Today’s class began with the usual passing around of table tents with our names on them, helping us all to remember one another’s names. In “Mediating Race” with Professors Cathy Davidson and Racquel Gates, it’s not just the professors’ jobs to remember names but also the responsibility of students to learn the names of who they’re sitting next to. Using names in class discussions has already aided the building of trust in our community, as today’s collaborative efforts revealed.
Professor Davidson led with a brief lecture on The New Education and the Futures Initiative that later spilled into a Think-Pair-Share activity bringing both her work and Professor Gates’ Double Negative into conversation. To begin thinking about how to bring what we’re learning in class into our own classrooms, we went through Professor Gates’ slide deck that she uses to teach the history of Academy Awards acceptance speeches by Black actors. Then, in a Think-Pair-Share, students came up with three key words related to “Mediating Race” and education. After 90 seconds, we came together as a class and shared our key terms and phrases, typing them all out into a collaborative Google Doc. We grouped some of the key phrases together to come up with a proposal for the upcoming Futures Initiative Spring Conference, “Race and Its Futures.” In case you’re interested in applying, the deadline is March 1, 2019.
Here’s the abstract our class co-created:
Drawing from Professor Racquel Gates’ Double Negative, this panel, “Reconstructing Race in Academia: A Media Perspective,” will explore the link between media representations of race and examples of social and institutional racism, including in higher education. Media in all forms often situate race as a binary of positive and negative, superiority and inferiority, “high” and “low.” Those same binaries are replicated in the value systems in our classrooms and in our institutions. What can we do to “flip the script”?
As Richard Dyer writes, “racial imagery is central in organizing the world.” It shapes the way we learn and the way we teach and the way we engage in the world around us. How can we use new media in the democratic classroom to avoid replicating old systems of inequality? How do we locate authenticity in an inauthentic system–and locate ourselves as prospective authentic actors in a compromised system? How do we subvert techno- and bureaucratic systems that Kristen Warner calls “plastic representation” or “box-checking”? This panel will engage the audience in analyzing and addressing all of these questions.
We still have some work to do to plan an interactive activity with the audience, but I’m really excited to see what we come up with in the next few weeks!