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Teachers Suffer From ‘Racial Battle Fatigue’ After A Year Of Pandemic And Police Killings

It took Jasmine Lane five years to discover and fulfill her passion for English literature and teaching — but a year and a half to burn out.

“I have been navigating majority [or all] white spaces for a very long time. … In a state with 96% of its teaching staff being white, choosing teaching was to be no different,” the 27-year-old high school teacher in Minneapolis wrote in her blog this winter. But the abuse and isolation of this last year were too much, she wrote.

It wasn’t worth the tightness in her chest, “knowing I have to get up and stare at a silent screen hoping in vain that someone will talk, wondering which family will criticize me today, which students will yell at me, and whether administration will support my professional judgement.”

“So, dear reader,” she wrote, “I quit.”

Lane’s story is one of a growing number of anecdotal tales of stress and anxiety emerging from the ranks of Black teachers over the course of the last year. Data doesn’t yet confirm a trend, but if many Black teachers do quit, researchers and educators are concerned about the implications for student achievement and ongoing efforts to diversify the nation’s teaching workforce. Teaching was already a very stressful job, and the pandemic year has only made it worse. For Black teachers, that strain has been compounded in a year like no other. Since March 2020, Black Americans have experienced a perfect storm of social and emotional stressors, including the unequal death toll from COVID-19 in the Black community, the ongoing resurgence of white supremacy and an onslaught of high-profile police killings of Black people.

 

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