Creating Safe Spaces for Black Male Educators to Connect, Grow, Lead

  • Ayodele Harrison supports black male educators through BMEsTalk, a virtual safe space for black male educators to connect, grow, and lead.
  • Are black male educators safe in their schools? Ayodele notes that many are asked to step into positions they may not want to be in.
  • Participating in community creates common experiences among black male educators can result in affinity, leading to positive impacts in the classroom.

Ayodele Harrison is the senior partner of education at CommunityBuild Ventures, a solution-focused firm that is committed to eliminating racial disparities by developing power, impactful, and racial equity-driven leaders and organizations. Previously, he was a math teacher who has taught in California, DC, and South Africa.

Ayodele has worked passionately on a main project for his organization, BMEsTalk. The project focuses on creating and curating safe spaces for black male educators.

Ayodele was interviewed for the teacher professional development blog PLtogether. You can watch the segment of the interview above, and we’ve shared some of the highlights below.

Gathering and convening happens in-person and virtually to create community

Ayodele has created virtual spaces black male educators to connect called BMEsTalk. BMEsTalk provides a much-needed safe space for black male educators to connect outside of the classroom.  Research shows that less than 2% of educators are black male educators.

With such a low number of black male teachers in the education field, CommunityBuild Ventures seeks to create a safe, professional learning space for them.

“What we endeavor to do is create spaces where they can gather and convene,” said Ayodele.

Currently, BMEsTalks are conducted via Twitter chats. They can be found by their popular Twitter handle @BMEsTalk where black male educators from around the country gather every Tuesday night.

If you’re one of few black male educators, where is your safe space?

“As being one of few in a building, it’s hard to know if you’re actually safe in that building emotionally, physically, or psychologically because there’s a heightened sense of awareness that you have because you are one of few, if not the only one, in the building,” Ayodele said.

Ayodele addresses the issue of black male teachers lacking safe spaces within their schools. Perhaps a safe space is in your own classroom, “but there are not very many other spaces,” he said. And even then, one’s own classroom may not be a safe space. Black male educators may have their learning environments intruded upon when students are consistently sent to into the learning environment for disciplinary reasons.

Personal experiences that resonate with Ayodele is frequently being assigned unrequested tasks within his school.

“Research has shown black male educators have been in positions where we’ve been asked to be disciplinarians,” he said.

Whether black male teachers are willing or unwilling to accept that role, Ayodele believes that is one of the areas the feeling of a lack of safety presents itself. BMEs not having the choice of who to become and what persona’s they’ll adopt within their schools can contribute to feeling unsafe.

There is a lot of growth in community for black male educators

“There is also growth that happens in affinity,” Ayodele said. In affinity, there is commonality, often leading to comradery. These connections can happen in non-affinity spaces, however, Ayodele believes that the impact is greater when black male educators are able to collaborate in this safe space.

Ayodele understands the importance to connect with other black male educators who are sharing experiences in their field. BMEsTalks supports the pressing needs of black male educators to support their connections and growth while eliminating racial disparities to allow them to feel safe in their schools.

Like what your reading? Watch more videos at PLtogether.org or read our related lounge interview with Jim Knight about how video paints a clear picture of an educator’s current reality. 

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