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Pamela Lewis discusses black empowerment in the classroom

23rd June 2016

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“Instilling black pride is not a threat. It is a necessity.”

In an interview with The Huffington Post, author and educator Pamela Lewis discusses the imperative of black empowerment in America’s urban schools.

Pamela Lewis isn’t like most of her fellow teachers. Lewis is black. She’s from the North Bronx and grew up in housing projects. She attended schools in which it was not a given that students would go on to colleges and careers.

So, in a country where only 17 percent of K-12 public school teachers identify as minorities, she believes she has rare and valuable insight into the issues facing students of color. In her book to be published this month, Teaching While Black: A New Voice on Race and Education in New York City, she argues that educators should refuse to be colorblind and should give deep consideration to their students’ racial backgrounds. “I pray this book will help you to never be so naive as to think that racism has no grip on your classroom,” Lewis writes. “I simply ask you to see us, and to promote our children’s ability to see themselves. Instilling black pride is not a threat. It is a necessity.”

Teaching While Black makes a broad call for a more culturally responsive curriculum. In detailing Lewis’ own experiences during her first decade of teaching in New York’s public schools, it takes readers inside classrooms where students are sometimes distressingly poor and deeply uncomfortable in their own skin.

Read Pamela Lewis’s full interview at the Huffington Post here.

Teaching While Black: A New Voice on Race and Education in New York City is available to order at the Fordham University Press website.

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