Notes on: Sions, H., Wolfgang,  (2021). Looking Back, Looking Forward: Resisting the White Gaze in Historical Narratives and Future Possibilities of Art Education The Journal of Social Theory in Art Education 41

They find them selves unable to situate themselves in art education in the past because the histories and narratives of art education and the curricula are those 'of the victor' (82), inside 'the margin of the White supremacist patriarchy'. They want to resist 'the White gaze' they begin with CRT and use it to criticise multicultural efforts in art education and provide examples of artists who have resisted the White gaze and possibilities of resisting it.

In 2020 there was a lot of antiracist material on social media, including work on  allyship by BIPOC toward Black people. The authors are situated in southern USA and were encouraged by this public reckoning with systemic racism. They are not encouraged by art education, its past and curricula. They acknowledge their own subjectivities — there are a 'cisgendered heterosexual Asian, neurodivergent woman of colour' and a 'cis gender, gay/queer White woman' respectively. They have no direct experience of antiBlack racism but they can see that antiracist pedagogy is important.

CRT shows the connection between racism and other forms of White supremacy like class, patriarch, homophobia, it shows its roots in the American legal system. They acknowledge that race is socially defined, that it operates through micro-aggressions as well as overt forms, that it is ubiquitous, that CRT is interdisciplinary, emphasises counter narratives in qualitative research and wants to disrupt the notion of objectivity. Apparently it 'pragmatically recognises that the fight against racial inequalities must be in alignment with White interest' (84) [rather pragmatic interpretation of convergence], that dismantling racism has to be tolerable to Whiteness, [so this flawed misunderstanding led to?] hence multicultural efforts in education.

Multicultural education credits African-American scholars including Dubois and others and help make them visible. Intergroup education emerged partly after World War II. New cities produced racial tensions and eventual riots with intergroup education as an answer, but it was only seen as important in racially diverse schools. Civil rights tried to get implemented in all schools. There are demands for more Black teachers, positive representations of Black life in curriculum and textbooks, some response to Black underachievement. All this led to multicultural education, but 'from the beginning, however, Whiteness derailed the efficiency of multicultural education' (85) and the existing curriculum is not changed, but only had multicultural content added to it. There is still a framework of Whiteness.

In multicultural art multicultural texts were analysed, focusing on teaching the culturally different, looking at human relations or particular groups, Social Reconstructionist education [and others I don't recognise]. particular frameworks are discussed. Some seem to have had in mind acculturation or assimilation, bicultural educational cross-cultural research, cultural separatism, social reconstruction, multicultural education, cultural understanding. All these centred Whiteness and did not address inequities or discrimination. They were colourblind and avoided discussing race explicitly. Early critics emphasised the gap between BIPOC students and White teachers.

Banks [who does a lot of work] argued for more radical change, more thorough integration of different cultures throughout the curricula, understanding how cultures influence knowledge, the identification of racial biases and the importance of inequitable social structures, and providing diverse teaching practices. Ladson Billings talked about 'Culturally Relevant Pedagogy' changing the emphasis on BIPOC students from deficits to making valuable diverse contributions. Art education did not seem to follow this challenge and remained with multicultural art practices 'that simplified cultures… Misinterpreted artwork through a western lens' (86). Critique led to more of an interest in social justice and a suitable pedagogy that recognised marginalisation and inequality, and focused on intersectionality.

Antiracist education by contrast recognise the social effects of race and understood it as an intersectional matter; challenged White power and privilege; discussed marginalisation and how it was perpetuated; demanded that education should be holistic covering social cultural political and spiritual aspects, focusing on identity; should identify and confront challenges to diversity and show how education marginalises and dismisses students. Finally, it should 'connect and contextualise students lived experiences into curriculum, as their lives cannot be separated from the education' [all based on Dei 1996] (87). Existing curriculum was seen as particularly impressive and exclusionary. Education had to positively centre antiracism as a goal

However, that would require 'honest conversations about (systemic) racism' according to Kendi (88) [well a bit of thorough analysis would be useful first]. 'Many practitioners… Seem stuck in a very limited and superficial notions [sic] of culture"' [Ladson Billings 2014] [couldn't agree more] and Crenshaw also complains that intersectionality has not been properly understood.

[Nevertheless] the BLM movement in 2020 focused on antiracist education and how to educate White individuals and this inspired the authors to see how popular antiracism still took the centre of the debate, often in the form of wokeness and White experiences of it. They saw few implications for art education. CRT argues that 'change cannot happen without White individuals intentionally giving up their power' [which seems to contradict what they said before about convergence], which is more than just an abstract agreement. In particular they need to commit to unlearning pedagogy is and curricula and building new knowledge that will go towards justice in teaching and learning, to undo racism in art education.

[Then they switch to a short counter narrative] Sions saw few conversations about antiracism, while the media perpetuated the false narrative that BLM was decelerating. Wolfgang wanted to investigate her own past and current complicity in systems that upheld White supremacy.

