Jewish HS. I was so proud of them learning general stuff, but also about their history. One look around and I saw what that cohesion had done for them over thousands of years.

      Reply
  6. Nick Westbrooks

    First, I just wanted to mention that there are always exceptions to the rule. Second, there are additional factors that go into White female inability to teach Black boys. According to Dr. Umar Johnson, teacher bias plays a major role. In his book he states, “…the most powerful weapon in the classroom is the teacher’s belief, or lack thereof, in the student’s ability to learn” (71). So when they make comments such as “These children can’t learn,” “Education is a waste of time,” “I don’t diagnose those children as mentally gifted,” and “I don’t even know why I bother to come to work,” those attitudes are reflected in their teaching.

    It’s also important to add that while the majority of public school teachers are White, a growing majority of those come from outside of the community to teach in urban districts. I’ll also say that many White female teachers or unaware or ignore the fact that Black boys are culturally different from other students and therefore learn differently from other students. They have a higher verve and energy stemming from their home environment, but some White teachers misdiagnose them with behavioral and psychological disabilities.

    On a final point, before anyone believes that Dr. Kunjufu is saying that White females shouldn’t be teaching Black males at all, we must be aware of the reality that the majority of teachers in schools are White and female, and then understand that Dr. Kunjufu says that the prerequisite for teaching Black students is that you first of all MUST LOVE Black students. He doesn’t deny White females the right to not teach them, and he even offers teaching strategies for all instructors and strategies for White professionals specifically.

    Reply
  7. Akbar

    Dr Kunjufu is the authority in this area, for all who have never heard of him. I was privileged to meet him as his crest was just rising in the early 90’s. We were wearing the X caps and entering the Afrocentricty Era; it was a very scholarly time. I read more books in the nineties about being Black and our history than ever before or since… without it being a requirement that is.

    He knows that all white female teachers are not creating all the problems, he is a scholar and needs us to take a hard look at this social phenomenon. Racism has to be seen like and adjective not a noun. It created permanent structures in our society that become the “norm” over time. One can never accuse someone of bringing racism into the picture because its a part of our American system and here to stay like crime and poverty. You can question there competence to promulgate or contextualize everyday racism but not that it exists. Like O2 (Oxygen) Black women were the primary teachers of our children before desegregation dismantled the Black community infrastructure. Now they had to face discrimination and be overlooked for the white women. When that happened the structure was rebuilt to emphasize grades to jobs not family and character then finding what you love ultimately.

    Reply
  8. Myra Townes

    As a mother of 3 boys, the academic process for black males is a struggle for the parent & child!!! I spent countless days in the school fighting for my child not to be placed in special education. I fought and won a case against the Board of Education for tutorial services for them to be successes. All of them had white teachers Black teachers come a dime a dozen. Its very important to know what’s going on with our boys in the school setting we need to push them & the white teachers and not take no for an answer them they are active learners. Its my job to see it through.

    Reply
  9. Dr Jawanza Kunjufu

    I did not say or write that white female teachers cannot teach Black boys. I raised the question. I am concerned that 83% of teachers are white and female and only 1% are Black male. I would like to see an increase in Black male teachers and I would like White female teachers raise their expectations, understand Black male learning styles, bond with them more and reduce the number being placed in special education and suspended.

    Reply
  10. Lynn

    My 4 y/o old grandson started pre-school this year. He only lasted a few months.
    His white teacher claimed that he did not know his ABCs, colors or his numbers.
    He knows all these things. She did not take the time needed to find out. He is now in a school for ‘slow’ children. His new teacher (black) recognizes that he knows all of these things. He was a preemie and possible has ADHD. Still waiting for him to be tested for that. This white teacher has put him at a disadvantage by labeling him ‘slow’. SHAMEFUL & DISGUSTING.

