Reginald Grant: Experiences by Reginald Grant
Experiences by Reginald Grant
“Stop Pigeonholing Me. Or not everyone who looks like you is with you.”
The following is an email I received in response to marketing materials sent to Los Angeles media about my book “ A Case for Bilingual Education” and my response.
As a Black man, it is interesting that you would talk about the need for bi-lingual education. I'm curious about why you think it is important and who it is important for?
, Managing Editor”
It’s so very interesting that so many people continue to pigeonhole Black men and of course others as well. The main-stream media’s portrayal of black men is negative: that we are capable of doing little and think even less. That is not my reality nor has it ever been the true reality of black men here in America or the world. We have been inventors, explorers, innovators and so much more. I am an educated black man who has, in spite of racism, classism and the other limitations placed on African Americans thrived and succeed here. I am a professional educator who has a world perspective and cares about every child who has ever been in my classroom. I taught as a certificated English Teacher in public schools for eleven years, so I have seen it all. For the past three and a half years I have taught international students ESL and academic skills for matriculation to universities. I returned to school and completed a Masters in Curriculum and Instruction, TESOL, and during this time I focused my research for the book series.
This particular book is the second in a series of three: 1) Education in America. A Teacher’s View. (2014) 2) A Case for Bilingual Education. A Teacher’s View. (2015) and 3) Success Stories , Insights by African American Males (2016). (I’ve worked with black males on the NAAAA.com board for the past 20+ years.)
Ok, to the questions at hand: Most every country in the world understands and values multiple languages. We live in an international interconnected world, so bilingualism is necessary.
1. Bilingual education per my book cover “When I state my position “A Case for Bilingual Education” I do not mean that every student designated as an ESL learner should be in bilingual education. To the contrary, I am making a case for those that are at the lowest rungs of English language acquisition – “those that cannot communicate in English.” Those whose primary language is dominant, those that have little if any English language communication skills. Can other students who have some skills benefit from bilingual education too; the answer is a resounding yes.
2. Everyone should be invested in the future and providing educational opportunities for every child should be everyone’s concern.
I could expand but seem to be getting wordy, let’s discuss more. Thank you
There’s intelligence under that Black Skin
I clearly remember an incident when a white associate said to me, as he fumbled for the words “You’re smart for a black guy.” Wow! One would think but it was not that big a deal to me. All these years later I smile when I think of that moment and those words. Here was someone I had did business with, socially interacted with and his biases and insight about black people never prepared him for interacting with an intelligent, articulate, well-read black man (if I can say these things about myself?). I have been in so many situations like this, where I exceeded someone’s expectations. It has become my norm, I was raised to think for myself, to work hard and not let ANYONE's low expectations for black men influence me. We must keep this in mind when we raise, mentor and lead black males that if we have high expectations for young black males they will develop high expectations for themselves.
“A Black Teacher’s Perspective”
As an African American male teacher, I have too often been an exception rather than the rule. Our children, regardless of their background need to see role models that look like themselves – it’s clearly a source of positive validation. I am not saying that others cannot be a positive influence on black males, but what I am saying is our educational system needs to do more to diversify our educational system. The numbers of Black, especially black male teachers are too low. Most of the children I have taught during my fifteen years as a professional educator were not African American. I touched many lives and I also ran into parents with preconceived negative notions about African American males. As a nation, we need to continue to learn to value what people bring to the table and not what they look like. While at Southgate High School (98% Latino at that time)I experienced much love and some agitation. But, the experience and positive impact I made on the lives of students and their families continue to give me great joy.
“Luezinger – Myron Rolle, Devin Gardner, Ted Ginn, Jr. and more”
When I was a teacher and the head football coach at Leuzinger high school racism hit me smack in the face. As a board member for the NAAAA which presents the premier award in the nation for African American Male High School Scholar Athletes, I had access to some of the brightest minds and best athletes on the planet. I held football camps in the Los Angeles region for years and connected students’ athletes (of all races) with colleges nationwide. While at Leuzinger I had arranged to have then future Rhodes Scholar, Neurosurgeon and NFL player Myron Rolle, Michigan star and future NFL player Devin Gardner, longtime NFL player Ted Ginn, Jr. and other notable Watkins Award alumni on the Leuzinger campus for a football camp and academic success workshop. The then Principal Dr. Ryan Smith balked and even had then Vice-principal Mr. Ono squash the entire program. The organization and people sounded too black. They actually invented a form for me to complete (I still have a completed copy) that was required to have speakers or guest on campus. There were unaccounted for speakers and guest on the campus on a daily basis, yet when I wanted to bring these positive African American role models on campus I was confronted with roadblock after roadblock. The fact is that No One else on the campus was required to complete the forms or had to jump through these hoops. I became evident that it was all because I was an “Uppity Blackman.” These guys were all positive role models for kids of all races and backgrounds and one never knows who will be touched in a positive way by these experiences. As a matter of fact, the Principal Dr. Ryan Smith and Assistant Principal Ono dropped into my English class unannounced one day. It was after other teachers did a “Learning Walk” where they evaluate what’s going on in the classrooms. I had such high reviews and apparently received great praise for what was going on in my class. So, they suddenly had to come and see for themselves. We have far too many people with power over and in our educational system that don’t give a rat’s …about the students.
International Perspective – “American Dream, Intelligent Black Man.”
My experiences teaching international student has been very rewarding and given me a clear picture of how the world is now connected. Two incidents come to mind when I think about my interaction while teaching international students ESL and Academic skill development for matriculation to American universities. The first happened while teaching French students from Paris during the summer when one of the students learned about my background and said to me “You have lived the American Dream.” I was floored and had never thought of my life in those terms. He was so right, a poor black boy from Greenbrier Projects in Atlanta, Georgia and High Point Projects in Seattle, Washington who had gone on to become a college graduate, play collegiate and professional football, businessman and then to become an educator. I guess it is an “American Dream” come true from meager beginnings to what could qualify as an American success story. Another student a few years later who was an international student from China in an Academic matriculation program on a university campus said to me “You’re an intelligent, educated, black man that can talk white.” He had been in my class for about a week when he said that to me and he had often looked at me with a perplexed look on his face. He had been in the United States for a year prior to entering the program and had attended an American high school here in Los Angeles. When we discussed the statement on several occasions during the semester he indicated that his perception of African American males had been shaped by his interaction with blacks in the high school, movies, his basketball coach and music videos. He later stated that I had given him a completely different view of African American males.