Eric Thomas, respectfully known as the “Hip Hop Preacher” is a person I listen to for motivation. One of my favorite motivational videos of his is “What’s Your Why?” The video reveals the story of why NBA Superstar Kevin Durant wears the number 35 and explains how the “Why” behind the number 35 motivates him as a basketball player. This video had me thinking “What is My Why?” Why do I choose to be an education writer? Why is it so important to me? Let me tell you how I got started.
I began writing for Education Post in 2016. I’d never been a writer before. I was only used to sharing my thoughts with the local Indianapolis media on a few education topics – typically on stories about minority teachers who educate black and brown students. However, after attending a retreat with other writers from Education Post, I began to understand my purpose of being there and becoming a voice for other black educators. I realized the obligation I had. I owed it to the education profession to speak the truth. I owed it to my city to speak the truth. I also owed it to those who were not being given the truth.
After a while, my writing began to change significantly. My piece “Why Do Poor and Children of Color Have to Go To Bad Schools?” was published in the Huffington Post. It allowed me to express my frustration with those who were against school choice. I needed people to know I refused to accept that students of color and poor children had to attend the horrible school in their neighborhood instead of having the chance to attend a high performing school that wasn’t in their neighborhood. It was the truth. It was my truth and theirs.
So why did I choose to become a writer? Writing is a way of activism. I am a black man. I am a black educator. Right now, I am a black male educator in a school leadership position. The fact is black male teachers make up roughly 2% of the teaching population in this country. We all know that is not enough.
Teaching is my purpose.
Writing allows me to share my passion. It allows me to advocate for those who cannot advocate for themselves. It allows me to shed light on the system that attempts to shut us out and shut us down.
Indy Education is an education publication for the people, written by the people, about the people. Our tagline on our website says, “We Must Do Better.” It could also say “We Deserve Better.“ As an education writer, I aim to speak the truth and to share the truth with the people.
Lastly, I am an education writer because I have made an impact. It was me lending my voice here in the city about the lack of minority teachers that created a conversation about the lack of minority teachers specifically African American male teachers in our classrooms. My series “Breaking the Mold” has brought a focus on black female school leaders in Indianapolis. I have written pieces on the lack of black people on school boards. I have written pieces on school choice. I have written pieces that have offered tips to teachers, students, and parents. I have made an impact on education as a profession, Indianapolis as a city, and the community within this city.
My favorite fact is that I am not alone in this online activism. To my fellow education writers and Citizen Ed crew: Shawnta Barnes, Chi Bornfree, Barato Britt, Reggie Brumfield, Erica Copeland, Latoya Douglas, Lamont Douglas, Mendell Gritner, Gary Hardie, Dana Henry, Cheryl Kirk, Marlena Little, Andrew Pillow, LaShundra Richmond, Danielle Sanders, Florentina Staigers, Dana Wade, Teresena Wright, share your “Why” and let’s inspire others to elevate their voices as education writers!
Why I Write: Sylvia Denice