Topic 3 Raze: Task 3.
Watch the student film ‘Room of Silence’ from Rhode Island School of Design https://vimeo.com/161259012. Write a min. 100 word reflection
I had only watched half the film and had to recover before watching the second half. From an early age I have been there so many times and witnessed these moments. But it is eye opening to see the repercussions frankly laid out.
In my experience, no teacher has ever done enough. From when I was a child in school and since I have become a lecturer. No one, including myself of course, has ever done enough.
My conclusion is that no generation does enough, and this must be a call to action. Since European colonisation began to collapse; when the moral cost of racism outweighed the enticement of ambition.
No generation has done enough to achieve social justice. Despite intentions, the baby boomers failed. My own Gen X is failing. Racism insidiously perpetuates itself, because despite it’s impact, no one ever does enough.
This film has a few lessons about enough:
- In a crit it is clearly not enough for the teacher to say ‘I am white, therefore I do not understand a black artist’s context.’ Saying this once and then neglecting to research the context is failure. You will be caught out again and again in your own ignorance. If you are complicit in this then you have not done enough.
- If the work directly addresses racism then ignoring, disregarding, or talking around the main content of a work (about racism) is never enough. Talk about it. It does not matter how uncomfortable you are, or how uncomfortable the piece is, or how uncomfortable the conversation is: Do your job. Get comfortable with the uncomfortable. What is the artists intention? How successful are they in achieving it?
- It is not enough to say that the work of historical non-white artists is a separate subject. It’s not even correct. Fix the curriculum.
- It is not enough to excuse yourself because you are not expert. Being an educator is a position of power and privilege. Use your power and privilege to educate yourself about what is relevant to your students. It is not enough to rest on what was relevant to your teachers. No excuses.
- If other students make offensive or racist work it is not enough to take a passive role and hope it goes away. It is your role to deal with it directly and promptly, and to facilitate conversations among students to resolve the repercussions.
- It is not enough to call out only obvious and overt racism. Be up to date with all the subtle, historical, and current forms racism takes. Casual racism, microagressions, exoticism, aversive racism to name a few. These must be understood and challenged as they occur.
- It is not enough to apologise. For instance when you confuse your student’s names. Know that the students experience will affect their performance and therefore affect their grade and therefore affect attainment. Most importantly it affects their identity. Every moment counts and can resonate in someone’s life endlessly.
- It is not enough to merely tolerate students who bring up the subject of race frequently. Normalise conversations about race and oppression and give the space and time it deserves. Support their belonging and in fact the moral leadership shown by those who stand up for their values.
- It is not enough to say that we all are equal. Nor is equal learning enough. The real struggle is to ensure that all students know they belong and can enjoy the benefits of education.
We will always fall short if we focus on whether we can do enough for the generation we are educating. When there is hope that the benefits of education and opportunity perpetuate themselves onto multiple future generations, then we will only just be begining to do enough.