Unfair! Unfair! How strongly have we felt that “life” was not fair? We’ve all experienced the burn of unfair treatment at one time or another, some life changing injustices and some real or perceived favoritism. So what did we do?

Center for Folk and Community Art (“CFCA”) artists, Dena Stewart and Stewart Stewart, went to high schools in inner city neighborhoods and asked teenagers to write a personal narrative about being in an unfair situation, and how they handled it. Then Dena and Stewart showed them how to visualize what they wrote and taught them how to illustrate their stories.

Most of the teenagers described typical unfair situations. Janece, age 16Some weren’t picked for a team or club they worked hard to qualify for, but someone less talented was selected, and that was unfair. Some believed their siblings received preferential treatment by their parents, and that was unfair. Judith, age 14One young lady lost her mother at a young age, and that was unfair. Some had physical disabilities or chronic health problems that interfered with them participating in athletic or social activities, and that was unfair.

A 15-year old boy wrote, “I get good grades in school, I am a good Dominique, age 15person. So why are my parents so ashamed of me that they call me names and tell me they wish I was never born? Why do they hate me for being gay? I sometimes want to die. They should love me because I am their son, not abuse me. The way they treat me is unfair.”  (As part of our outreach, we contacted the LGBTQ Center closest to his school and at our next workshop session we gave the boy the name and phone number of a social worker for him to call or text to set up a private meeting at a location of his choice.)

These teenagers had NO prior art education, so while they were learning to illustrate, they experienced the creative process which provided them with opportunities to confront and overcome frustrations. By sharing their stories, they developed empathy, sympathy and integrity. 


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