I am beginning the blog post on the evening of Good Friday. I received messages from some of my colleagues in the Teaching Within community wishing my family and I a Happy Easter. At first the message made me feel uncomfortable. Should we be sending religious greetings in a professional chat?
The hesitant to engage with faith is something I am trying to overcome. Seeing people celebrate their religion publically is something that I am use to. My dad side of the family is Muslim and I live in a densely populated Muslim area. My Mum is a Christian, in fact a deaconess in her church. I went to a Catholic secondary school. My 8 year daughter has decided she is Catholic and has independently decided to do her holy communion. Many of my friends have decided to start practicing African Spirituality. Although I believe I am very fortunate to be surrounded by a multi-faith community I have seen first hand the break down of relationships when people get into debates around religion. This is one area, that I very nervous of approaching in a classroom environment.
46% of UAL students are religious and their observance of faith may feed into their creative practice(s). Additionally, reading Rahul Patel interview in SoN zine ‘Higher Power: Religion, Faith, Spirituality & Belief ‘ I was reminded that faith plays an instrumental part of many people’s lives, especially people of colour who live in the UK. Communities are formed that provide spiritual solace but these spaces of worship at time can be free from racism and allow worshipers to find self actualization. The below recollection from Black Ballad Writer, Samara Linton, describes the positive impact of going to a black church.
“When my family packed our bags and moved to the UK, attending church gave us the continuity and community we so desperately needed. Church affirmed our value and worth in an environment that threatened it almost daily. In church, I gained a respite from the onslaught of questions my peers at school had about who I was and where I was from. In church, I could read scriptures at bible study without my accent struggling to be understood. In church, I saw my father addressed with respect, and my mother preach from the pulpit with authority. In church, people who looked like me, spoke like me and thought like me were pastors and leaders. They were secretaries and accountants, musicians and stewards. Growing up in church, a black church, gave me, a young black girl in a foreign world, a sense of security, community and hope.” – (Linton, 2018)
Wynter in this scenario is David taking on Tate, the Goliath and although she may not have bought the institution down to is knees she was able to garner public support in criticizing the institution without harming her career but instead positioning herself as radical with possibility of getting more work and commissions.
A second example; Oloni, sex and relationship blogger was the cover girl for Nu-people magazine and it features her eating an apple. A visual reference to Eve in the Bible and Hawa in the Quran. I would ask students to interrogate the semiotics of such image and what it means for women’s liberation.