The aim of this essay is to investigate the behaviours of black artists in white higher educational spaces. I will be analysing the different ways institutions encourage the racialisation of space by reproducing white conditions, and in contrast how it is being combatted. In weight of this context, the research questions are as follows; ‘How do black students create art in often isolating and discriminatory institutions?', and secondly I ask; ‘How can we prevent schools from behaving in a way that perpetuates post-colonial racism?' I will also be looking at the labour required of black students to reproduce whiteness and/or positioning themselves as educators of race-based conversations. In this context, I’ll be enquiring the conditions of the classroom, the realities of tokens/quotas and finally what answers could suffice for dealing with this problem.
The research question is answered through a series of personal anecdotes in which I examine my position as a black women present in higher educational settings in both the UK and The Netherlands. Based on this classification, I draw on the 'solutions' proposed by the British educational system, that is the implementation of quotas and compare that with current Dutch institutions. Though these anecdotes are contextualised in the UK and in The Netherlands, they reflect a larger effort to decolonise education and the arts worldwide. Furthermore, I rely on texts such as White Innocence by Gloria Wekker, Black Skin White Masks by Franz Fanon and blogposts by Sara Ahmed and by Egbert Alejandro Martina to give a wholistic view of my experiences in a wider context.
I argue for the art institution to position themselves as facilitators of equalising space occupation, and to recognise it’s power to cultivate a culture among its students and staff. My position is rooted in the belief that as a democratic society, everyone must have a fair and equal chance to be present and represented in public space, and by extension education, which operates as public space. The responsibility of the art institution where critical thoughts are shaped and sent out into the world must be more diverse to reflect a multi-cultural and multi-racial reality, rather than an artistic neoliberal elitism.
Edited by Will Pollard
Design, layout and print: Sherida Kuffour
Dimensions: 297mm × 105mm
15 pages printed / 11 pages digital