The Complexion of Teaching and Learning

November 6, 2019

The Complexion of Teaching and Learning” is a podcast docu-series in which we explore the historical, political, and professional insights and experiences of educators of color. Throughout these five conversations, we hope to equip educators with a frame that promotes awareness of the urgent need to teach students of color with high expectations and high standards, and that these high expectations have been customary in their community for generations despite historic inequities that impact education today.

The series is hosted by Brandon White, an ELA Specialist for UnboundEd and former middle school ELA teacher and Restorative Practices educator for the Rochester City School District. He also worked for seven years in Rochester as a servant leader intern and site coordinator for Children’s Defense Fund Freedom Schools Summer Literacy Programs.

In episode 1, “From Roots to Reconstruction,” the podcast discusses:

  • The connections between Brandon’s experiences as an educator of color and the experience of black Educators before, during, and right after slavery.
  • How learner-centered education for self-actualization was an African education concept prior to chattel slavery.
  • How collective work and self-determination were traditional practices amongst Black educators and learners before, during, and right after slavery.
  • The policies, practices, attitudes, and cultural messages that over time caused and perpetuated the racial marginalization in the education profession.
  • How the legacies of black educators can be embraced to better inform the call for higher expectations and standards in education.



At UnboundEd, two of the five charges that drive our work are to talk about race systemically and to examine bias and its role in our work and learning. We hope that the reflections and insights throughout the podcast and the following discussion questions provide fuel for meaningful, necessary, and courageous conversations are grounded in these charges:

  • How does this history make us rethink our current practices as educators? (principal, teacher, teacher’s assistant, etc.)
  • Do we recognize any systemic or cultural patterns during our time period that behave similarly to the time period we just explored?
  • How does this history make us rethink our interactions with students (of color)?