    Reply
  11. Rev. H. Jeffery Harris

    ***Having done a great deal of research in education reform there is no question that much has been lost as our excellent Black American women are so good in business that we’ve lost our best and brightest Black Educator Class! Not to discount the need for Black men in the classroom but our finest day was when young Johnny was taught by the lady living down the street. The lady who went to Johnny’s house after school when he disrespected her in class that day! And the same lady that saw Johnny’s mother in Church on Sunday morning. It is a tough issue that we must figure out. I will simply add that a woman with great intentions a loving heart and brains can reach a child of any race. I’ve seen it enough to know this truth. It is not the norm, but rather the exception. My Goddaughter is one of those exceptions and she would be the first to say that not every White woman can teach a Black male child. Yes Lord knows we must figure this thing out! Lord bless and keep all of you in perfect peace. Amen and amen.
    ***

    Reply
  12. ksh

    Grandma Lynn with the preschooler. I have heard similar stories and have a few of my own. I am a Head Start child, was raised in a Head Start home and taught in the early care and education classrooms. The “Little Engine that Could” at 4 years old in the 70s/80s is now literally “Swiping at Smart Phones” at 4 months old; Yes black children are advanced comparatively in my experience… I am a scholar/researcher and consultant, and we are professionalizing the field of early care and education. It is Love in Action!

    The change started several years ago with the National Black Child Development Institute, Head Start and NAEYC (associations)… In short, once upon a time ago our “Believe” was Stronger than our Knowledge; and thanks in large part to those on this post (namely Akbar and Kunjufu) and others “we Know more today than we are Doing” with young (black) children (2014). I remain positive!

    Recognizing the “Genius” in black children (and others) is a uniquely acquired skill set around what is socio-emotionally, culturally/linguistically and age/developmentally appropriate aligned to new theory, practice and research that is interdisciplinary. I mention often that “a genius or good teacher in a bad system; the system wins each time not our genius or teaching good…” I believe that people are our most valuable resource, and therefore the same is true for people as are students in bad systems!

    We have a crisis saving and rescuing black and brown boys, and structuring appropriate relationships between (student-culture; student-teacher; student-curriculum; school/home/community-environment). It is a “wick problem” that must be better managed and we need everyone in the fight at various levels!

    I am mindful that everybody on the front lines “fighting” for black boys are neither black nor male, and probably will not be soon enough! Therefore, understanding and using Dr Kunjufu’s recommendations and a “systems thinking” multi-prong strategy are critical. Misrepresentations in articles, popular media and blogs can leave many stakeholders off focused until now perhaps (see Obama: Initiative on Men…)!

    I am concerned about both experts and novice in early care and education (in general) not being credentialed (vetted through what I call Reality Andragogy) to assess and evaluate competency; as little to no respect for alternative worldviews/perspectives (theory) and state/local management of ideology/curriculum (practice) remains too political. Greater since 2008!

    I am critical and race specific, (perhaps gender) in a black and larger social context as a topic of scholarly inquiry. Otherwise, I do not want to give energy where it does not belong! There is a “process learning” approach to the development of human potential… early care and education professionals need to better articulate children at P.L.A.Y (Process; Learning; Approach: for Young children); PLAY pedagogy is kid’s style of knowing/meaning making; and how small/gross motor skill development for young children translation into necessary social/emotional health later as adults. These are the job skills, people or soft skills and long term knowledge (network) development skills needed to innovate/create with talent from black communities and families… ksh

    Reply
  13. Lauretta

    show me the NUMBERS … let the statistics bare witness … i call for public disclosure, in excruciating detail. we simply need to plot: race of teacher vs number of boys expelled or suspended, in black and white, by state, county, and school … the numbers will tell us if there is a “conspiracy” … we count everything else … anything less is conjecture. if there is one thing i know for certain: you cannot argue with the numbers. it is what it is. imo, if in doubt, teach your own, and pay exceptional attention when they are taught by others.

    Reply
  14. Michael J. Benardo

    Seems to be true. And to those who say that we are saying Black boys can’t learn from a White female teacher is elittling the boys, we are not saying that, we are saying that White female teachers don’t seem to know how teach them. I think the reasons are that they dislike Black males, and if they are over a certain age, are scared of them. Kids, especially children under 12, quickly pick up how an adult feels about them, regardless of how you try to act toward them. Kids usually don’t co-operate with adults who they feel dislike them or are scared of them.

    Reply

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