Art Education in the Time of Coronavirus, Reflecting on Today, Anticipating Tomorrow and the Influence of White Supremacy
Dr. Allan Richards, a native of Jamaica, completed post graduate degrees in Mexico and the United States. He taught K-12, undergraduate and graduate students in art, mathematics, biology, and agricultural science before joining the faculty at the University of Kentucky in Lexington. Richards has lived, worked, studied, completed research, taught, and visited 25 countries which continues to influence his research and teaching in Art Education. Funded by a grant from the Alzheimer’s Disease Center at the University of Kentucky, Richards and his colleague’s research focused on improving the quality of life for persons with dementia and their caregivers through learning in the visual arts. His research also focuses on addressing issues of individuals who are deprived of social, political, and economic equality and justice. To build global consciousness and engender a more sustainable international community of fairness, justice, and peace, Allan Richards believes art education is fundamental and a powerful vehicle that engages students to foster and sustain human rights. Global Consciousness through the Arts: A Passport for Students and Teachers (2nd Edition) is his most recent book with Willis, S. (2020).
Title of the conference paper: Art Education in the Time of Coronavirus, Reflecting on Today, Anticipating Tomorrow and the Influence of White Supremacy
In preparing the keynote address for and thinking about the title designated to the Czech Republic InSEA conference, Art Education in the Time of Coronavirus, Reflecting on Today, Anticipating Tomorrow, it raised two principal questions in my mind as it related to COVID—19 pandemic and the protests we have been experiencing in the United States and abroad. Why are Black and Brown people disproportionately infected and killed by the COVID—19 pandemic? While so many Black and Brown people unjustly brutalized and murdered by the police for years, the brutal murder of George Floyd cause an eruption of protests and anger on the streets of the United States and abroad, why? While different, the thread that seems to connect these two situations is racism.
Racism is an attitude of superiority that is developed over hundreds of years and manifests itself into privilege for some people who use this privilege to advance themselves and denigrate Black and Brown people educationally, economically, politically, and socially. A modern multiracial society cannot sustain or advance itself by pretending that racism does not exist because it is perceived not to impact some people. Addressing racism is not about taking from one group to make the other better but to strengthen society so that all its people can thrive equally. Nelson Mandela says, "Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world." My anticipation for tomorrow is to improve the human condition by educating students to recognized racism and how to address it. This is the focus of my presentation for the Czech Republic InSEA conference. In addition, I will discuss pedagogical approaches and strategies to achieve this goal.