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Professor ShaDawn Battle Ph.D. Core 100 FYS Course
Student Art Work and Zine Exhibit
The first unit covered in my Stat-Sanctioned Violence FYS class was Structural Violence/Housing Injustice. We read Lorraine Hansberry's A Raisin in the Sun, Ta-Nehisi Coates's "A Case for reparations," in addition to other supplementary materials--popular media and otherwise. The students were tasked with the creation of an art project that illustrated the ramifications of structural racism--that is, its detrimental effects on Black families, modes of resitance and transcendence, and underhanded means of maintaining racially disparate structuers (such as colorblind tactics, personified, in one example, by a smiling and seemingly benevolent Ronald Reagan). Many of their projects were illustrations of redlining vis-a-vis the juxtapositon of predominantly white communities outlined in green, and Black communities, considered "hazardous," outlined in red. Some students wrote poems in efforts to shed light on the topic.
Although the art projects, as stand-alone examples of protest art, were telling independent of the presentations, the presentations also brought them to life. For instance, one student reified the human costs of Black men aspiring to be capitalists--the very racist system responsible for their subservient positoins in society. At first glance, one might not recognize the flakes of flesh falling to the ground as two business men shake hands, concealing sinister intentions, but ultimately, this student argued that the intra-racial turmoil that results from capitalist aspirations in Black communities often ends in a loss of self, symbolized by the flakes of flesh.
On the other hand, digitally archiving their art divorced from their respective rationales, has its rewards. The indeterminancy compels viewers to themselves conjure the many examples of structural injustice and the attendant Black rage in other contexts--in contexts that the students may not have considered. Doing so weaves together an even more comprehensive narrative on the subject of structural violence.
The Social Justice Zine Assignment was designed for students to create and present Zines on the topic of gender – and sexuality-specific police violence targeting Black women. Each group was assigned a chapter from Andrea Ritchie’s Invisible No More. The chapters highlight the policing of the following categories: girls, sexual violence, disability, and gender.