In Praise of Visibility
He who is reluctant to recognize me opposes me.
– Frantz Fanon as quoted in Firebrands
There are entire segments of the world’s population that are not recognized by others usually because of their class, race, sexual orientation, bio sex, or gender presentation. To not recognize is to oppose. To oppose is to deny everyone the basic right to exist. To be. If you haven’t caught my drift: that is not cool.
If I am killed, no one need mourn me. My people have all been killed in that country and I, too, will die if need be.
– Geronimo as quoted in Firebrands
Invisible. Implacable. Un-killable.
– Firebrands on the subject of Geronimo
Invisibility as a survival tactic. This is not a new concept. What do you think “coming out of the closet” means? It means, revealing yourself to a society where you (and countless generations before you) chose to (or had to) remain invisible as a way to survive. Putting aside, for a moment, the courage and force of conviction of Geronimo, do we really want to live in a world where entire segments of the world’s population feel the need to hide who they are just so they can survive?
The answer is: no.
The most violent element in society is ignorance.
– Emma Goldman as quoted in Firebrands
What can we do or try to do?
The Things To Do Are: the things that need doing, that you see need to be done, and that no one else seems to see need to be done. Then you will conceive your own way of doing that which needs to be done – that no else has told you to do or how to do it. This will bring out the real you that often gets buried inside a character that has acquired a superficial array of behaviors induced or imposed on the individual.
– Richard Buckminster Fuller as quoted in Firebrands
This is the road I have tried to follow as a teacher: living my convictions; being open to the process of knowing and sensitive to the experience of teaching as an art; being pushed forward by the challenges that prevent me from bureaucratizing my practice; accepting my limitation, yet always conscious of the necessary effort to overcome them and aware that I cannot hide them because to do so would be a failure to respect both my students and myself as a teacher.
– Paulo Freire as quoted in Firebrands