Racism and sexism in art education: a subjective mapping

Door Ilse Ghekiere, op Mon Oct 21 2019 22:00:00 GMT+0000

Higher art education offers students a challenging and safe environment in which they freely develop their artistic visions and capacities. At least that's the idea. In practice, Flemish art schools still struggle with many forms of sexism and racism daily. This is evidenced by testimonies that Anissa Boujdaini and Ilse Ghekiere collected among students and teachers at various schools in recent months.

Lees hier de Nederlandse versie

‘With one teacher I had a real difficult period. Before one of my exams in the first year, the teacher came into the room and said to all the students: “I am not sure if the school regulations say something about wearing a headscarf during exams.” I was shocked. What did he mean, I had always worn my hijab, we were linked to the university and it was never a problem before. He started researching the website of the school and by doing this, delayed the exam with 15 minutes. He thought I could be hiding an earpiece. I told him that he could check if he wanted to, which made everyone laugh. It was totally ridiculous and I understood why my fellow students were laughing. But if they didn’t agree, why didn’t anyone stand up for me at that moment?’

Subjective Mapping is an open research method that attempts to map sexism and racism in art education by recording personal experiences, observations, and reflections. As an emperical methodology that sees personal experience as knowledge, it is inspired by feminist and post-colonial writers such as Grada Kilomba and Sara Ahmed.

Even though it’s more than evident that students have very different experiences depending on their backgrounds and the art education they follow, we want to lay out a series of recurring issues that are present in art education at large, and in Flanders and Brussels specifically.

The conversations include fields of study such as film, music, theatre, dance, design, architecture, and visual arts.

For this, we used 15 testimonies from the Engagement Archive relating to education, some with stories dating back to the nineties. We also conducted 18 interviews, including three group conversations, with people who are either still involved in art education or who have recently graduated.

We spoke to students as well as several teachers and one ombudswoman, and discussed the patriarchal and racist mechanisms that are at play today. Even though the research doesn’t cover all areas of art education, the conversations include fields of study such as film, music, theatre, dance, design, architecture, and visual arts.

In this context, we see Subjective Mapping as a possible methodology with which to conduct further research and to inspire a much-needed conversation on how racism and sexism affect the learning environment and the trajectory of individual students.

Freedom versus boundaries

'The first year of art academy was like breathing: you get to know people with the same interests, you spend time in cafés talking to fellow students and teachers about books, films, politics, the art that you are making,... Sometimes these were nightly discussions, and yes, often with quite some alcohol. It felt like freedom. Yet, this freedom came with a deeply sexist culture. As a female student I can give countless examples of sexist comments and harassment by teachers. I’m not saying that those teachers were terrible humans, but a lot of this behaviour was just not normal. You are so fragile when you start an art education. I worked very hard those years, because I constantly felt like I had to prove myself. Maybe this sounds positive, but is this a way to motivate people? When graduating, we [the female students] thought “this has made us hard”. But hard for what? A sexist world with the academy as your boot camp?’

Traditionally, art education is associated with openness, progressive thinking, a more libertine lifestyle, or as the student above describes it: ‘freedom’. Most of the students we spoke with were fairly positive towards the more intimate and less formal approach to teaching that arts education often has.

However, it is precisely the idea of the art world as somehow more 'proggressive' that makes it so difficult for students to speak up about (what is in actual fact) discrimination or harassment. It is also the reason why the degree of racism or sexism in certain experiences only become apparent in retrospect.

(c) Elsa B. Mason

‘In 1995, [as part of my education] I did an internship at one of the biggest musical companies as an understudy of the female lead. The director asked me in the first week: “do you have a boyfriend?” I said “yes”. He said: “I have a girlfriend, too, but that doesn’t matter, does it?” Later, he asked several times whether we could go for diner. At one point, I felt like it was impossible to say no anymore. When we arranged a date, I asked a group of friends to join. Entering the restaurant, the directors face turned green. The next day I was called to the head of the company and I was told that they had decided to take someone else for the understudy. I asked the male understudy whether he knew why I all of a sudden didn’t have the understudy anymore. He said: “you want the truth? You didn’t sleep with him.”’

Where should we start? The testimonies from the Engagement Archive show that examples of sexism and harassment are numerous and repetitive. Especially in theatre, the blatant stereotyping of female students and how they should act ‘as women’ is a deeply rooted tradition.

