A White German-American Man is teaching African American Art and Culture, and I'm mad about it.

Okay, so I know what this sounds like, and no I don't just have a problem with him teaching the class because he's white; Its because there is not a SINGLE WHITE FACE in that class. And I didn't complain to anyone besides my friends, the one classmate that approached me after class, and now, all of you so no harm.

The class is an African-American Art and culture course so it only makes sense that it should be taught by an African-American professor. However, when I saw my teacher I retained hope, maybe he's woke because you have to be to teach African-American Art and culture; it is impossible to separate the political issues surrounding a black person from their art. Many black people, like myself, build their entire identity around black history.  My teacher has even admitted that art and culture are inseparable and African American culture is different from anything else because of the circumstances under which that culture was developed. Which is why there are many different depictions of injustices all throughout African-American art. Almost all of the issues surrounding African-American people currently stems from slavery and from institutionalized slavery being present in our justice system and throughout the government.

The problem with my teacher is that he is timid and too in touch with his white guilt. White guilt is good to a certain degree, but too much of it can make a person afraid to speak bluntly about what happened. Most black college students know how awful life was and still is for the average African-America person and we talk freely about it because that is the only way we can learn our history: research and word of mouth. In college, the courses need to be raw, but believe it or not: my high school ethnic studies class was rawer than this one. 

One thing that has been ever present in our education system is the miseducation of the African- American. Black kids are not properly told their history, so they have to go out and learn it. What they do teach you in school starts and ends with slavery and the civil rights movement. And even that is still the very diluted version. A lot of African American Art is etched with sadness and emotion; almost all of the pieces we view in class are about the past, the pain and the ridicule black people endured. In order to effectively talk about these things you can not be scared or timid, especially not in a class full of black students, and you have to know what you're talking about, because it is likely, that we already know the event the art is referring to.

I'm not sure if it is white teachers or just the way the education system works, but even in this college-level class, he tried to whitewash it. Whitewashing is when you make history less terrible for white people or change the most important people involved into white people. We were looking at several paintings and instead of addressing the painting's subject directly, he pointed out the artist and mention small things about the painting. Example, while looking at a picture of Trayvon Martin and his father the professor only said the piece was a father and son. But it was clearly Trayvon Martin and his father, which is significant because Trayvon Martin became a martyr of the black lives matter movement along with many other unfortunate souls who were victims of injustice. He did not address why Trayvon Martin is important. Then he showed a picture of Ruby Bridges, who was the first child to desegregate schools Brown v. Board of Education. Ruby Bridges was protested her entire year of school by racist white bystanders who would scream obscenities at her, throw tomatoes and other things. Something that a six-year-old should never have to deal with. Instead of mentioning these things, he stated that the tomato the artist painted was to symbolize bloodshed during the civil rights movement. Which could be possible ---but was really the safe thing to say. When you know the events that actually happened you know that it was deeper than that. Those protestors were relentless in their torture of Ruby Bridges. They did anything they could discourage her from going to that all-white school. To me, it seemed that because of his whiteness he wasn't comfortable covering the subject in depth, the way that black students would expect.

 

Even so, if you're woke, and you should be if you're teaching this class, you should know the importance of having black teachers teach classes like this and what that could mean not only for them but also for their students. However, I am aware that this is a perspective course, and these kinds of courses tend to be throwaway courses that the University hands to any willing professor. Our professor could have been the only person willing to accept the job, but if so, my school needs to do better with diversity amongst their professors. They should be treating every course like it matters, because I was very excited for the course until I realized that it was going to be whitewashed.