Blog Entry Education, Youth Development, Narrative Change

Meet the Oakland Leader Championing the Greatness of Black Male Students

In the third and final chapter in the "Black Male Educators Speak" video series,we featured Bankh Akintunde, a native of Oakland and the Manhood Development program instructor at West Oakland Middle School. Read Akintude's reflections on his journey to become an educator, and the first time he felt goosebumps inside of a classroom.

Imagine walking into a school every day and being taught by someone who looks like you. Imagine that person shares your upbringing, the music you listen to, or simply represents a living roadmap to the future—a walking embodiment of success.

Now, what if this educator rigorously challenged you every day to tap into your greatness, exposing you to literature that broadened and enhanced your cultural understanding of who you are?

This was a dream of mine when I was younger.

However, as a student I was often placed in classes that were taught by teachers who had absolutely no clue what it meant to be a young African-American male growing up in Oakland. They spewed academic cultural prejudice while undermining my intellect. They looked at me from a deficit lens. And they looked nothing like me!

That is, until I reached high school.

I remember at the beginning of my sophomore year, my friend told me he was taking a really fun class and learning so much in such a short amount of time. He also mentioned that the class was only offered before school. I thought about it that night and decided to observe the class the following morning.

Upon entering that class, I could feel that there was something really different about it. A young African-American male teacher greeted us at the door and then followed with a brief check-in. There was music being played and everyone genuinely looked excited about being educated. At the start of the class, everyone stood up and recited a powerful affirmation.

THIS WAS THE VERY FIRST TIME I EVER FELT GOOSEBUMPS INSIDE A CLASSROOM.

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