How Cultural Indoctrination Exists in Our Schools and Impacts Black Students

Kwame Sarfo-Mensah
7 min readJan 9, 2020

I recently came across an article on Medium entitled “Culturally Responsive or Liberal Indoctrination”, which was in response to a recent Edutopia article I wrote, describing the process that math teachers should take to create lessons and tasks that are culturally responsive to the student population they serve. Although I agree with the author’s basic argument that teachers must allow students to develop their own agency around highly political issues, I was troubled that he questioned the integrity of my lesson’s intent and suggested that I imposed my personal views on racial profiling onto my students. In the article, the author basically asserts that it is the teachers’ responsibility to expose students to multiple perspectives of a social justice issue so that they can process the information and develop their own thinking around the issue.

A few of my 7th Grade students doing research on the 4th Amendment

In an effort to address any misconceptions about my work, I feel that it is necessary to provide the reader with some background information about the project referenced in my Edutopia article. The focus of the class project was on the relationship between law enforcement and communities of color in Boston. This was a topic that my seventh-grade students, who were predominantly African-American and Latinx, were interested in investigating because many of them had been personally impacted by it. As a matter of fact, there were students who revealed stories about being stopped and frisked by police officers because they fit the physical description of a suspect. Other students shared stories of how they had family members who were wrongly convicted for crimes they did not commit and are still serving time in prison. I even had one student reveal that his uncle was shot to death by a police officer. I share all of this to highlight the fact that many of my students already entered the project with a negative view on law enforcement based on their lived experiences.

Throughout the project, I presented my students with a multitude of qualitative and quantitative data points to research and challenged them to strengthen their initial arguments with proven facts. To build their background knowledge on racial profiling, the students researched the Fourth Amendment, Jim Crow laws, the Thirteenth Amendment, and the history of slave codes…

Kwame Sarfo-Mensah

Founder of Identity Talk Consulting, LLC. | Middle School Math Educator | Teacher Development Specialist | Author