Educator, writer, and entrepreneur Erica Buddington has dedicated her efforts to providing accessible education to children of color. Having worked in education for several years, Buddington has found her main cause of concern to be what children of color are learning and how they are learning it. Through Langston League, a consulting firm providing a culturally responsive curriculum, Buddington is serving a need for children everywhere.
Though she hopes to provide culturally affirming curriculum for children, Buddington herself had a complex experience in school. Born in Brooklyn, New York, Buddington went to both private and public schools, bringing on a diverse set of experiences.
“It was a mixed bag—I started off in Brooklyn private school and I actually had a really good experience. For eight years the teachers were predominantly Black and Hispanic, and the culture was very affirming,” says Buddington. “Then I went to public school, where people were predominantly white.”
It was in public school that she found the curriculum and teaching style far less appropriate for students of color. Not only were the teachers predominantly white, but also the curriculum in itself greatly lacked figures and authors of color. This issue would prove to be an inspiration for her to write.
“Though there were books of Black women writing, they never made it to my schools’ bookshelves,” says Buddington. “I became a writer, because I wanted to see more of me.”
Buddington started writing poetry from the young age of 4. Since then, she has written four books not only as a form of personal catharsis, but also for the sake of more representation for other Black people.
“[Writing] is a relief, definitely therapy, but there is also power in it,” says Buddington. “There is power in knowing I can make people feel affirmed, but I also know that is a lot of responsibility.”
Beyond writing, she found unexpected passion in education. She began teaching, and found just how needed culturally relevant curriculum and teaching methods are. Among her goals, she hopes to connect kids to important information through familiar means. In the past, doing this through rapping songs about geography over Cardi B, and analyzing Beyoncé’s “Lemonade” to enhance writing skills.
“I want to be a bridge between the core content and their contemporary ideals.
“I eat lunch with the kids, I’m on the playground with them, I hear how they speak, how they move, as well as the music and the movies they listen to, and I go home and I listen to it. Even though it may not be my cup of tea, I can use it in a lesson,” explains Buddington. “I’m going to take what you are singing in the hallway and use it in a lesson—that is a bridge.”
Langston League hopes to help all teachers and educators present information as a bridge through “infusing cultural knowledge, student experiences, beliefs and interests into each lesson.” But, beyond cultural relevance, Buddington hopes to push her students into the world and give her students an immersive education—through decoration of the classroom to match the subject matter or several field trips to various locations.
“You can get an education anywhere, I want them to feel as though they are in the world; when they enter my classroom, I want them to feel as though the walls have disappeared.”
Though Buddington is making strides in improving education in today’s culture, there are still many issues that in her opinion must be addressed. Not only are textbooks lacking in accurate Black history, but also curriculum is not well equipped for a classroom with a range in learning ability.
“There is a lot of curriculum at grade level, but there is no scaffolding for teaching in a classroom. I have some kids that read at a third grade level, some kids that read at a sixth grade level, some kids that read at an eighth grade level,” explains Buddington, “there are so many inaccurate statements and half truths in history—just not telling children the truth.”
Despite the problems Buddington sees in education today, she hopes to continue providing kids with the education they need to navigate the world. Though young people need plenty of guidance, Buddington feels that children today can handle far more than they are given credit for. She hopes to give them confidence to take on the responsibility they are able to.
“I want children to be able to contribute to their future—they need people to stop making things for them,” says Buddington. “We need to give kids more credit.”