- the lightness or darkness of a color
Brown Paper Bag Test– Slave owners held brown paper bags to the skin of a slave. Those as light or lighter than the bag would be allowed to work in the house.Those of a darker skin hue were sent to the fields. These were two very different life sentences, life circumstances and life expectancies. The residual expectations of beauty from the brown paper bag test still affect society today.
Colorism is a reflection of unjust expectations, within ones own race, of acceptable standards of worth and beauty based on lightness or darkness of skin tone.
Its like starving for acceptance and being given a beautiful inedible piece of cake.
• How does colorism affect our capacity to understand, love and accept our multi-ethnic families, villages and ourselves?
• Can we heal the misunderstandings of the beauty of value and the value of beauty?
For me, ethnicity awareness brought an awakening. The challenge of racism isn’t one I chose. It chose me.
On August 20, 1980, Joseph Paul Franklin, a racist serial killer was trying to start a race war across America. He murdered Ted Fields and David Martin, who were African American. I was hit with bullet fragments as we jogged from Liberty Park in Salt Lake City, Utah. I was 15 years old at the time. I grew up in Utah. But this wasn’t my first or last taste of racism.
When I fill out a census report I never feel like I choose the right description. White not Hispanic, isn’t true for me. Hispanic doesn’t feel right either. I am multi-ethnic. I come from a long line of open-minded lovers. Many were lost in their need to be as worthy as the white people in their world. Some of my beautiful Mexican ancestors bleached their skin. My mother remembers hearing her Mexican grandmother tell her, ” We may be dark but we are just as good as the Okies.” She believed there was a rating system of worth and importance. She told her “we are better than white trash.”
If she really believed this, how did she feel about herself and her grandchildren who carried the less “favorable” traits of dark hues and ethnic physical characteristics or the children whose skin was lighter?
My ethnicity is tied to the culture of my sphere of influence; my friends and my family as well as their friends and families. Our lives touch each other to shape our experiences. It is a ripple effect.
At times I’ve been told I look like an exotic white woman but my ethnicity is more connected to the African American and the Hispanic culture. My father had blonde hair and grey eyes, my mother is first generation Mexican American, with dark hair and eyes.
Growing up in Utah, my family was often ostracized and called “spic”, “wetback”, half breed” by our white Mormon neighbors whose parents didn’t allow them to play with us. To them we had no worth, no redeeming value.
“Tell Me Who You’re With & I’ll Tell You What Your Worth”.
“One Day I Decided To Love Without Society’s Permission”.
Being a fair skinned, bright, shy, obedient, quiet and introverted child, I seemed invisible as I observed the grown ups around me. I quietly fell through the cracks and listened. I heard their unguarded conversations (as children often do) and learned about the toxic give and take of racism.
Those conversations treated me to the double-edged sword of white privilege at a distance. I still marvel at the poisonous mind-sets or sayings that imprison those who just want to fit in, to be valued and belong, to be seen as a person.
“Don’t be fooled by my beauty. The light of my face comes from the candle of my spirit”- Rumi
I believe in the law of three fold. You get what you give, times three. That’s why I don’t want to fight prejudice or declare war on racism or anything that offends or scares me. My intention is to heal racism with art and uncomfortable conversations. Healing begins within, exploring self imposed biases and prejudices. Everything touches everything.
My art is a hopeful prayer for the voiceless. It is an invitation into the void of uncomfortable conversations where the healing begins.
STATEMENT ABOUT MY ARTIST MENTOR EXPERIENCE
I think the women at Art Access are really fairy godmother’s who grant wishes for art waiting to be born.
I’ll always be grateful Art Access granted my wish and gave me the opportunity to work with such a talented and giving artist, Liberty Blake. She’s is teaching me the fundamental, structural and artistic process of collage art. Her generosity of time and wisdom has been priceless.
The evolution of this exhibit grew from exquisite conversations of vulnerability with Liberty. Her professional and personal advice allowed me to give a voice to the family secrets of colorism.
I look forward to working with Liberty in the future. This has been a challenging beautiful experience I will carry forward in my artistic career.
© Terry Jackson-Mitchell and http://www.idwellindreams.wordpress.com, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Terry Jackson -Mitchell and http://www.idwellindreams.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
September 9, 2014 | Categories: Examples of My Art, Gallery, Healing Ripple Effect, Quotes | Tags: African American, ancestors, Art Access Gallery, Art Exhibit, black, caucasion, Collage Art, Colorism, equality, Ethnicity, fear, forgiveness, healing, Healing Family, healing racism, Heritage, Liberty Blake, mexican, Multi-Ethnic, ripple effect, Utah, Value, white privilege, Worth | 2 Comments
My assignment in figure painting could be anything I wanted to paint so I chose to paint my version of Dorothy Dandridge in “Carmen”. I like how it turned out. We normally use oil or acrylic but I wanted to try watercolor. Its my third time painting an assignment in water-color. I like working with it but I think I would do better if I took a water painting class.