They conclude that they must incorporate futures that centre historically relegated voices and that there is now a new (art ed) journal to do so. It covered teaching after BLM, discussed new methods of assessment and 'an empathetic curriculum that allows student reflection' specifically engaged art, a proposal involving 'reimagining art education through an Afrofuturistic lens, giving "Black students the agency to actively create their existence in futures"', to counter the 'mass erasure of Black experience' (89). Other journals have explored the role of Whiteness and its power and influence.

Toni Morrison has spent her life making sure the White gaze was not dominant in her books, which seems to mean making 'the assumption that the reader or audience isn't (primarily) White' (90). This turns on how we teach, 'to unlearn teaching for the White gaze'. Wolfgang has witnessed people at her university talking about decolonisation and she attended a workshop, although there was work intensification, partly due to Covid and related budget cuts. This shifted decolonisation to teaching faculty, without acknowledging an institutional role, raising suspicions that decolonisation is only a metaphor, indeed, '"an empty signifier"'. [There is also something called 'abolitionist teaching' which seems to be something to do with 'boycotting and protesting; calling out racism, homophobia and Islamophobia; centring Black joy and love in pedagogy']. The authors think this is tokenism, at best an initial way of dislocating the White gaze.

They mean instead systems that uphold power structures that benefit White students, assuming a White audience when developing pedagogies and epistemologies which preserves White supremacy and damage all students especially BIPOC ones. Wolfgang acknowledges that preparation to become a teacher 'did not include perspectives that decentred White experience' nor has her personal experience, so she realises that they have a particular duty to audit their materials and teaching practices.

This should lead them to reconsider the content of curricula, but not go for multicultural ones which Whitewash diverse cultures. Instead they should encourage 'deep personal engagement'. Popular culture often offers good examples, including songs like those by Solange Knowles, Lizzo or Beyoncé [lyrics quoted]:

“[I]FUBU Imade this song to make it all y’alls turn / for us, this shit is from us / get so much from us / then forget us.” Her most recent album, When I Get Home, continues her message of Black solidarity through her lyrics: “Black skin, Black braids / Black waves, Black days / Black baes, Black things / these are Blackowned things / Black faith still can’t be washed away” (2019).
“I was born like this, don’t even gotta try / I’m like chardonnay, get better over time / heard you say I’m not the baddest, bitch, you lied.”
“Brown skin girl / your skin just like pearls / the best thing in the world / never trade you for anybody else.”

There is Black Panther, which 'highlights African cultures to imagine a world without Settler colonisation', while 'Nalgona Positivity Pride is rooted in Xicana Indigenous feminism and DIY punk culture'.

Wolfgang says that students need White teachers to say that they value BIPOC artists and their narratives, and acknowledge Whiteness in their own education, try to 'actively unlearn harmful norms' and introduce artists who 'push back on norms of Whiteness, Eurocentrism, heterocentrism, able-ism and other systems of oppression' and to include those topics in art education. They suggest some artists to include — Simon Leigh, Kerry James Marshall, Osborne Macharia, Zaneli Muholi, Wendy Red Star, a member of the Crow tribe, Richard Bell, an aboriginal Australian multimedia artist and activist. There are also criticisms of Beyoncé as avoiding disruption of Whiteness, or the Broadway hit Hamilton which did not address the history of Alexander Hamilton as a slaver.

They recommend involving collaborative syllabus writing and contract grading [especially Wolfgang] because this disrupts methods that privilege White values and top-down rules. She likes participate are conduct codes and welcomes frequent feedback including an anonymous online survey. Sions also made 'modality adjustments within reason' (93).

Generally, there is always a power dynamic between teachers and students this has to be acknowledged and mitigated. Wolfgang encourages teachers to 'practice transparency and humility with their students' not claiming to know everything, not grounding everything on 'White centred experience'. There might even be a role for contracts of expectation signed by instructors as well as students. Generally we should operate with transparency and fairness as far as possible. Generally flexibility is a good idea, assignments can be modified, have flexible due dates, we can respond to student feedback and we can rethink penalties for late work, drawing on Foucault reminding us that power disguises itself an institutional language — Wolfgang challenges imperatives for penalising late work, for example, while Sions is very generous with extenuating circumstances.

They have both reconsidered the model of the good student, for example why attendance or being on time is important, whether multiple modes of engagement are to be encouraged, why Black and brown students might experience them as violence. The goal is a more meaningful and just arts education, and dislocating the White gaze is a step towards this, so we need to consider which pedagogical practices are most affected by Whites cultural expectations.

They still believe that racism is not indestructible, and the election of Biden is an example that mitigated some of the fears and encouraged hopes that 'the horizon burns bright with justice. And that art educators will take up the mantle of radical justice moving forward' (95)

[Absolutely massive list of references]