According to the Facebook post of Joe Paradox, "January 4th 2016, Atlanta educator Ron Clark makes video doing the Nae Nae with his students.. It goes viral, everyone LOVES it, he gets revered... REWIND..... March 11 2013, same city, educator Barry Browner makes a video doing the Harlem Shake with his students... It also goes viral, some people are "outraged", he gets fired".
These pictures below are more complex than the basic binary story of just one White and Black educator. The issues has been about Black agency as well as generational approval or disapproval to answer the question, "what is a school for, especially for Black children". It is really NOT about these two men but our collective interest is about those children and the children brings out the emotions in all of us. The future of children, and in this case Black children has us asking, do these images worry or inspire us to hope for better? I presume those of who view these images are left with more worry than inspiration based on what I have seen via people's on social media as well as my own visceral response.
What is not to love about children having fun at school? Yet, folks are upset or so seriously defend either teacher. In a world where many images of Black youth are that of "socially economically disadvantaged", we need more than a dance fad to dull the media glare that has stained our collective psyche. Dancing our way to freedom has not worked for Black people. Like the title of Spike Lee film, those of us who have dedicated our lives to the liberatory education and research to uplift Black people, are not Bamboozled by the spectacle of dancing videos. I submit that we should be worried about the young people's future not about two teachers trying to make a living. Also, that all of us who has seen memes like these know that if a picture of students doing math or science were posted, it would not be controversial but students and a school celebrating their dancing teachers appears to be only a gimmick to gain quick internet fame.
Like Debbie Allen said on television the 1980's , "Fame cost". As I watch this video compared to my recent visits to mostly Black schools in S. Central Los Angeles, where students do the same type of dancing, I am aware of the cost of a successful education in a challenging environment, and it is not cheap. These images appear cheap and not enough to sustain student or family in the future. I hope educators can be more focused on substance than spectacle in the future. Charter school reforms, private school innovations can be great, but not at the cost of manipulating children to sell a school. Do not make children or teachers dance their way to success, not unless your gonna hire Debbie Allen to help your run a legit dance school.
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