My version of Dorothy Dandridge in “Carmen”
May 3, 2014 | Categories: Completed Courses, Examples of My Art, Favorite Completed Assignments, Gallery | Tags: art, carmen, dorothy dandridge, final, watercolor | 6 Comments
I painted this picture of my sweet granddaughter. I didn’t use black or white paint to mix colors. She inspires me to understand the trauma imprint in our dna. I want to heal our family pathology of abuse, rape & poverty. I want to change the world for her and her sister, by healing the race wars within our ancestry.
She is the essence of all the ancestors before her. As she is growing she heals THEM in her.
February 5, 2014 | Categories: Examples of My Art, Favorite Completed Assignments, Gallery, Healing Ripple Effect, Learning to Change the World, Social Justice Events | Tags: february healing art a day marathon, healing ancestors dna, healing humanity, healing inspiration, healing ptsd, healing racism | Leave a comment
I painted a chrome statue of Buddha. It sits center stage in my home, keeping me mindful of being present & grateful for all the blessings in my life.
February 5, 2014 | Categories: Examples of My Art, Favorite Completed Assignments, Gallery, Healing Ripple Effect, Learning to Change the World | Tags: Buddha, february healing art a day marathon, healing ancestors dna, healing humanity, healing inspiration | 3 Comments
I am healing the trauma of RACE WARS in my dna.
Spring semester 2013, I was asked to create paintings without using any black or white to mix the colors for paint.
I couldn’t help but think, “What would my life be like without black or white’s influence?” I often feel that I walk between the space of race.
I thought of all the races that are part of my DNA. I come from a long line of open-minded lovers, maybe some weren’t given a choice. Many ancestors were on opposite sides of race wars; French, Mexican, German, African American, Native American, Middle Eastern, English, Irish, Scottish, slaves & slave owners.
I thought of the imprint of pain & misunderstanding because of the black & white mentality that cripples my heart when I feel like I don’t fit in.
I wondered if I could heal my ancestor’s pain within me.
I visualized them all, speaking of their lives & their journeys. I wanted to hear them all. I wanted to heal them all. I saw them making peace with each other in another realm where no black or white was allowed, just the pure colors of their essence. They were my inspiration for these paintings.
I see them all dancing within me.
I see them in the face my grandchildren.
Changing the world begins within…. outside of black & white.
February 4, 2014 | Categories: Examples of My Art, Favorite Completed Assignments, Gallery, Healing Ripple Effect, Learning to Change the World | Tags: healing ancestors dna, healing humanity, healing ptsd, healing racism, healing trauma imprint | Leave a comment
For the month of February I’m painting people who healed my view of the world. It’s a project that matters to me because I truly believe we all have the power to heal the world. Every single one of us has that power. This is an opening to a creative conversation about healing the unresolved trauma imprints within my dna.
This is the beginning of my digital painting class. I am pretty shaky. This is all new to me. I’m using a computer that allows a pen to draw on the screen. I like this class a lot. I am learning about cartooning, story boarding, figure painting and social media. The classes all seem to work together. It’s fascinating and incredibly fun.
Healing the ancestors pain within me.
February 4, 2014 | Categories: Examples of My Art, Gallery, Healing Ripple Effect, Learning to Change the World, Quotes, Social Justice Events | Tags: ancestors, February Art A Day Marathon, healing ancestors dna, healing inspiration, healing racism, ptsd | Leave a comment
Child Abuse Casts The Long Shadow Of A Lifetime.
Denouncing racism and asking for forgiveness of his victims, is not something I expected to see, even if he is on borrowed time. I am shocked.
Three months ago I went to the canyon and prayed for his sentence to be carried out.
Before then, I never thought about his execution. It seemed so far away. It didn’t seem a real possibility until he was old and gray, which is obviously the case.
An execution seems more humane than his life. I never thought I would pray for someones death. But when I learned more about his childhood I found that he has been in some sort of prison his whole life from cradle to grave.
I wasn’t praying to be vindicated so much as mercy, for who he could have been if he had a normal childhood and upbringing.
His life sentences were connected to the victims & family life sentences. We will all be doing time for the village turning a blind eye to his childhood suffering.
I am not trying to make excuses for him. I want to heal the wounds he left in my heart and the community. In order to do that I have to know his narrative. What I have learned allowed me to forgive him. I think that is why I prayed for his suffering to be eased. Death is the only way that can happen for him.