One testimony from 2004 describes an audition to enter a performance program in which all the young women were asked to line up in front of one of the men, who was seated in a chair. One after another, each woman had to walk up to the man and recite a love poem, and try to convince him that they were in love with him. Encouraged by his teachers (two prominent actors), the man then cast his judgement. The reversal of roles never happened.

Similarly, when a female student in another theatre school refused to perform the cliché role of the seductive, flirtatious girl she was told that she wasn’t a ‘real woman’ and that she had failed the course.

But even teachers, especially those who are young women, have shared deeply disturbing sexist comments by colleagues or superiors: comments about how they ‘need to get lai’ because they were ‘not smiling’, women who are told they should be happy with their jobs, especially at their age, women who receive denigrating comments about how they look, women who are asked inappropriate questions about their sex lives, women who are reminded they’d be better of if they’d shut up...

The list of belittling and denigrating remarks is long and only shows once again how deeply a culture of misogyny thrives wherever you look in society, including in art education.

Change is not an on/off-switch

Similar mechanisms came back in an interview with a male artist of color who began his theatre education in 2005. Back then, he didn’t have the concepts to explain the racist mechanisms he was subjected to during his theatre education.

Implicit discrimination and hidden mechanisms of exclusion are much harder to address.

Today, he remembers how he repeatedly ended up playing ‘the role of the immigrant’, how he was harassed by one teacher for not wanting to cut his curly hair and how racist jokes were everyday entertainment among the teachers and other students. When he brought texts that inspired him to the class, the teacher said: ‘We don’t play migrant theatre here’.

Blunt racism or sexism might be on the wane during the last decade, but implicit discrimination and hidden mechanisms of exclusion are much harder to address, while their effect is just as harmful and lasting. Or as one teacher explains: ‘I am not saying that my colleagues are intentionally racist, but they don’t acknowledge that many aspects of our education propagate racist ideas. When you address that people might be racially biased, they take it very personally.

Another teachers affirms that the topic of feminism and de-colonialism has gained ground over the past couple of years, but also points to a current backlash against political correctness, as if it was alright to talk about it for a while, but that a limit has been reached now.

Teachers who are concerned with these issues describe feeling singled out while facing arguments from colleagues saying the discussion ‘creates conflicts between students’ and disturbs ‘the good atmosphere.’ Expressions of annoyance by fellow white students in the line of ‘but we are not allowed to say anything anymore’, come up in many of the interviews.

One teacher said to a group of female students who had been asking critical questions: ‘Today no feminist shit, ok?

Such comments are deeply problematic because they turn the focus of attention towards the people who should consider their own behaviour, instead of towards the people who suffer from it. The willingness of the dominant group to fight against oppressive discourse seems to have an on/off-switch: ‘on’ when convenient and not too demanding, ‘off’ when too confrontational. Or as one teacher said to a group of female students who had been asking critical questions: ‘Today no feminist shit, ok?

Still too many white men in front of the class

‘The teacher body is exclusively white. When this is mentioned at a meeting, you often hear: “but we don’t know who we should invite.” There is also the concern of “not wanting to compromise the quality of the programme.” And even when there is an idea to hire a teacher with another profile, it often focuses on just one voice of colour.’

‘During an open conversation with the head of the programme about how we can improve the education, I asked a question about quota as the course is still very male dominated. The answer I got was that there were many homosexual men on the team so it already included feminine perspectives. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. They had come up with the strangest logic to not have to hire women.’

However you turn it around, if we look at who has access to art education, it is still a homogenous group. Even if gender ratios in the faculties of several art schools have improved, there’s a recurring lack of female teachers in certain disciplines, theatre and film among them. Or as a female film student says: ‘I am just tired of talking about my work with only men’. It’s also interesting to note that the sexist and homophobic idea that gay men are ‘half women’ comes up in several interviews.

A series of lectures on ‘ecofeminism’, ‘de-colonialism’ and ‘capitalism’ were all given by white men.

In some art programs, theory courses in particular still seem to be dominated by male teachers of similar profile in terms of identity and the content they offer. ‘Quality’, says one teacher, ‘is equated with expectations in terms of the content of classes and then somehow you end up with teachers who literally look alike.'

But even when the need for new topics in a program becomes urgent, that doesn’t mean theory is changing its looks. A telling example is the school in which a series of lectures on ‘ecofeminism’, ‘de-colonialism’ and ‘capitalism’ were all given by white men.

