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By BWSTimes Staff

Today in schools across the country, public and private,  Black males as commodities – the stereotypical PE teacher or athletic coach and the black pupil as the basketball or footballer – is the new norm. The epoch of this commodification draws its roots from slavery. Commoditizing Black males as simple-minded we reinforce through popular culture. It’s in our movies, TV shows, and now it’s in our schools.


I’m not knocking some of our incredible football and basketball coaches out there. Many of them make wonderful mentors for our kids. However, this psycho-social constructional way of thinking is not some natural phenomenon; this type of illogical rationale was unfortunately married in our nation’s past; it’s a part of our present social cognitive DNA, our current way of thinking of black men in education as merely the football coach or the PE teacher, and not English or Science teacher — for that would be too soft a job for the hyper-masculine African-American male.

Even black men have unconsciously internalized this negative and racist notion — this socially harming notion that tells them “perhaps, I can be the P.E. teacher or football coach,” when in actuality, that individual black man may possess the talent to teach a variety of academic subjects. They could be teaching subjects that would factually have a more profound and lasting economic impact on the pupils who come in contact with him.

Furthermore, although, the NBA and NFL are dominated by black bodies who are the commodities of out-of-touch corporate-elites who hardly fund education initiatives, the chances for the dreamers and students landing a position on a professional team is less than 1-percent. Hence, 99.5-percent will need a solid academic education to secure their future.

In the South, we place athletics above academics. Just take a look at some of the multi-million dollar football stadiums our tax dollars go to.

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Legacy Stadium in Katy is the newest high school football cathedral in Texas and costs over $72 million. With a capacity of 12,000, the stadium doesn’t crack the state’s top 30 largest high school stadiums. Melissa Phillip

So we’re paying for multi-million dollar high school stadiums and some school districts can’t even afford books??? 

Recently, on Facebook, I asked an unusual question; it was unusual because most Americans don’t think about the race of their current or past pedagogues:

To be honest, I wasn’t at all surprised to hear the vast number of my Facebook friends telling me that their African-American teachers were P.E. teachers and Athletic coaches.

We were, after all, seen as animal or beast-like. And whenever we’re walking down the street like clockwork in efforts to “connect,” some white men innocently state “you were probably an athlete when you were growing up.”

For example, while in school in Chicago I used to go to Starbucks near Chicago’s “Boys Town District.” I remember studying late one particular Friday night. I had a window seat. I remember taking a study break and looking out the window and seeing a 6 and a half foot black man walking in heels towards, what I presumed were the clubs. Next to me an older white gentleman leans over and says, “he could have been in the NBA,” in reference to the tall black gentleman dressed in drag. I thought to myself, maybe he could have been a doctor or a lawyer or teacher — or perhaps he already was one of those things.

I guess my main point is, let’s stop boxing our children and potential teachers simply by their appearance. Furthermore, let’s not limit our own perceived notions of what we think a black student or black male teacher could bring to the table— they are more valuable than many of us think.

Perhaps, it’s time for Hollywood to start producing great films like the “Great Debaters” again. Hopefully, the films will inspire us to see the potential of black excellence in academia.

The Black Wall Street Times is a news publication located in Tulsa, Okla. and Atlanta, Ga. At The BWSTimes, we focus on elevating the stories of our beloved Greenwood community, elevating the stories of...