The Lack of Black
Don’t get me wrong; I thoroughly enjoyed my undergrad experience at UTM and Sheridan College. Still, my beloved undergrad experience also disappointed me greatly. It was after my first semester that I realized the program I was in was not designed with people who look like me in mind. There were no Black art courses offered, seldom did we cover Black artists, there were no Black art instructors, and there were no Black professors. At least, not one that I saw in any of the hallways throughout the duration of my program.
I became hyper-aware of what I now call “The Lack of Black,” and even more aware of the subliminal messages that the lack of black throughout the institution insinuated; even if unintentionally. The lack of Black art courses told me that Black artists were not as important to learn about as their White counterparts. As a Black artist myself, this “told” me that the art I was creating and winning awards for in this program, probably would not matter in the real Art world.
The lack of Black art instructors or Black professors within the institution seemed to be a daily reminder that the institution I was spending thousands of dollars on annually, and studying hard in, would probably not hire me after I graduated. It is then that I really started thinking about the education system and the importance of an inclusive curriculum across the board.
In my Winter 2020 semester, I took a Teaching Art in the School and Community course with Lise Beaudry, who gave us an assignment that would allow me to dive more into the discussion of Black educators and curriculum, or rather, the lack thereof. After doing some research on the topic—I encourage you all to do the same— I enlisted one of the most intellectual women I know, one of my besties, Tianna Dowie-Chin, for a zoom call to discuss the lack of Black educators, Black curriculum, and to get advice on how all educators can better support the success of their Black students.
If you are an Educator, know an Educator, are thinking about a career in the field of education in any aspect, or, want to be a more aware human being , (we should all already be doing this, anyways) I encourage you to watch this video and share it with your peers.
Tianna Dowie-Chin is a doctoral candidate at the University of Florida pursuing a Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction with a specialization in Teachers, Schools, and Society. She is currently collecting data for her dissertation on Black mothers and their visions for their children’s education. She holds a Masters of Education from the University of Florida, a Bachelor of Education from OISE, University of Toronto and an Honors BA from York University. Before entering graduate school, Tianna worked as a high school teacher for the York Region District school board teaching History, Special Education and English. Her research centers on race and education with a particular focus on the experience of Black students and Educators.