My I Story

May 4, 2022

l would just like to uplift the name of Reverend Clementa Pinckney I heard him give a speech about the first Memorial Day in Charleston for the first time in May of that year but by June he was dead. We also lift up the names of Cynthia Hurd, Reverend Sharonda Coleman -Singleton, Ethel Lance, Depayne Middleton Doctor, Rev. Daniel Simmons, Myra Thompson, Susie Jackson, and Tywanza Sanders.

This is my I story, my journey, of how I came into this space of taking the conversation of “If Racism was a Monster What Would it Look Like” out into this community to help build community, the “us” and the “we.” For me the journey began, if I may take you back to the night of Wednesday, June 17, 2015 where at an evening bible study at Mother Emanuel Church in downtown Charleston, 9 of 12 of those bible study church member were murdered. The very next day we were starting our Summer Camp. To say I was angry and lost was an understatement and I needed those kids to help me process what I, we, were feeling as much as and maybe even more than they may have needed me. We spent the whole summer dealing with our feelings largely through poetry and painting. Later that Fall when we returned to school, our principal spent our first PD day processing our feelings, trying to assess our emotional health about what we as the Charleston Community were experiencing. I could tell you that each person in that room was committed to making a real difference in the lives of the Children who we were in our care…

I just love children’s artwork. It just seems more raw and real to me. They seem more connected to their emotions. I worked at James Simons Montessori School at the time. I was with an Art group (we were called the Charleston Rhizome Collective” not “TINYisPOWERFUL”). I thought we had an opportunity to do something really good which was to bring Public Art to Public Schools to enrich learning across the curriculum. Our approach would be to take school children out of the classroom and into the community to do public art projects. We have been working with James Simons since 2015. We wanted to expand our reach into others schools… so we are here in this space today delighted to see how we can co-create with you around the issues of identity, race, bias and fear. We will approach these issues through the construction of monsters…the process involved with this activity will include devising ways of constructing these monsters, naming them, inventing stories around them, etc. and may help participants to safely begin talking about perceptions, concerns or fears related to these issues. Reflecting upon the monsters they have made may help bring participants to meaningful reflection concerning the racism and bias that exist in our collective culture, in our individual lives, and in the classroom. We believe that as we move  away from otherness and fear we will move toward a culture of hope, empathy and healing.