I found the issues explored this week were very closely aligned to my own passionate belief in equality and fairness. It is also very interesting to me personally as a mature student to note that that concepts around equality and fairness were regarded as in some way subversive or counter-cultural when I was growing up: “Gay” was a pejorative term, people of colour were routinely referred to in what would now be considered obscene language in polite company, and so on. Standard child rearing practice involved the constant threat of violence and use of one’s dialect was a punishable offence in school.
It may sound like I grew up in the Victorian era, but I am only 36 years old. I point this out only to reflect on how incredibly far we as a society have come in such a short space of time – it genuinely fills my heart with joy and hope for the future when I find what were somehow marginal concepts becoming accepted by the mainstream. The younger students in our year have grown up against a pluralist background where cultural/gender/ecological diversity is the norm, thanks in part to digital technology, and I believe it is beholden upon us all to not take this for granted and continue to strive for democracy and social justice.
I have always found that discrimination was basically about maintaining a social order which protected vested interests which were, to quote Diane Abbott, “male, pale and stale”. I felt growing up that I had very little franchise in this social order and quickly adopted counter cultural role models. I present here a VERY short list of some bands, movies etc that had a huge influence on my worldview not to show off my exquisite taste (!) but in the hopes that someone else may find these things interesting/inspirational. Oh, and remember, there was no google back then so these things were arrived at through scrutinising liner notes and books and speaking to actual people!
Riot Grrrl Feminist punk culture – Bikini Kill, Le Tigre etc
Straightedge/skate punk culture – Fugazi – amazing DIY anti corporate band, DOA “Guilty of Being White”, Dead Kennedys “Nazi Punks F*ck Off” etc etc
Spike Lee movies Bamboozled etc
Ghost World – comic book and movie
Public Enemy, Fishbone, Living Colour, Rage Against The Machine, Beastie Boys – amazing rockin’ bands full of social commentary and good people who practice what they preach
John Coltrane, Charlie Mingus – jazz pioneers and 2nd wave black intellectuals – as Derek pointed out don’t fear the Jazz!! – it “is America’s one true original art form”
Blues players Robert Johnson, Leadbelly etc
And, just to drop in something remotely up to date, watch the stunning Hulu’s Handmaid’s Tale, or go one better and read Margaret Atwood’s book!
As we seem to be heading in to some pretty dubious territory politically with the rise of the right and various populist movements I believe there is no room for complacency and it is our duty as teachers to nurture and promote these values and defend our hard-won freedoms. 😃