As a Black man, more generally, I have lived among the fallout of structural racism and institutionalized injustice in my own life. As a Black educator, I have seen its pernicious reach through the lives of my students. I myself have been arrested, assaulted and harassed by police during my time as a teacher and principal.

When I reflect on the sweeping movement now underway, I cannot help but wonder if our newly woke allies sharing out social media solidarity will truly stand with us after their sudden indignation settles. Once corporate America decides this “moment” has passed, will Black Lives (still) Matter? All of which underscores the fundamental question: What would it look like for this nation to give full, enduring meaning to the term Black Lives Matter?

As a Black educator, the answer is clear to me: In order to ensure that Black Lives Matter, we must ensure that Black Minds Matter. We must start with our schools.

For generations, the color of your skin and your zip code have been the essential determinants of your academic and, therefore, economic success or failure. Still now, Black children are five times as likely to attend highly segregated schools and twice as likely to attend a high-poverty school as their white peers, which yields massive funding disparities. School districts serving mostly Black and brown children receive $23 billion less in funding annually than whiter districts. Our education system is not simply broken for Black and brown children; rather, it is constructed specifically to disadvantage them at every turn.

Even today, as schools around the country start the school year with buildings closed due to COVID-19, wealthier white families are forming “pandemic pods,” finding private tutors to support their students in their distance learning. Meanwhile, Black and brown children are enduring the slow death of poor instruction in underfunded and often failing schools.

I founded the Center for Black Educator Development because I know the transformational power that attracting and developing more Black educators holds for Black students, schools and entire communities. It is for that reason that, despite the entrenched structural racism that we continue to face, I remain hopeful that we may yet see a fairer and more just America in the future.

Read the full article about Black educators by Sharif El-Mekki at The 74.