Feeling inspired by dope Black women doing their thing got me thinking about the work that we do in the classroom as educators. How do we motivate Black kids to create dangerously, to speak their truths, make their art, and to share their passions with the world?
A gifted, eccentric artist in a genre of art that was created as a form of resistance and revolution abandons everything his movement stood for in both artistic and personal acts of delusional self-grandeur and pro-fascist ideology.
That’s because Salvador Dali was the Kanye West of his day; an artist whose undeniable talent couldn’t be reconciled with his dangerous public antics, and whose actions sparked heated and complex conversations about the relationship between art and the artist, the power of celebrity and the gray lines between eccentricity and anti-social behavior in public life.
“The world changes according to the way people see it, and if you alter, even but a millimeter the way people look at reality, then you can change it.” James Baldwin
As educators, our jobs are to do exactly what Baldwin mentions above, shift the way our students view the reality around them. In order to do so I believe it’s necessary to not just use the poets mentioned above or some from their era but also elevate poets like those featured on Def Poetry Jam within the classroom. There are obviously dozens of Slam Poets featured on the now historical HBO series but some of my favorites to use in class are the following:
This week we talk about Black Panther and the ways that we can and should create Wakanda in our classrooms.
NY Times about the cinematography
Ron Clark Academy: Enter Wakanda
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It’s refreshing to hear music that is intentionally moving away from some of this contemporary trash we have to deal with. Don’t get me wrong I be loving certain songs when they add to my overall vibe, but I acknowledge the lack of substance in a lot of the records. And while I’m not saying that I only want to listen to this conscious type of rap, I am saying that I appreciate the way in which this can impact our kids.
All content areas require literacy, so I’d encourage educators to access those literacy skills through the visual arts. Contrasts and contradictions, repetition, imagery and symbolism are tools that help us construct meaning in our world. The development of these skills is at the heart of critical thinking which makes it possible for us to imagine a different world than the one we live in.
I’m in awe of Blackness right now.
Let’s share a little of that awe with our students and bring our classrooms to life by looking at our content through the eyes of the great Black artists of our time.
The teacher above had her students complete a unit in which they discussed Black culture through exploring the creation of the diaspora, themes of immigration and migration, and the carrying of customs from different parts of the world. Students had to ask their families a set of questions about their personal histories, look up traditional dress in the classroom, and then share their findings with students. And these kids were 4!!!