The originall Black Panthers

Derrick Bell: Only One of Many

The original Black Panthers

Derrick Bell: Only One of Many


The controversy surrounding Obama and one of his mentors, Derrick Bell, reminded me of an article and memo that teachers at one of the DeKalb County, Georgia schools found in their mailboxes one morning in 1991. How do I remember the year? I didn’t have to. At the time, it struck me as so despicable, I saved it hoping that one day it would come in handy. Here is the memo. I found it in my files.


March 14, 1991

Memo to:Faculty and Staff


Regarding Student Behavior

Since most of our behavior problems are from our boys, I am

offering the attached chapter from Countering the Conspiracy

to Destroy Black Boys, Vol II by Kawanza Kunjufu as food for

thought. Hopefully, some of his information will help us to

curve; if not change, some inappropriate behaviors from


As professionals, it is our duty t.o inspire and motivate …

The first thing I did was check out the author Kawanza Kunjufu. Surprise!

His book is still in print and he’s apparently an “education expert.” Please note, the principal who sent this  memo made two mistakes. Firstly, the author’s name is Jawanza, not Kawanza. The other mistake is more blatant, but I’ll assume that you found it yourself. Remember, this was written by the principal of the school!

I’m not going to include the whole chapter, but this is an example of the philosophy from the original.


When you teach Black boys, what do you see? Earlier I made

reference to Jesse Jackson or a drug addict. Whatever you see will

be what you produce. Do you have the same expectations for Renee

and the defiant Black boy? Research has shown that not only are expectations

the major factor in student achievement, but even within

the same classroom, teachers have different levels of expectations.

The Teacher Expectations Student Achievement (TESA) model is an

excellent tool to evaluate consistency.


Next, here is an example of a “lesson.”


A sample lesson plan

Concept: All people are alike and different in many ways.

Performance: The child will be able to identify other people who are

similar to him in the dimensions of race, sex, and age.

Materials: Pictures-Black ABC’s

Filmstrips-Getting to Know Me

Books-Colors Around Me

Procedure: Motivation-Teacher shows class various pictures of

Black children.

U- Tell me everything you can about this picture. (The

objective is to use Black children’s oral strength and

cultural heritage to stimulate further cognition.)

S- Tell me what color of skin this child has.

Tell me what color the child’s eyes are.

Tell me something about the child’s hair.

1- Class, these are pictures of Black children. Why do we

call them Black children? How many of us think these

children look like you?

There are lots of skin colors that little Black children


Have them draw a picture of themselves.

S- Tell me what color of skin this child has.

Tell me what color his eyes are.

Tell me something about this child’s hair.

P- My name is _

I am years old.

My eyes are _

My hair is _

I belong to the race

I am a (boy/girl)

U- Tell me everything you can about this picture.


      I had to deal with students, only in fourth grade, who vehemently declared that they hated white people. ERgo, they had no interest in learning in the ” white man’s school”

At that time, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing in front of my eyes. I never would have believed that there were human beings who couldn’t care less about learning.  I still remember standing in front of my first class and having an epiphany. I experienced a physical reaction, like feeling glass shards pierce my body. It was like stepping through a sheet of glass to a reality which was very different than what I had been taught. If, by a miracle,, there were a few students who wanted to learn, they ended up with A’s because that was what the administration demanded. The lowest grade allowed to go on a report card was a C. Any grade that was actually based on reality was questioned and the teacher was blamed for the child’s failure.  Remember, this was disseminated in 1991- twenty one years ago. I guess the educational system is the mess it is because we didn;t follow Mr Kunjufu’s advice or did we?

About Pamela

I have been around the block more than a few times and I see the streets getting dirtier and dirtier. I left the country in 1973 and moved to Israel. There, I became a founding settler of Yamit, and became a victim of the first catastrophic mistake of swapping land for "peace. I have a masters degree in psychology and am an autism professional. My book Love and Betrayl can be found on Amazon and at iuniverse.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *