Academic journal article Educational Foundations

What Does Racism Have to Do with Leadership? Countering the Idea of Color-Blind Leadership: A Reflection on Race and the Growing Pressures of the Urban Principalship

Academic journal article Educational Foundations

What Does Racism Have to Do with Leadership? Countering the Idea of Color-Blind Leadership: A Reflection on Race and the Growing Pressures of the Urban Principalship

Article excerpt

Much of the history and study of leadership in general has omitted "other" perspectives in the literature. The same is true in educational leadership in general, and the principalship in particular. Consider that Tillman (2004b) points out that the top four journals in educational administration did not have a special issue commemorating or even acknowledging the 5 0th anniversary of the Brown vs. Board of Education (1954) decision, as did other journals like Education and Urban Society and the Journal of Negro Education. This is emblematic of a long history of placing the study of Black (1) issues and Black principals on the margins in educational administration (Tillman, 2004b). While finishing this article, I had two separate discussions with two African-American scholars about how precarious it was that two recently released books in the field of educational administration were both sadly without any contributions from African-American scholars, thus continuing a trend of omitting their perspectives. Indeed much of the literature developed in educational leadership in the last century essentially came about without the voices or perspectives of African Americans (Dantley, 1990, 2002; Matthews & Crow, 2010; Tillman, 2004b) and this continues to be an issue. This absence mirrored the deprivations African Americans were experiencing in the broader society thus making accounts of African-American historians necessary.

Certainly the discourse of the history of African Americans and their struggle to achieve equity in education has been enhanced by the work of noted scholars (Anderson, 1988; Gooden, 2004; Siddle-Walker, 1996). However, this story is not complete without a discussion of the lives of African-American leaders, especially principals (Alston, 2005; Brown, 2005; Gooden 2005; Siddle-Walker 2003; Tillman, 2004b, 2006). It is also important that these histories are reported from perspectives of African-American scholars who do not present them from a deficit perspective.

While the work described above has started to add more to the discourse on African-American school leaders, past and present, there is still a modicum of literature about these leaders and how they do their work in urban, suburban, and rural school contexts. Most African-American principals work in urban settings and while the general population is less familiar with the limited literature on these leaders, more people are familiar with how these leaders are depicted in pop culture. The fact that the broader society has drawn these inimical conclusions about African-American principals based on limited exposure is problematic for two reasons. First, the depictions of Black principals in pop culture are influential but not usually based on research. When there is research it tends to be deficit-based. This is analogous to the dominant population having no or limited relationships with African-American men but feeling like they know African-American men because of how they are depicted in the media and movies. In light of this fact and the growing influence and ease of accessibility of multiple forms of media, specifically video and television, I offer this account as a need to explore the problematic construction of the role of the African-American principal. Tillman (2007) has accurately noted that when African-American leaders are presented in movies, they are often presented in un-negotiated space that defines them as ineffective or uncaring. Tillman has also found a deficit perspective and while I agree with her assessment, I am adding to this discourse by suggesting that because of the paucity of the literature on African-Americans principals and the incomplete and inadequate portrayals in the media, these principals have been at times narrowly defined as hero educators who are called to do the highly improbable while making it look routine.

The purpose of this article is to disrupt the broader societal narrative of effective African-American principals of urban schools as portrayed in movies and media. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.