President Rolling's "I Am an Anti-racist Art Educator" Inspires New Mexico Art Educators
Dr. James Haywood Rolling, Jr. published this in several places for us this month, and encouraged reposting from NAEA's Collaborate discussion board and this blog post. Please spread the word!
A few days ago, I was alerted that I had been publicly accused of being “poisonous” to the field of the arts and art education—the field I have dedicated my life’s work to—all because I identify as an anti-racist. Because life is short, my response was not to engage the accuser directly, diverting my own focus and wasting my energies, but rather to creatively redirect this attempt to injure me into a call for more anti-racist field workers. I’ve polished it and published it this brief new writing. Please share it and help me to amplify its reach. Lives that matter are still being violently snuffed out, lives like the young Elijah McClain, and we who stand against racism have work to do.
Self-portrait/Community rumination, walking through East New York, Brooklyn. Photo by James H. Rolling, Jr.
I am an anti-racist art educator because racism and its effects are still active and visible in the world. Anti-racist educators must be just as active and visible.
I am an anti-racist art educator because racism now calls anti-racists racists in a failed attempt to prevent anti-racist work from being done. We are doing the work anyway.
I am an anti-racist art educator because racism has been used to build many destructive things over many centuries--systems and practices that have hoarded wealth for some while exploiting others to death. Those structures still stand and while they continue to operate, the work of anti-racism is never done.
I am an anti-racist art educator because life is short, yet the effects of racism on lives and communities that matter deeply to me has lasted whole lifetimes and generations. These are folks whom I love. I grew up in these communities. These are still the places I feel most at home. There is literally no time to be wasted on lost focus or diverted problem-solving energies, the stuff our next creative leaps will be made of.
I am an anti-racist art educator because racism has done damage that has yet to be repaired and I believe one of the jobs of an educator is to educe readiness and repair out of one's students for the hard days of work and achievement ahead.
I am an anti-racist art educator because no child should be left behind or made invisible.
I am an anti-racist art educator because racism resists repair and even denies its own existence so it can continue to produce the wealth inequities, social hierarchies, and petty take-downs it was designed to produce without interruption.
I am an anti-racist art educator because racism assassinates the character of the very Obama's it pretends to elevate as examples that racism no longer exists, often lining up anti-Black Blacks as its firing squad so it can pretend it has no blood on its hands.
I am an anti-racist art educator because I will not be diverted into exhausting battles with those who attempt to goad me and who are not my focus. My focus is on advocating for and supporting those not yet fully aware