(c) Elsa B. Mason

Students also point to the precarious employment structure, differentiating tenured teachers from guest teachers and teachers who only work part time. They note that the latter group might include some teachers with different backgrounds, but emphasize that their limited contracts don't give them leverage or power to challenge the program on a structural level without risking their job.

'On our first day, it was clear that I was the only non-white Belgian in the auditorium and the teacher said: “It is very important to us to see how diverse the audience is today”...but I was truly the only one! Later another teacher said: you are the first Moroccan girl that I have in my class.'

When more people of colour enter the building, schools are quick to take credit for it, often with public self-congratulating comments about the hard work the school is doing in the name of diversity. Not only is this insensitive and ignorant but it is also a form of tokenism. As one student put it: ‘Sometimes it feels strange when our school propagates to be ‘multicultural’. If the teachers are still mainly white and male, you cannot expect the education to be diverse – even if there are a couple of students of colour.'

Attempts to challenge or problematize the homogeneity of several educations appear mostly superficial, while efficient measures such as quotas are generally considered ‘too ideological’ and ‘too dogmatic’.

Many students describe how the western, white, male canon remains the cornerstone of their education.

One teacher who wanted a 50/50 quota of women and people of colour for an event she was organising, tells us how her colleagues reacted by saying they were afraid this would lead to ‘terrible consequences of discrimination of white men’. She concludes: ‘It was telling how the present, daily discrimination of women and people of colour was not so urgent to them. Instead they worried about the future of an imaginary discrimination of white men.'

Elsewhere a group of students in one program asked why gender and race were not urgent topics in the curriculum, the directors replied by saying that the education had to be ‘neutral instead of politicized.’ But what is meant by ‘neutral’ in this (or, for that matter, in any) context?

When efforts are made by the institution to, for instance, organise lectures on de-colonialism or feminism, they are mostly offered as extracurricular activities, attracting mainly the teachers and students who are already interested, failing to reach the audience that might need it the most. As one teacher says, ‘Colleagues who would actually benefit from these talks and events, they don’t come. The logic goes that that their work doesn’t deal with questions of racism and oppression, and so it is not “for them”, because it is not “about” them.

Work on the curriculum

‘When I told my teacher, “Nothing triggers me, nothing interests me in those texts,” I thought that he understood me, that he was open towards my comment [as a black female student]. When one of my fellow students kept on insisting on how problematic this situation was, his answer was: “But you can also take some initiative and bring some women writers”. The finger was now pointed to us. Then I realized: he doesn’t get it.’

The homogeneity of people involved in arts education is further reflected in the curriculum and the canon. Many students describe how the western, white, male canon remains the cornerstone of their education and is taught as ‘universal’ but that they have a hard time relating to it as such.

‘The idea of what art is and can be, is actually quite narrow.’

A couple of teachers mention a few hesitant attempts at opening up the curriculum and frame of references, but say it’s still not far enough reaching. A student of color remembers the teacher during the first year of architecture saying: ‘We just don’t have enough time to talk about other countries and their architects.’

Reasons of lack of time and money will not be unfamiliar to many students and teachers, but the obstacles can also be personal in nature. Some students in theatre recall how a male teacher admitted that it was difficult to dig into something that he doesn’t really know anything about. One of the students concluded humorously: ‘He was basically saying that he feels that he has more in common with a man during the interbellum than a woman today.

Even when students, on their own initiative, search for references that are closer to their interests and realities, they quickly notice that the school library is in itself a limited resource. ‘The idea of what art is and can be, is actually quite narrow,’ says one student. Other students describe how, as a result, everyone’s work looks very similar. Or as one teacher sees it: ‘Everything starts with a frame of reference, but students also infect each other and also among students there is not much ‘out of the box’-thinking. That is not their fault, and as a teacher it is your responsibility to break that canon open’.

(White) ignorance

‘A couple of my fellow students were Iranian. When they arrived, the school was so excited to tell them that they could hook them up with some ‘other Arabic speaking artists who lived in Belgium’. This misconception that ‘people from Iran speak Arabic’ was mentioned again when we were on a trip. We were looking for a place to eat and went to a falafel-place. One of the staff members from the school who had joined us said: “Oh, now you can speak in your own language!”.’

If students of colour remain tokens for the window display of a school’s diversity, nothing will change. Being a minority in a body of students can not only feel excluding and alienating, it might also mean having to put up with ignorant and exotifying comments.

