To start – can I say that Brad Bellegarde is AMAZING. I found his whole talk completely engaging and really powerful. The connections he made with Indigenous culture and Hip Hop are so apparent but did not feel accessible to me until his talk. I snapped a very poor photo of his board because I was drawn in by how he compared cultures and spoke to the fact that culture is not just where we come from and what is associated with that, but it can be the cultures we create and choose to associate with. The way Brad tied the circle of courage into this messaging was also really amazing – his Indigenous culture was seamlessly woven into his pedagogy and it was everything and more than I aspire to in my classroom. You could see and hear Brad’s passion and inspiration shining throughout this entire presentation and it was really beautiful. Brad also gave me hope that it doesn’t need to be perfect – we are all a work in progress and we can have permission to grow and change and let what inspires us, push us to the next level. He also (and he probably didn’t realize it) but he gave me permission to allow negative things to push me forward to – when he was confronted by the reporter at the Olympics and was asked questions that he thought weren’t phrased properly, he took that fire and changed the direction of his life with it. That is such a powerful message…not only for me, but for the kids I teach – they need to know that no matter how much negative there is around them, they need to take that as fuel to do better and be better than those negative things. Brad was so incredibly well spoken that it truly did inspire me to go back to my classroom and tell my kids that they can follow their passions and something good will come of it. It may not be the exact path they planned, it may not be the exact passion they expected, but they can make it work. I’m excited to show my students Brad’s song, “I Remember” and show them that dreams do come true when we hang in there and beat adversity. Not every dream we have will come true, but we can work hard and see where life takes us and be proud of our accomplishments even when they aren’t exactly what we expected.
In the article by Kim Picard, she says, “I was still not convinced about a career in the field of fashion: I was scared.” (p. 59). Although I recognize that we can’t tell kids that they can be whatever they want to be if they just dream it and work hard because that isn’t realistic, however, I think it’s important to fan students passions and have them approach them positively with realism. Picard could have had someone in her corner encouraging her not to be scared and to look at all her options. I think our job as teachers is to encourage and support our students in a safe way. Picard says, “I always found it important to encourage young people to pursue their dreams. This made me realize that I’d put my own childhood dream to the side. That is when I decided to start my own business.” (p. 60).
Kim says, “By studying the patterns, colours and techniques used to make these (the designs of her people) clothes, I gained knowledge that would one day help me to realize one of my dreams: to revive the clothes of my ancestors by giving them a contemporary form.” (p. 62). This quote inspired my final project with my art class for this term. We can use art to bring things unseen to life. I know my students have so much to share about themselves and no outlet – what if we gave them a contemporary form to put it in??? Our lives inspire our art whether we are conscious of it or not. “We all have predilections, depending, I think, on the time of our lives and the things we experience at the present.” (p. 64). Kim says her ultimate goal is to connect the modern world with that of her ancestors – my goal for my final project is to connect my students and I’s outside world, with the one we have going on within. Kim encourages us to “look with the eyes of the heart” (p. 70). and I loved that. We can see and feel with our heart and that is potentially the most incredible part of art. Art (in any form) gives us the ability to see it with so many more facets of ourselves than or eyes. I think it’s important for kids to understand that they can look for inspiration and drive in the positive and negative things they endure and to stick with their passion – even if it turns out to be a hobby in their spare and not their main job. We deserve to do things we love.
I also chose to read the article, “Flipping the Misogynist Script: Gender, Agency, Hip Hop and Music Education” by Evan S. Tobias. As I read through this article one of the main points that jumped out at me was the section on women in Hip Hop. My question, why do we always put or pit women against each other??? “When it comes to females they make it seem like there can be one and they try to put as against each other.” (p. 55). “I already have enough going against me in this game. I don’t need other females also hating.” (p. 55). I struggle to understand why we continue to do this to each other. What is stopping us from enjoying each other, from celebrating each other and for the love of god, just being a little nicer to one another. Later on page Keyes (2002) says, “female rappers perform in ways that refute, deconstruct and reconstruct alternative versions of their identity.” Although Keyes goes on to say that it often appears that women rappers are performing in response to men, it doesn’t account for the other issues they are choosing to portray and the space they create in which to share them it still has me thinking, are we missing out on the true appreciation of the art of women rapping because we are seeing the response to men first? Is that the art form that women rappers would choose if not always having to combat and answer to a male dominated, misogynistic world? It made me think of the conversation we had when Jill and Tessa facilitated, what would art look like if Indigenous people didn’t create artwork for white people or for social justice reasons. I see many parallels here similar to those and similar to the ones that Brad was drawing in his presentation. Rapper Ranking Ann says I am, “critical of the women who just ‘step into the men’s shoes’: all they’re doing is getting into the mic and chatting the typical male lyrics in a women’s voice.” This view indicates a need to move beyond gender norms or expectations within the Hip Hop world.” (p. 56). This point echos that of allowing Indigenous people to step beyond the role of educator, facilitator and make art they love for any reason they choose. Female rappers should feel empowered by the rap community to share their truths and stories in any way they choose and be shown respect. MC Lady Luck says regarding being labeled, “I don’t like being put in a box. I don’t like being called a rapper. I don’t like being called a battle rapper. I don’t like being called Black. I don’t like being called a lesbian. I just want to be Luck…I don’t like a title.” (p. 59). So why we do we label everything?? Is it a need for control? Is it that we can’t accept art for art sake and making decisions because we believe in them? I don’t know. I just know that we need to acknowledge our differences, acknowledge that we all have power and acknowledge that we need to support each other so that we can succeed and be happy however we choose to exist.
Thanks for reading,
“Educating the mind without educating the heart, is no education at all.”