Deconstructing Stereotypes: Interrogating Blindspotting and Education

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Written by Tim Jones (@TDJ6899)

On an overcast Monday afternoon to early evening, I found myself alone in a theater watching a movie called “Blindspotting.” The movie is relatively new, so I will do my best to not give it away, but I will reference some of the contexts to give my perspective on the theme that is captured in the movie’s title.  The movie “Blindspotting” is an excellent thought-provoking piece of art that should be seen and discussed across the lines of race, age, educational attainment and cultural identities.  One of the character traits of a great movie to me is one where it makes me self-reflect on my own life’s experiences and or those of my family and people in the various communities that I am connected to, as well as those who I believe, are directly impacted by the themes comprised within the movie.  “Blindspotting” is a movie that met this qualifier in a profound way.

The notion of “Blindspotting” was captured in the movie in many ones but one that stuck out to me was the one where based on an experience you witness involving someone you can no longer see them beyond or more than the experience itself.  Your judgment of who the person is moving forward is viewed through the paradigm of the experience regardless of the history you may have had with the person before the incident or what the individual has done to separate themselves from the incident since.  I began to think about blindspotting on a broader scale where instead of the person it is directed towards a group of people and as opposed to a direct witnessed experience involving the person it is merely a point of view generated by media, culture and historical biases.  Then I began to think about how blindspotting plays out when it is being thrust upon people who are systematically marginalized by people in power.

What happens when a person or a group of people begin to internalize the blindspotting views as their own identities that they then choose to portray as who they are?  How do people who embody various identities get a fair chance at ever being viewed as a uniquely made individual when there are blindspots typed cast upon their various identities (many of which they have no choice in selecting)?  Can a society that thrives on blindspotting ever become a society the provides sincere opportunities for redemption and restoration when mistakes are made by certain members of said society?  As educators and students who are on the verge of beginning a new school year, what are the blindspots that must individually and collectively be addressed to create an ecosystem where optimism replaces pessimism and real sight replaces stereotypes?

These mindsets of blindspotting and stereotyping are not limited to groups of people that don’t look alike or live on different sides of town.  It is not limited to different age groups, professions or educational attainment, blindspotting and stereotyping can take place among people within the same group residing in the same space.  At its worst blindspotting and stereotyping can make one’s inner-me their enemy and people will begin to turn on one another while the true culprit stays out of harm’s way.  Sadly, we cannot deny that there has been a huge monetization around the proliferation of various stereotypical narratives within popular culture that has made some financially wealthy at the expense of the mental, emotional and spiritual wealth of various communities.  This monetization through exaggerated stereotyping and consistent blindspotting has infiltrated our education system to the point where the expectations or in some instances the limitations around student achievement have created spaces where the 21st Century Learning Skills of Creativity, Collaboration, Communication and Creativity (4Cs) have become, Corral, Constrain, Confine and Condemn (-4Cs).

Join the #HipHopEd chat on Twitter by following the hashtag #HipHopEd and @therealhiphoped to join this critical conversation on “Deconstructing Stereotypes: Interrogating Blindspotting and Education” Tuesday, August 7, 2018, from 9:00 pm – 10:00 pm EST.

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