This article was first published as a chapter in the NAEA publication Art, Culture, and Ethnicity. It's one of the hardest and one of the easiest things I've ever written. Easiest because it didn't involve research as it's based on reflecting on my own history as a student/artist/teacher/culture maker growing up in the "inner city" of St. Louis and then moving to Chicago as a young teacher. It was the hardest thing I've written because in wanting to share with emerging teachers my own journey toward greater cultural awareness I had to recall and recount how "unknowing" I have sometimes been in the past. When I felt shaky about sharing some of these stories, I reminded myself that the intent of this article is to encourage commitment to openness, self-reflection and change.
.... I am an artist teacher educator preparing university students of many different races and backgrounds to teach in diverse urban settings. I attempt to share with them a sense of how they can de-center themselves and become more aware of the many different perspectives from which people view the world, live their lives, make choices, make art. My goal is to challenge these bright and creative young teachers to remain certain of their vocations to teach while becoming increasingly uncertain about the cultural position from which they will teach.
For a pdf of the complete text of