School of White Fragility by Austin Roch
In May 2020, the death of George Floyd set in motion an unprecedented shift in public consciousness around systemic racism in the United States. Spearheaded by #BlackLivesMatter, mass demonstrations and public conversation around ongoing injustice, our shared histories, complacency and ignorance.
The demonstrations sparked an intense backlash and hatred within those unwilling to accept that the United States is not a perfect bastion of freedom for all its citizens. Part of this fear mongering came as an attack against public school teachers in the form of over 500 pieces of legislation aiming to ban the discussion of race (Critical Race Theory, CRT) and/or gender in public K-12 schools, many of which have been passed (https://crtforward.law.ucla.edu/). In addition, over 1,500 book titles containing race-related or LGBTQIA+ information were banned in public schools.
At the center of the argument is that teaching about race is seen as “too divisive”. White students should not have to come to terms with the feeling of “guilt” that comes with recognizing the unfair treatment of people of color did not end over 150 years ago with the abolition of slavery. This censorship maintains the status quo in order to not challenge the ideals of American exceptionalism.
By visualizing this data, I aimed to draw attention to the severity of censorship and control occurring in the American public school system. The banning of race and gender-related content is an alarming step in a dangerous direction, affecting millions of our children and their freedom of knowledge, thought, expression, and identity.
Tools: digital mockups, projection, Dremel, and acetone transfer
Materials: ink, marker, and pencil on desk and chalkboard pens on chalkboard