For educators: Get to know your Black and brown students on a real level. Don’t make assumptions. Getting to know your students will help you feel more comfortable communicating with their families.
I didn’t feel comfortable communicating with my students’ Latinx families until I truly got to know the students and their culture. Once you feel comfortable, you are free to be your authentic self, and that is what people want. They don’t want you to be like them—they want to feel they can trust and believe in you.
For families: Talk to teachers about how in your daily communication with your child about their schooling, something came up that caught your attention. Teachers, sadly, have biases. Some teachers assume people of color don’t pay much attention to schooling until there’s a problem.
That bias is often cut through when teachers realize that the parents are an active part of their student’s education. To be clear, this is a teacher issue, not a parent issue. But if a parent doesn’t already have a great relationship with a teacher, that’s the best way to start.
Kareem Neal, MA, is a special education teacher in Phoenix.