Ignorance can exist alongside supposed ‘good intentions’, yet some examples reveal how ‘good intentions’ have a no less racist effect. The ‘proto question’ for dealing with otherness, often asked a student of colour by a teacher, is ‘where do you come from?’. When the student answers by naming the European city where here or she was born, the teacher will insist: ‘No, I mean, where do you really come from?’. Or someone’s otherness gets highlighted under the pretense of a compliment: ‘You know our culture so well, better than our “own” students!’.

The director referred to the schools’ program as ‘adventurous’ after having invited two non-white guest teachers.

Another student of colour tells how the director referred to the schools’ program as ‘adventurous’ after having invited two non-white guest teachers. The word might not have been intended to insult, but nevertheless stuck in the students mind with highly problematic historical connotations around the exotification of ‘otherness’.

In another school, a teacher suggested an international artist to be part of the final jury after she objected to the all-white evaluation team proposed, prompting a colleague to ask: “O, is he black? Is your friend black?”. Later, the international artist was referred to as the teacher’s ‘black friend’.

Racial harassment

‘I had a strange experience during my internship. In the teacher’s room, a teacher started a conversation and fired off all kind of stereotypical ideas: “I see, you are Moroccan. And how is it there in Morocco? Do you have a lot of these IS-people in Morocco? Why is it that there you take off your headscarf on TV, but here you leave them on?’

‘Unintentionally’ racist comments can fuel intimidating dynamics that become intentionally harmful. In the interviews the examples of racial harassment ranges in nature from unequal treatment, to microaggressions to bullying. One teacher tells how all Asian students in the school are referred to as ‘those Chinese’. Similarly, Islamophobic harassment reoccurs in many of the interviews.

Students with Muslim background are rarely surprised to hear teachers casually use the word 'terrorism' in relation to the student’s cultural background or work. Two students tell how they were even asked about their ‘views on terrorism’ during their admission interviews.

'There seems to be a link between sex and success. Performing yourself as a sexual being seems to increase your opportunities.'

Incidents that point towards Islamophobia often come from teachers who, according to some students, seem obsessed with their own ideas of atheism as something progressive. One student who wears a hijab explains how one of her teachers, every time he spoke about religion, would stare at her, or try to provoke her by ‘inviting her for discussion’.

In another interview, a student who spoke about her mother’s religious beliefs during class, felt that this resulted in her mother being portrayed by the teacher as a person lacking in intelligence. The teacher would then go on to brag about having read the Bible, the Torah and the Quran and was therefore able to assure the class that religion was ‘bullshit’.

A student who witnessed the incident adds: ‘As if the macho-statement “I have read this, so I have knowledge” is enough of an argument to entirely break down any form of religion. The scary thing is that half of the class just nods their heads and believes whatever he says.

Sexual harassment

The most common way that sexual harassment would happen appears throughout the interviews to be via text messages sent mostly by male teachers to students. ‘Since #metoo, you notice how teachers are much more careful,’ says one student, comparing her current experience to her first years at theatre school. What used to pass as innocent flirting is now generally perceived as boundary crossing.

Unsurprisingly, fields like theatre and dance are more susceptible to verbal or physical sexual transgressive behaviour as the body and subjectivity of the student are intrinsically connected with the art form itself. Expanding one’s zone of comfort can become quite literal, or as one dance student puts it: ‘There seems to be a link between sex and success. Performing yourself as a sexual being or emphasizing your sexuality seems to increase your opportunities.

‘Sensitive students, the ones who are often the most vulnerable, are somewhat looked down on.'

During some physical workshops it will not always be clear if an interest in sexuality or related topics is part of the teacher's artistic research or part of a more ‘personal interest’. In several interviews theatre and dance students say they feel awkwarldly encouraged by certain teachers to experiment with nudity.

The problem they say is not the nudity itself (as it can be liberating to try things out during education), but the lack of communication and conversation around it. Some students describe it as having random, supposedly transgressive artistic practices being dropped on them without receiving much in-depth information: ‘as if we were guinea pigs’.

When students address this as problematic, the answer they are often met with is that in the professional field there is no time for discussing ‘personal questions of discomfort’. Professionality is used against students who find the courage to address issues. Or as one student says: ‘They basically teach you that indifference is the best tool to have as a performer. You need to be open, naïve and ready for anything.

Feedback on feedback

The ombudswoman we spoke with said that complaints about grades and audition admittance have recently become ‘very popular’. This might come as no surprise as evaluations in art education were described by many students as too subjective and personal, lacking any sort of objective framework or transparency. In comparison to a regular university, arts teachers mostly have a closer relationship to their students – a proximity that can be both beneficial and not. Additionally, grades are generally quite low and not a strong source of motivation.

