Artwork by Krystal Rodriguez
I’m sure if you’re an educator, you had some unique experiences this week. I saw every emotion under the sun in the last seven days. I had to comfort the crying and quiet the chanting. At our school, the Principal asked us not to talk about the election, which I agree with. I’m sure most parents in my district don’t want their children to hear my political beliefs, and I know more than my fair share of colleagues who I wouldn’t want expressing their beliefs in front of my children. It’s best that educators stick to their course content. Now, I will say, I did supply factual information when my students went off the deep end. The phrase, “the Constitution doesn’t afford the President that power,” was practically my mantra this week.
That being said, I did use this week as an opportunity to discuss the intersection of art and political commentary. I went all the way back to the political cartoons of Honore Daumier. We discussed Jaune Quick-to-See Smith’s criticism of the treatment of native Americans in her work, Trade (Gifts for Trading Land with White People), 1992. Yinka Shonibare’s The Swing (After Fragonard), 2001 was another great work to talk about when race and globalization were on the forefront of my students’ minds. Ai Weiwei, Banksy, and Byron Kim rounded out the conversation. I would have added David Wojnarowicz as well, but we have discussed him at length in the recent past.
However you voted in this election, you have to admit, this whole thing was a mess. The candidates critiqued people instead of policy, which left a lot of Americans feeling disenchanted and insulted. It’s easier to hear that people disagree with your opinions about the best path forward for our economy than it is to hear that people disagree with the way you exist. People on both sides felt attacked. I can’t solve that, so I did the best I could. When the electoral process hands you lemons…