This production is part of WFPL News’ year-long project The Next Louisville: Race, Ethnicity and Culture.
Even the most brilliant people (maybe especially the most brilliant people) can need some help putting their thoughts in order. That’s what PechaKucha was designed for. The concept originated at an architectural firm in Tokyo in 2003, to keep presentations from going on too long. Each speaker brings 20 slides and speaks about a topic, and each slide is shown for only 20 seconds.
As part of The Next Louisville, WFPL partnered with PechaKucha Louisville, with support from the Community Foundation of Louisville, to produce a PechaKucha night focusing on race and ethnicity, at the Muhammad Ali Center. Videos and excerpts from the October 25 event are below.
When I learned that I was pregnant with a little boy, I was overjoyed. But soon, I became overwhelmed, and fearful. What is the plight of a parent raising a child of color in this world? My son was born into a world where black boys are often criminalized and perceived to be much older and stronger than they are. They are monitored and punished more severely in schools and by police officers. They’re diagnosed more frequently with ADHD and learning disabilities. As early as 4 years old, black children face discrimination, as they make up 18 percent of preschoolers, but nearly half of all out-of-school suspensions. Why is this? Who do we expect children like my child to be?
While we live in the same physical world, the same space, we occupy different and distinct social worlds, structured by different sets of rules. Whites live in a world constructed by whiteness to serve our interests, and black and brown folks live in a world forged in opposition, initially, to the white world. Whites insist that Black Lives Matter is a problem, because it challenges our reality — which is the reality of whiteness.
T Benicio Gonzales
I’ve had many challenging conversations with my parents throughout my life. I’ve had them about my queer identity. I’ve had them about my identity as a transgender person. These are new ideas, a new language, and a shifting reality for my parents. My mother asked me a couple of years ago, “What do I call you now? Should I call you my son?” She had always called me mija, a shortened form of mi hija, “my daughter,” in Spanish. Growing up, I heard mija like I would have heard my own name. She asked, “What should I call you? I shouldn’t say ‘my daughter,’ right? Should I call you my son? What?” She was trying on a new name for me and wanting to get it right. I told her she already knew a word that would work. A word without a gender. You know it, too. Child. I am your child. You can call me your child.
Talking about race in media and design is hard, because you can’t talk about race without a degree of pain. There’s pain in the act of recognizing one’s own privilege, and there’s pain in the act of defending your right to talk about disparities, inequities, and stuff that’s just plain messed up. Allies, what it means to gracefully navigate that pain means meeting people where they are, while accepting and processing your own pain. To move forward, we must meet people in their passion, in their confusion, in their hurt and in their unrest. The first constructive way to develop that grace is by becoming a conscious observer of the world around you.
Is it because we’re comfortable? Is it “good enough” – we don’t have riots? Is it because we are secretly happy we keep people of color in small geographic areas? Are we glad we have categories of people herded into small areas and away from us, without us actually voting for that to happen? Do we think segregation is unconnected to current policies? Do we assume that segregation is some kind of perpetual motion machine divorced from any human cause? Perhaps some new law of physics. Or is it that, if we are all guilty, then none of us are guilty? Surely if we stop and think, we know we can identify the policies that make this happen.
One of the things they say is before you raise money, you raise a ‘friends and family’ round. You raise that round before you raise money from banks or from institutions. But the thing is, not every one of us has family like this. Not all of us were born into rich families. It’s a completely false assumption of socioeconomics. Most of our families look like everyday working folks. Most of our families don’t have $10,000 or $15,000 to give you to execute your plan before you’re attractive to a bank. And that’s a very, very big problem, one that causes a disconnect: I have an idea. I have a team to build it, I have the passion to build it. I know that what I’m going to do is going to impact people’s lives for the better, but I just can’t connect that bridge.
Freedom in visual expression was scarce. It was limited. They were told to paint the ‘master,’ but never themselves, because a proud slave was a slave full of trouble. But we made use of the tools we did have: our voices, and our bodies. So we sang, “amazing grace, how sweet the sound” — how sweet the sound of the voices of slaves. Voices that no white person could steal. Words flowing from minds that no white person could touch, used to uplift, and used to this day. The rituals of call and response eased the pain caused by forced labor. Jazz and soul to r&b and hip hop all rose from these practices. From the Mississippi Delta to the Appalachian Mountains, the more we sang, the better we became.