Feedback and moments for evaluation therefore become crucial to the development of a student’s work. But as one teacher observes: ‘I notice how there is still a tendency to shape the students too much. This is often in accordance with the projections that one or more teachers have in mind. Even if this is mostly done with good intentions, you see how racist and sexist biases slip into these projections.

(c) Elsa B. Mason

Many students in performing arts express annoyance at still being evaluated by their looks. Being told that you are ‘nice to look at’, or ‘have a torso like a plank’ is not only inappropriate as far as commenting is concerned in the context of professional teacher-student relationships, it is also useless in terms of informative value to the student.

A clear example of sexist stereotyping during an evaluation moment came from a student in music. Being a smaller than average woman who plays the contrabass – a large instrument more often associated with male musicians – she regularly bumps up against prejudice. During an evaluation she was told by an external jury member, ‘your bass is too small, you are too small, you will never make it in the industry’. Nothing was said about her performance.

Students of color describe how the subjectivity of evaluations seems to affect them more than white students.

Unfortunately, a lot of teacher to student feedback seems based in the old idea that first breaking the student to pieces is a necessary step before further personal and artistic growth. A student who objected to rude feedback from one of her teachers was screamed at in return and consequently failed the course. Many students have experienced certain evaluations as some kind of ‘personality screening’ full of confusing psychological messages that would haunt them until after they left school. One student described this process as traumatizing and said it made her want to quit arts altogether.

According to one teacher this trauma-effect doesn’t seem to be problematized by the school: ‘Sensitive students, the ones who are often the most vulnerable and more frequently may find themselves in precarious situations, are somewhat looked down on. One of our students of color, who already has a hard time at our school, often gets labelled as ‘a complainer’, ‘stubborn’, ‘someone who doesn’t want to be part of the group’. There seems to be an idea that students should be resilient and positive individuals who want to fit in.

‘There are students of color whose work is repeatedly referred to as “ethnic”, “exotic”, or “a migration story”. If one teacher says “migration story”, other teachers repeat it. But it’s not because there are non-Western elements in someone’s work, that it should immediately be read as a migration story. A plant pot from Syria is as much of “a plant pot” as is a plant pot from Belgium. It can also be spoken of as “a plant pot”. Of course some students’ work is also about their background, but if it’s only seen as a migration story, the feedback doesn’t get them anywhere. The critique sometimes flips the other way around: “aren’t you worried that it [the work] is too exotic for other [white] people to understand.” And then the universalism comes in: “O, well, if your work is just about a plant pot, why don’t we take all the decorations away and turn it into an Ikea-pot, so that people [a white audience] will get it.” If the teacher’s approach is: “What do you want to communicate, let me tell you how you have to communicate it”, it becomes a really flat conversation that never goes anywhere. These students: they can never win.’

Students of color describe how the subjectivity of evaluations seems to affect them more than white students because of the constant assumptive framing of their identities. On the one hand, teachers are very encouraging these days when students use their backgrounds as a source of inspiration for their work. On the other hand, encouragement can easily turn into expectation and even a feeling of obligation for the student. Meanwhile, some of these students have to put up with contradictory messages while being given labels that ‘other’ them in ways that are not only confusing, but harmful. It becomes a Catch-22: the work is either ‘too exotic’ or ‘not exotic enough’.

'There are few to no institutional tools designed to navigate situations of conflict.’

Encouragement to ‘other’ the work become therefore deeply troublesome, given that the work made by this specific group of students is mostly nourished by what the education offers: a white and Western frame work. Besides, most of these students are as much Belgian or European as anything else. What is lacking in many art educations is precisely the attention towards the changing demographics in this country and the complexity that this brings to the understanding of what cultural identity means.

Similarly, a teacher notes how a queer student who works with gay pornography is often advised not to limit himself: ‘But why can’t a student’s work be a niche without the straight references? They are basically saying: “You can be more than a gay artist”. Sometimes I wonder if it would not be more helpful if teachers could admit to students: “Actually, I’ve got a problem with you.”

No complaint, no problem?

‘Students are scared to address problems related to their subjective experiences. The students who deal with racism or sexism are often the most fragile students. If something is finally thrown on the table as an issue, it’s quite remarkable how we [as teachers and directors] don’t know how to deal with the situation. There are few to no institutional tools designed to navigate situations of conflict.’

