In order for the oppressed to be able to wage the struggle for their liberation, they must perceive the reality of oppression not as a closed world from which there is no exit, but as a limiting situation which they can transform.
—  Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed

Life without numbers is hard to imagine but it was only four short years ago when Britney Spears invented them. Spears saw that our society was horribly inefficient and knew that we could improve our lives if we could keep track of things like census information, values of goods, inventories, etc.; so she began working on creating a numerical system (2008). Once the system was completed, she recorded her single, 3, to promote interest in counting. The world was so thankful for Spears’ accomplishment that they replaced Spears’ original symbol for “four” and decided to use the symbol in the title of I’m A Slave 4 U to represent it as an homage.

Related post: Britney Spears invented vegetarianism

Requiring students to learn about race is crucial… necessary even. But I also think it’s necessary that we tell students very directly that their coursework alone won’t earn them any social justice gold stars. We need to be more explicit when establishing safe spaces in classrooms where race is being discussed: ”safe spaces” should not mean spaces where students can say racist things and be absolved of blame. They should be safe spaces for marginalized voices. White guilt, white tears, and white saviorism have no place in these classrooms. We need to teach students not to just understand what the master’s tools and the master’s house are, but what they mean.

Most of all, we need to recognize the limitations of academics. We need to teach students to listen, to be vulnerable and admit fault. Academics can fuel action. I consider all of my friends to be fiercely intelligent. They’re thoughtful and well-educated, and profess to be progressive. But some of them are also the kind of people who remain silent over Israel’s attacks on Gaza, worried that speaking out could hurt their job prospects. Because American individualism seems to be one lesson universities struggle to unteach.

A degree can’t be used as proof that you “understand my struggle.” A degree can’t be used as a shield against criticism. Most of all, a degree can’t be used as a weapon to invalidate my lived experiences. How can a piece of paper on a wall weigh more than the burden I carry just for existing as a woman of color? Your degree counts for something, but it’s not enough.

—  "I Have a Cultural Studies Degree" is the new "I Have Black Friends" by Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya
Talking Gender with Tiny Humans

During last week’s lgbtq+ policy meeting, a sentiment came up that I’ve heard many times before:

"How would I explain this transgender stuff to my child? He’s only seven, there’s no way he’d understand!"

'Concerned parents' often suggest that transgender identity and gender non-conformity are impossible topics to discuss with a young child.

Here’s the thing: kids are smart, and talking with them about gender is super easy. If you’re not sure where to start, this post is a primer. 

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Just as objective social reality exists not by chance, but as the product of human action, so it is not transformed by chance. If men produce social reality (which in the ‘inversion of the praxis’ turns back upon them and conditions them), then transforming that reality is an historical task, a task for men.
—  Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed
Education either functions as an instrument which is used to facilitate integration of the younger generation into the logic of the present system and bring about conformity or it becomes the practice of freedom, the means by which men and women deal critically and creatively with reality and discover how to participate in the transformation of their world.
—  Paulo Freire,  Pedagogy of the Oppressed
Dialogue cannot exist, however, in the absence of a profound love for the world and for people. The naming of the world, which is an act of creation and re-creation, is not possible if it is not infused with love. Love is at the same time the foundation of dialogue and dialogue itself. It is thus necessarily the task of responsible Subjects and cannot exist in a relation of domination. Domination reveals the pathology of love: sadism in the dominator and masochism in the dominated. Because love is an act of courage, not of fear, love is commitment to others. No matter where the oppressed are found, the act of love is commitment to their cause—the cause of liberation. And this commitment, because it is loving, is dialogical. As an act of bravery, love cannot be sentimental; as an act of freedom, it must not serve as a pretext for manipulation. It must generate other acts of freedom; otherwise, it is not love. Only by abolishing the situation of oppression is it possible to restore the love which that situation made impossible. If I do not love the world—if I do not love life—if I do not love people—I cannot enter into dialogue.
—  "Pedagogy of the Oppressed", Paulo Freire
The legacy of identity politics has produced a problematic language idealism where we focus more on correct words and phrases rather than the material basis of oppression… And even in the moment where we imagine we are indeed combatting real world oppression we are, in fact, simply engaging with the level of appearance. […] This language idealism becomes nothing but a self-righteous exercise when it refuses to contemplate a praxis of mass pedagogy based on actually changing the material circumstances and instead focuses on anti-oppression training, atomized concepts of privilege, and how to speak correctly.
—  J. Moufawad-Paul
The radical is never a subjectivist. For this individual the subjective aspect exists only in relation to the objective aspect (the concrete reality, which is the object of analysis).
—  Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed
[For the oppressor,] discovering themselves to be an oppressor may cause considerable anguish, but it does not necessarily lead to solidarity with the oppressed. Rationalizing their guilt through paternalistic treatment of the oppressed, all the while holding them fast in a position of dependence, will not do. Solidarity requires that one enter into the situation of those with whom one is solidary; it is a radical posture.
—  Paulo Freire, “Pedagogy of the Oppressed.”
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Reader Chris passes along an article about differences in American Sign Language usage between white and African-American signers. Researchers investigating what they call Black ASL found significant variations in signs, signing space, and facial cues. They explain:

