By Kennedy Dendy | Broadcast Reporter
Think for a moment about what the word “representation” means to you. For some, this word may bring up the picture of an inspiration or role model in their life. For others, this word relates to a professional in their area of interest. Regardless of what comes to mind, it is clear that representation plays a large role in one’s journey to becoming to where one wishes to be.
In elementary school and for the majority of my middle and high school years, I was the only black girl in the classroom. Confident in who I was and proud of the skin I was in, there was still a hope that one day I would encounter more teachers who looked like me. There was one individual I admired and connected with, even at the young age of six. Her name was Señora Buckner, and she was the first and only teacher of color I would encounter during my K-12 education.
I looked up to my Spanish teacher Señora Buckner and clung to every word she said. She had brown skin like me, and I felt instantly drawn to each class with her. She painted a clear picture that I was smart, beautiful and capable of anything I put my mind to.
A young mind is easily shaped by the teachings and mentorship that is gained in the classroom. Yes, I had incredible teachers and mentors growing up, but having someone who looked like me in the classroom brought joy to my young self.
More educators of color are needed in all levels of education.
Representation matters, and it is important for young children of color to be inspired by a diverse selection of educators who have the ability to show them what is possible. Through the books on the shelves and the images used to teach, it is essential to provide an accurate depiction of the makeup of our world. Similar to the effect that diversity in films and the media have, representation in the classroom can lead to a variety of positive outcomes for a young person.
It builds confidence.
It exposes the next generation to what is possible.
Nelson Mandela once said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” You have the power to break the cycles and to use your talent to build up someone else.
Regardless of what you are studying or what your plans after graduation may be, your influence could change the life of someone who needs it the most. Representation in the classroom inspires the future leaders of our world. Be the example by embracing diversity in the school system. This does not only apply to the educator in the room but also through the conversation and teachings that exemplify the uniqueness of our world.
There is power in representation.