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Why Abbott Elementary is a Love Letter to Black Educators and Students

May 18, 2024 10:00AM ● By Anand Subramanian

Source- BlackOakTV

In a format similar to "Parks and Recreation," "Modern Family," and "The Office," the show tracks teachers at a public school in Philadelphia. It delves into various educational issues, such as teacher shortages, charter schools, and monitoring—a practice in which students are grouped by perceived ability, which is frequently racialized and class-based. It has also provided instructors with a sense of validation and acknowledgment. But we've come to see how vital this humor is in serving as a reminder of Black teachers' enormous influence on all of their pupils, especially Black youngsters. As the season draws to a close, we believe it is worthwhile to consider its significance. 

In addition to its comedic flair, the show's foundation lies in the personal story of its creator and lead, Quinta Brunson. Inspired by her profound connection with her Black elementary school teacher, Joyce Abbott, Brunson channels her gratitude into the show's essence. Abbott's steadfast belief and demanding standards were pivotal in Brunson's academic journey, and the series expresses gratitude towards Abbott's impactful influence.

Teachers, particularly Black teachers, are often the unsung heroes of their communities. They face immense pressure to educate and inspire students with limited resources. Abbott Elementary celebrates these educators, showcasing their dedication, creativity, and unwavering belief in their students' potential.  Janine Teagues is a second-year educator committed to providing her pupils with the tools they need to succeed, even if it means opposing the school administration. She passionately advocates for her kids and the larger school community.

Source: Medium | Robin A Henderson

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On the other hand, Gregory Eddie, a Black substitute teacher, has a natural ability to connect with his kids deeply. Initially ignorant of his influence, he eventually uses it to foster a feeling of purpose in his children by decorating the classroom with their artwork. As Gregory cultivates his student connections, his position as a guiding influence and champion becomes clear. Despite the hurdles, he vows to continue his teaching career. Characters Barbara Howard, Janine Teagues, and Gregory Eddie emphasize the unique role that Black instructors play in boosting student learning every day.

Abbott Elementary subtly yet effectively addresses the topic of culture, virtually melting into the background. Its power stems from its profound grasp of the context in which it operates, allowing it to create a universe and affect views with an authenticity that seems both recognized and creative. Empowering creators like Quinta Brunson broadens the scope to include a deeper, more complex story.

Seeing Black talent in front of the camera and driving the creative force behind the show is a powerful statement. It demonstrates that Black stories deserve to be told, and Black creators have the vision and skill to bring them to life. At its core, Abbott Elementary is about a community. We see the teachers band together, supporting each other through thick and thin. We witness the students forming bonds and learning valuable life lessons. There's a sense of camaraderie and shared purpose that transcends individual struggles.

This sense of community is essential for Black viewers. Throughout history, Black communities have had to rely on each other for support and resilience. Abbott Elementary reinforces the importance of community and the strength of working together. 

Abbott Elementary shines as a light of optimism, joy, and pride in a society that frequently ignores the hardships and successes of Black communities. It's a love letter to Black educators, students, and the communities they serve, a reminder that despite adversity, there is beauty, laughter, and hope for a better future.

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 Anand Subramanian is a freelance photographer and content writer based out of Tamil Nadu, India. Having a background in Engineering always made him curious about life on the other side of the spectrum. He leapt forward towards the Photography life and never looked back. Specializing in Documentary and  Portrait photography gave him an up-close and personal view into the complexities of human beings and those experiences helped him branch out from visual to words. Today he is mentoring passionate photographers and writing about the different dimensions of the art world.

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