As a nation, we have become polarized along ethnic, religious, racial and social lines causing clashes within our own cultures and prejudices towards other groups. These feelings have been passed along for generations, and extend to the way people judge others by the way they look, speak, and dress.
To broaden mindsets we challenged participants to write a story about an experience they had with someone who doesn’t look or behave like them, describe how they handled the situation (and the reasons why), the outcome of their actions or reactions, and how that outcome made them feel. Then participants, most with little or no prior exposure to the art-making process, learned to trust their inner talents and create drawings to illustrate their stories.
I said, “Excuse me Ma’am, why are you following me around the store? I’m just buying food like everyone else.” “No you’re not. You and your friends are typical black kids who came into the store to steal,” she answered.
A boy in my Civics class hated me because I didn’t speak English and I was Haitian. His insulting remarks were meant to affect me in negative ways but they actually motivated me to work harder in school to speak better English.
There was a boy who looked, acted and spoke differently than me. He spoke an Arabian language. At lunch, I ate pizza and orange juice. I couldn’t figure out what food he ate. My friends and I didn’t like him. He was from Iran. He was a Muslim. I’m from Miami. My religion is Hinduism. After a year when he learned English, I asked him about himself. He is not that different than me and my friends.
I am guilty! Yes, I killed Trayvon Martin. He didn’t belong on this earth. He was Black and Black people always start drama. Black people steal from Whites. Black people terrorize our families. Black people are not civilized. It is my duty to stop crimes in my neighborhood so I killed Trayvon Martin because he was a Black man. I automatically knew he was up to no good. He was wearing a hoody in the dark in MY neighborhood where he did not belong. I went to stop him when he started to fight with me so I protected myself. I pulled out my gun and killed the Black boy. And I was found NOT GUILTY by a jury of my peers … people from my town who are prejudiced just like me.