The Significance of Black Voices in the Education System

⁣In continuation of our celebration of Black History Month, we sat down with Caleb Logan, program manager for iMentor Bay Area, to discuss the importance of black voices – especially those of Black men – in our education system.⠀

Caleb Logan is a Program Manager at James Lick High School in San Jose. Before working at iMentor, he worked with City Year, San Jose as a Program Supervisor. In that role, Caleb discovered a passion for youth development and strived to increase opportunities for the students he served. He received his B.A. from Oglethorpe University. ⠀

Why is it important to have Black men in education?

⁣Caleb: The presence of Black men in schools are important because our voices matter. We have a right and a responsibility to use our voices to critique the way our schools work and be a model for young Black men being raised in an unjust system. I believe that Black men have a special voice that could result in genuine, substantive changes in our school systems nationwide.

How did you come to realize that Black people were living in an unjust society?

Growing up, I witnessed how unfair societal norms consistently took a toll on my father. He had to endure constant policing of “self” just to ensure he was able to keep his job. However, it wasn’t until I was in the tenth grade that I began to understand the ways in which I – as a Black man – was perceived by communities outside of my own. At the time, I remember reading “Native Son” by Richard Wright and it helped me grapple with that harsh new reality. 

What impact does this have on your work?

Caleb: As a young professional in 2020, I am endlessly aware of the privilege I have being a Black man in the workforce. When I’m frustrated at constantly having to code-switch or the feeling of “extra” policing put on my Black body, I am encouraged because I can show up to work more unapologetically Black than my ancestors could have ever dreamed.  

Speaking of showing up to work, how does being a Black man influence your role at iMentor?

In my work, I use my voice and perspective to develop a program at James Lick that reflects what I would have wanted in my community as a high school student. Thankfully, my job as Program Manager puts me in a position to have frank conversations with students about the world around them and their role in it. It is more important than ever for my students to see, and have conversation(s) with, a man of color navigating a society that was not necessarily built with them in mind. 

This interview is a part of iMentor’s Black History Month series. Read our additional features: The Importance of Representation in Education: Q&A with Primo Lasana, Creating Tomorrow’s Black Leaders: Q&A with Kelli Doss and Knocking Down Barriers for Black Students in College: Q&A with Shaquinah Taylor Wright.

Learn about iMentor’s mission, values, and commitment to diversity.