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Freedom, the Naked Space Exhibit

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California State University, Dominguez Hills
University of Wisconsin, Parkside
Created: December 13, 2004
Latest Update: December 13, 2004

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As I put up learning records from transform_dom, I twice came across a phenomenon I had not expected. Exhibits appeared that had not been much, if at all, discussed in class, and I, at first, in traditional teacher fashion, thought those students must just have not been paying much attention and had gone off searching for any topic they could find. I was wrong. We apparently hadn't talked about them because to have done so would have meant that someone would have had to talk out loud, express these feelings, and they weren't quite ready to do that.

I drew this conclusion based on what the students themselves told me. The first one, I only remember vaguely, and will have to search for it later. But the second was Deiadra's poster on sex and sexuality. Deiandra had her little girl with her at the exhibit. I was surprised. But, as I read her explanation of learning, I realized that sex and sexuality are not easy to talk about, but that Deiandra had something important to say that she did want to share with others. Here's what she wrote:

"In your class I have learned that respect is the Key of Life. We as a society should respect one another. In your women and poverty class I have completely understood how a woman in poverty can lack self respect and only the strong through the storm will make it through. Women in society are stronger now than ever,but the lack of self respect in the African American culture is killing us slowly. My project was on self respect amongst African American women. HIV in black women is on the rise; they are at the top of the list. In recent studies it shows that 70% of reported HIV cases were black women. Black women are too trusting, iving in poverty, and or uneducated. I am a black women, and I was once young, and I have done things I'm not proud of. But I went out thereand educated myself about sex and the effects of not protecting yourself, because if you don't respect your body how can you want somebody else to?" Deiandra Green. Message No. 2162

Deiandra, I remember your project, and my surprise that it dealt rather plain forwardly with sex and sexuality. It seems to me that you were echoing the words of another student who said, "The exhibit let us express what we felt without having to say a word or hit anybody over the head with it." This is certainly an aspect of the exhibit that does meet one of our needs, but one that I had not been aware of. I'm glad you brought me to awareness. jeanne

Discussion Questions:

  1. Do you think this same comfort with "not having to say a word or beat anyone over the head with it" might be true for other social issues, like extreme poverty, homelessness, incarceration, general poor performance in school, disagreement with the family's dominant discourse, etc?

  2. We accept quite readily that people learn differently. That some people learn from lectures, others from reading, others from discussion. Why do we have so much trouble understanding that some people communicate more effectively with differnt approaches. Not everyone is comfortable saying what he/she thinks. The exhibit offered a fine way to get around that. Do you think that might be why Rudi wouldn't give me a straight answer about the message intent of his work? Could he have been more comfortable with pictures and rap than with the tangible commitment of a verbal explanation?

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