Outsiders might wonder why students don’t address these problems or rely on internal complaint procedures. First of all, it is not obvious to students (or to anyone) how to react directly when something happens, even if they can recognize the problem. Or as one student put it: ‘I know when sexism or racism happens, but I don’t know enough about the historical background of it. I miss the right vocabulary and the confidence to speak up.

(c) Elsa B. Mason

However, students are much more likely to act and confront teachers about their behaviour, when they are supported by fellow students. One student tells of how she addressed, together with some of her colleagues, a teacher who wrote her nightly messages, and told him to stop. As a consequence, it did not happen again, at least not to her. In another example, a student explained how a racist teacher was eventually fired after her class together filed a complaint.

When a complaint is carried collectively, the threshold to go to a director or ombuds(wo)man naturally becomes lower. On the other side, filing an individual complaint seems to raise a fear in the student that by signaling a problem, they will ‘become the problem’.

Or as one student says: ‘It is great to want to change things, but if you get into too much trouble and you don’t get your degree at the end of the ride, I am not sure it’s worth it’. Another student said she was scared that rumours would spread and that she would be brushed off as ‘an attention seeker’.

Racism and sexism are not opinions. Nor are they areas of interest that belong to a small group of people.

Nevertheless, the tools to address problems and negative experiences are limited and still highly rely on the affected person to file a complaint. The logic goes: no complaint, no problem. From our interviews it became apparent that the position of the ombuds(wo)man varies greatly from school to school. One student explains how in her school the title of ‘ombuds(wo)man’ is assigned to another teacher every year, which makes it difficult to approach them with more personal information, because ‘teachers talk’.

Moreover, students from several different schools felt that their visit to the ombuds(wo)man didn’t lead to any changes, and therefore have lost trust. What happens to their concerns is not always clear and the lack of transparency in the hierarchical structures that schools represent, make that many students feel powerless. In some educations, students (and even some teachers) don’t even know where to go or who to speak to if something would happen.

Practicing patience is not an action

‘The worst thing that can happen is that these more vulnerable students end up leaving. I don’t believe you can change the institution from the outside, so when students drop out, nothing really changes and they are missing the chance for a degree which can be very helpful. So I try to encourage students to stay, to take the most out of the education as they can get out of it and to minimize the harm.’

Stereotyping, ignorance, unfairness and harassment can scar students for life, while repeated attempts to fit in can result in loss of identity and sense of self.

Some might figure out a way to get through, maybe supported by one or two teachers –– teachers who make a difference by showing awareness towards the complexity of students’ identities and the sensitivities that come along with especially precarious backgrounds. Others will drop out because of a school that fails them.

However, harm caused by racism or sexism could be reduced (and hopefully eradicated) if schools addressed these topics structurally by acting on the promise of ‘diversity’, rather than talking about it in one more working group or during an ‘inspiration day’ for the staff.

If you want to be a relevant art education today, you need to do the work necessary to make change happen.

How many schools have an actual diversity policy, a plan of action, a code of conduct concerning daily interactions, guidelines that scrutinize the processes of (subjective) evaluation? Where are the teachers who have the courage to examine their own behaviour and teaching strategies, and to adjust them when necessary? How many schools would consider inserting quotas in both student and teachers bodies to assure a future that reflects the demography of this country?

Where are the teachers who come together to inspire each other in finding the content that breaks the current narrow, white, male focus in the curriculum? Which schools understands that by protecting unexamined institutional mechanism for the sake of convenience and tradition, they are propagating the current culture of oppression into the future?

Racism and sexism are not opinions. Nor are they areas of interest that belong to a small group of people. If those who are not directly impacted by sexism and racism in arts education, do not feel hugely concerned, they are basically obstructing the path to social justice and reproducing these systems of exclusion and oppression of which they directly profit. It is exactly because of that reason that it should be mostly their concern.

Structural discrimination is not going to simply disappear over time. No school will be changed by patience. In fact, postponing this process will only make things worse. If you want to be a relevant art education today, you need to do the work necessary to make change happen and you need to start doing it now.

Note to the reader: In this article, we choose to focus on both experiences of sexism and racism. We did not want to measue one kind of discrimination against another one, especially as some students experience both. There has been some reference to queerphobia, but we are aware that they are not extensive. More research will be needed to map other mechanisms of exclusions (such as classism, ableism and fatphobia) in art education and how they co-exist.