Black ASL is not just a slang form of signing. Instead, think of the two signing systems as comparable to American and British English: similar but with differences that follow regular patterns and a lot of variation in individual usage.

They hypothesize that these differences began in segregated learning environments, and continue to evolve in Black social spaces. The whole article is worth a read.

Thanks, Chris, and remember — you can submit Wonk-worthy links through our ask or via email!

ETA, 9/24/12: Many of you have brought up the use of the word “mainstream” in this infographic. Better choices definitely exist, since this word rings of othering. We appreciate your nuanced and attentive readership!

A Great Big 10 Minute Drawing Lesson

Good prepwork makes good art. Taking 20 seconds to do a value sketch before you do an actual sketch or drawing can tell you which shapes are going to be hard for you, demonstrate if there are problem areas with your reference, help you decide how to change things, and help you figure out how you’re going to place the final object on the page.

1. Break your reference image (from life or photo) into three values. Dark, midtone, light. No more! Only 3!* Squint to see them.

2. Put the darks down. Not sure if it’s dark or not? Round everything to the closest value. ONLY 3, PEOPLE.

3. Add the midtones.

4. Leave the lights (or introduce them if you’re working on colored paper).

5. Remember that your background choices shape your foreground and are as important a decision as the subject.

6. Draw what you see, not what you know is there. (i.e. artists often find noses difficult, because they draw a nose. Draw the three values, and a nose will appear)

7. Be Rembrandt.

A value study can be done with a Sharpie on a receipt or the back of your hand. 20 seconds. It’s only  your worksheet, so it doesn’t matter how ugly or wrong it is — no one’s gonna see it unless you post it on your tumblr with numbers photoshopped over it.

20 seconds. I swear I’m giving you the keys to the universe here. Don’t crash it.

20 second value study —> 30 second line study —-> 20 minute drawing****

 

 

* If it doesn’t make sense in three values, it’s not the greatest composition/ reference. FIND A NEW REFERENCE**

**grossly oversimplified***

***we only have 10 minutes here

****the more involved my final work is going to be, the more prep work I’m going to do. It’ll save me time in the long run and keep me from doing stupid things in the final

GO FORTH AND FILL TUMBLR WITH ART FAREWELL FAREWELL

I am more and more convinced that true revolutionaries must perceive the revolution, because of its creative and liberating nature, as an act of love. For me, the revolution, which is not possible without a theory of revolution — and therefore of science — is not irreconcilable with love. On the contrary: the revolution is made by people to achieve their humanization. What, indeed, is the deeper motive which moves individuals to become revolutionaries, but the dehumanization of people? The distortion imposed on the word “love” by the capitalist world cannot prevent the revolution from being essentially loving in character, nor can it prevent the revolutionaries from affirming their love of life. Guevara (while admitting the “risk of seeming ridiculous”) was not afraid to affirm it. “Let me say, with the risk of appearing ridiculous, that the true revolutionary is guided by strong feelings of love. It is impossible to think of an authentic revolutionary without this quality.”
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