When I think about diversity, a picture of the color wheel pops into my head. Sir Isaac Newton invented the color wheel when he performed an experiment with a prism and discovered pure white light contains the full spectrum of colors. Scientists have continued to study the components of color for its physical, psychological and philosophical effects. Why is color so important?
Color is the most diverse and fluid element I can imagine. When you really give it some thought, there is an infinite combination of colors that create the diversity in a color wheel. There are primary colors (red, yellow, and blue) secondary colors (primary plus orange, green, and purple) and tertiary colors (primary, secondary plus yellow green, green yellow, blue green, green blue, red blue, blue red, yellow red, and red yellow. The more we mix, the more colors we can produce. This diversity is what makes art so interesting and no two painting could ever be the same even if the same artist painted them at the very same time.
We cannot talk about the diversity of color without including color harmony. Harmony is the pleasing arrangements of parts, whether music, color or poetry and is pleasing to the eye. Color harmony delivers a visual interest to the viewer causing the brain to see a logical structure and a sense of order. Color can be used in many different ways. Analogous colors are 3-4 colors next to each other on the color wheel, while complementary colors are complete opposites on the color wheel.
Color context is how color behaves in relation to other colors and shapes. Red will appear more brilliant against a black background and appear duller against a white background. There are different meanings that colors have or evoke in one persons mind. For example, red appears to be the most extreme and powerful color, while yellow can be happiness. What would happen if we removed the color blue from our lives? What color would the water, sky and sea become? What if we removed the color of people and painted everyone the same color? I think it would make a pretty boring world if everyone were the same color. We should embrace differences and see people as the color wheel of diversity, a vision of equality where every color is beautiful.
When I think about equity I think of a box of crayons, colored soldiers standing at attention, waiting for a young child to select one to use. Most children have used crayons at some time in their life. Some people in life get a box of 96 crayons and some only get a box of 12 crayons, however, it is what you make with your crayons in you life that matters. Equity isn’t in everyone getting the same box of crayons; equity is being taught how to use the crayons you were given. Equity is not a socialistic or utopian society.
I started thinking about equity inside the box of crayons. As I stare at 96 different colors, I choose one to color with…but I stop and ask why did I pick that particular color? Is it my favorite? Is it my mood? Or was it just random? I look into the box, almost 100 colors, and ask myself, are they all equal? The material makeup of the crayons is all the same so they have the same equity inside, but the outside of each crayon is different. People are the similar; we all have the same genetic makeup, yet on the outside, we all look different.
Statistically in a box of crayons, the least chosen color is white, and I began to wonder why? Then I realized, it is because white is the absence of all color, so why would a child choose white when it doesn’t show against a white piece of paper. I guess white would be good on a black piece of paper, but how often do we color on black paper? Black is all the colors mixed together from the box of crayons and is highly saturated with color. I began to wonder, how did people become colors and why? Maybe if we actually stop counting people by colors, maybe we could do away with the labels. When an application asks for sex or race, I never fill them out. The melting pot of people in this world requires a box of 96 crayons.
My vision of equity is STEAM education for all students. STEAM can capture all learning styles and uses all the colors on the wheel and all the crayons in whatever size box that the student owns. Art can be used as the primary pathway for teaching all subjects. Art helps students learn to see and to feel what we see and those arts can open their eyes. Children, who actively participate with their hands and their minds, make connections between what they are learning and the outside world. Student performance, whether it is art, music, theatre, or dance, incorporates the entire body into the curriculum utilizing the student’s visual, auditory and tactile learning aptitudes. Building intellectual thought around art guarantees the connection of several sensory modalities, a type of physical sensation. When students realize that everything is associated, instead of isolated lessons, they can visualize the real world applications affecting their own lives.