This article explores failure from the perspective of a white art educator interested in social justice and educational equity. Interconnected notions of failure are explored, including: the author’s learning from personal failure as a process of professional growth over the course of her career; the specter of “school failure” and its impact on K-12 students’ educational opportunities and experiences; entrenched, systemic inequities in public schools and their failure to serve marginalized students and communities; and the potential complicity of the author’s individual professional failures – if left unaddressed – in perpetuating racialized inequities in art education. Whiteness, or white power, knowledge, and privilege, is implicit in all these failures, both in the ways it shapes the uneven landscape of public education and in the author’s own process of professional growth as an art educator. The article is structured as a personal narrative that highlights salient professional failures over three phases of the author’s career, including: her early years as an elementary art teacher in a low-income African American community in Florida; her work as a doctoral student, which was informed by critical race theory; and her evolving practice as a university art educator working with racially diverse pre-service teachers.
© The Author