If you know everything about everything already, then disregard what I write next.
[Again, puts on teacher voice, glasses, and cute booties.]
We are not all impacted the same way by images and words, movies and books, news items and documentaries. For some of us, watching a movie like Just Mercy, Fruitvale Station, Detroit, When They See Us, etc. is thought-provoking, eye-opening, enlightening, moving, infuriating, affirming, empowering.
If you and yours are provoked, opened, enlightened, moved, infuriated, affirmed, and empowered enough to do something to change the status quo, that’s great. Keep watching and keep doing.
For many of us, the dramatization of actual events is not received only as historical fiction. It is received as the here and now. It is a mirroring of lived experience. Sometimes it offers relief and a release to see experience shared and validated. Other times, it is re-traumatizing, deeply painful, unbearable, emotionally draining, anxiety inducing.
If this is happening to you, take a break. You owe nobody an explanation for why you can only tolerate rom-coms and cat videos or doodling and coloring these days.
Lynchings are in our newsfeed again. At least, it is in mine. I know what the news and images do to me. I hope you will also pause and examine what such news and images do to you.
Here is another next week-long research project you can do at home if you have internet access, a notebook, a pen/pencil, and a curiosity about nightmares.
1. In your notebook, list 3 cities in which you have lived or visited in the United States. Under each city, list the county and state.
2. Then, in your notebook, free write for 1 (one) minute whatever comes to mind when you hear/read, “We don’t see any American dream. We’ve experienced only the American nightmare.” You can make lists of word associations, write phrases and fragments, etc. Don’t worry about making full, complete sentences.
3. After you do so, read one section of this document every day.
4. As you read, take notes by creating two columns on each page. Your left column should include text citations in which you note down ideas, statistics, place names, and events. On the right column, include notes about your feelings, opinions, reactions as you read.
5. When you complete reading the entire document, go back to your list of 3 cities, counties, and states. For each city, search via google “record of lynching in [City/State/County].” For example, for Fort Lauderdale, I would search
A. record of lynching in Fort Lauderdale
B. record of lynching in Broward County
C. record of lynching in Florida
Repeat for the second and third city. Note your findings for each search.
5. After you have completed all of the above, imagine you just heard/read, “We don’t see any American dream. We’ve experienced only the American nightmare.” Free write for 1 (one) minute your current response to that word.
6. Compare your initial free write with your final free write.
7. Discuss your research with a family member or friend or comment below.