Despite decades of reform efforts, Black students’ educational experiences continue to be shaped by anti-blackness, the general or specific contempt for blackness, resulting in Black people not being seen as fully human and worthy of having their civil rights and humanity observed and protected.

Data on the more than 350,000 Black students in California schools suggests that we must do something different, as many are not being served well in the Golden State. Schools oftentimes are harbors for the production and maintenance of anti-blackness, consequently positioning Black students as uneducable and justifying policies and practices that are detrimental to their well-being.

Institutionally, anti-blackness manifests in how school segregation limits Black students’ access to academic opportunities that would enable them to succeed academically. Moreover, even when Black students attend integrated and resource-rich schools, their schooling experiences continue to be tainted by anti-blackness, as they are frequently the targets of lowered expectations from teachers such as being seen as lacking intellectual gifts and talents, consequently, not being recommended for gifted programs, Advance Placement and honors courses. Another area is academic tracking where Black students are overrepresented in special education and low-level classes.

Despite the endemic nature of anti-blackness in society, educators have a duty to work toward disrupting anti-blackness in schools. We suggest three ways for educational practitioners to do so and carve out possibilities for Black students to thrive in spite of anti-blackness.

  1. Radical care through caseloads. Schools need a systematic way of supporting Black students and staying abreast of their day-to-day experiences.
  2. Professional development centering Black students’ experiences. One of the more pivotal steps that school leaders can take to disrupt anti-blackness is to increase staff knowledge about Black students.
  3. Black third spaces. A valuable step for disrupting anti-blackness is the creation of all-Black or third spaces for Black students. Third spaces that center Black students’ races and other identities, can disrupt anti-blackness on campuses by empowering Black students to develop a collective voice (and space) to address anti-blackness. Schools should create spaces for Black students, such as Black student unions, to feel safe while pushing

Read the full article about supporting Black students by Keara Williams, Gene Mcadoo and Tyrone C. Howard at EdSource.