Tyrone Howard: Love’s in Need

Scholar of urban education answers one of UCLA’s most pressing “10 Questions.”

Tyrone Howard, UCLA professor of education and inaugural director of the UCLA Pritzker Center for Strengthening Children and Families, took part in a conversation as part of UCLA’s “10 Questions” series on Nov. 30. Moderated by Victoria Marks, associate dean of academic affairs, UCLA School of the Arts and Architecture, the panel included Alicia Gaspar de Alba, founding faculty member and former chair of the UCLA César E. Chávez Department of Chicana/o Studies; and artist and UCLA MFA alumna Sharon Hayes.

Dean Marks established the setting for the conversation, highlighting how the events of 2020 have led society to seek a new definition of love.

“Perhaps the love that we need more abundantly than ever right now is not the kind of love bent on self-fulfillment or satisfying personal need or managing ennui, but rather … the love that gives us a sense of purpose, a sense of togetherness, a sense of belonging,” she said. “Perhaps it is a love that is grounded in action, a love that tends to the wellbeing of others, that tends to the wellbeing of the planet and all life, that seeks justice and through which we behold beauty and wonder.”

Howard, whose work focuses on urban education and the social and political context of schools, opened the conversation by sharing the song, “Love’s in Need of Love Today,” by Stevie Wonder. 

“I use this as a start to my conversation because I think that love encompasses a number of core concepts and ideas,” said Professor Howard. “Over the past several weeks, months, years… issues such as justice have gotten love; peace has gotten its share of love; equity and diversity have gotten their share of love. Diversity has gotten its share of love, and struggle has gotten its share of love. 

“I think love is complicated. It’s not easy, it’s full of challenges, setbacks and pitfalls … the love that is forgiving is a love that says we are all imperfect individuals and we see the best, we see the promise, we see the potential, we see the possibilities of what each of us possesses as human beings.”

Howard added that love is timeless, and noted that, “… many of us are here today because we stand on the shoulders of all those individuals who prayed, who hoped and wished… that one day we could have something better than they had.”

“Love is also struggle and protest,” Howard said. “It means that you’ve got to recognize that that which you care for, that which you love… requires struggle in the face of injustice. Cornel West said that justice is what love looks like in public. Love is in need of love, because love is what justice looks like in public.”

Professor Howard leads the UCLA Pritzker Center for Strengthening Children and Families, a campus wide consortium examining academic, mental health, and social emotional experiences and challenges for the California’s most vulnerable youth populations. He is also the founder and director of the Black Male Institute at UCLA and director of the UCLA Center for the Transformation of Schools. Howard is a former Associate Dean for Equity, Diversity & Inclusion at UCLA Ed & IS. 

Howard’s research examines equity, culture, race, teaching and learning. He has published over 75 peer reviewed journal articles, book chapters, and technical reports. He has published several bestselling books, among them, “Why Race & Culture Matters in Schools and Black Male(d): Peril and promise in the education of African American males.” His two most recent books, “All Students Must Thrive: Transforming Schools to Combat Toxic Stressors and Cultivate Critical Wellness,” focuses on equity, race, trauma, and learning has become a must read for all educators, and “No More Teaching Without Positive Relationships, ” examines the importance of relational trust between teachers and students to enhance students’ learning.

To view the UCLA conversation on “What is Love?” with Professor Tyrone Howard, visit the UCLA Arts YouTube channel.