I created this art piece to remember why its important to be part of the village who watch over our children. I am willing to have uncomfortable conversations if it saves a child.
JPF’s childhood and life reminds me that ignoring someone’s pain doesn’t shield me from it.
© Terry Jackson-Mitchell and http://www.idwellindreams.wordpress.com, 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Terry Jackson -Mitchell and http://www.idwellindreams.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
October 19, 2013 | Categories: Examples of My Art, Favorite Completed Assignments, Gallery, Healing Ripple Effect, Learning to Change the World, Social Justice Events | Tags: forgiveness, healing ptsd, healing racism, jpf | Leave a comment
My Interview With SLUG Magazine
Click on the link above to access the interview with SLUG (Salt Lake Under Ground) Magazine. I’m the second person they interviewed on this podcast.
I hope it spreads some healing where it’s needed.
Thanks to SLUG Writer Tim Kronenberg and SLUG Magazine for their time. I want to correct an error on my part in the interview. It will be the 50 year anniversary of Martin Luther King’s March in DC and “I Have A Dream Speech”, NOT 48 year anniversary.
August 7, 2013 | Categories: Examples of My Art, Gallery, Healing Ripple Effect, Learning to Change the World, Social Justice Events | Tags: African American, America, art, Art Access Gallery, black, Brolly Arts, David Martin, Ethnicity, healing racism, hoodie, Martin Luther King, mexican, ptsd, race, race mixing, Racism, Salt Lake City, Ted Fields, them, Trayvon Martin, us, Utah, white | Leave a comment
To honor my murdered friends, Ted Fields and David Martin, I hope to do my part to heal racism. I joined Brolly Arts and Art Access Gallery for an art exhibition called Justice For Some? Amy McDonald, Brolly Arts, and Sheryl Gillilan, Art Access Gallery, both executive directors respectively, were so supportive of public acts of creative healing.
This exhibit opened with the most talented brave dancers who performed every 30 minutes for 3 hours. They sought to bring awareness to human rights issues that plague our society. The performers spoke about their personal journeys. It was so moving and powerful. Everyone involved in this project was a light of beauty.
Justice For Some? is the evolution of many Justice For Some? pilot projects that have included workshops, community outreach and performance. 2013
Justice For Some? offers a model that is replicable in other settings for populations and issues.
The components of Justice For Some? included choreography by Sofia Gorder and performance by dancers and Westminster College students, the Drum Bus whose focus is on bullying, and an installation by the authors of “What I Thought I Saw”. Carla Kelley of the Human Rights Education of Utah
workshopped with cast members prior to the event.
Justice For Some? is the evolution of many Justice For Some pilot projects that have included workshops, community outreach and performance. 2013
Justice For Some? offers a model that is replicable in other settings for populations and issues. This valuable model can be used to help bring the
awareness and information to a wide array of people, locations, and situations. The content of the program, workshops, discussions, and movement can be tailored to suit the needs and interests o the communities being served.
I dream of my beloved Granny when I create this art. I know that she and many of my ancestors walk with me as I descend into hell to retrieve my voice.
I used the newspaper articles that broke me at the time of the murders. I always avoided reading them. While I was creating my art I read many news articles for the first time. My parents shielded me from them when I was a child. I heard about them but didn’t read them. If I am honest with myself I chose not to read them because I knew it would be too painful. It took a long time to read them and process what I feel about them. I feel broken sometimes by them.
My PTSD has been hitting me hard lately. I have literally lost my memory FOR WORDS in mid sentence as I am talking to people. It usually only lasts for as long as it takes to breathe one breath. But it scares the hell out of me when it happens. I wondered if I was having a stroke. My migraines, loss of appetite or relentless vomiting and night terrors were amped up substantially.
But I have to keep moving towards the finish line. This is a very challenging journey to explain to people in words. It seems that my art communicates more clearly if I use the words of the news print at the freshest time of the murders.
As I created these pieces, I thought about my favorite Goddess story. It is eerily accurate in describing my world right now. It was written thousands of years before the bible.
“Inanna was the beautiful goddess of heaven and earth. She blessed people and their crops. She introduced the moon and the sun every day. She was loved and revered by all. One day she decided that she would go to the underworld to visit the ruler, her sister Ereshkigal.
She dressed in her finest jewels and gold, things of sentimental importance. As she descended into the earth she would come upon a gate. At each gate she was asked to give an offering to proceed. She entered the 7th gate naked. When she tried to embrace her sister she was killed by her.
Inanna was hung on a hook for three days while her sister joyously celebrated her death. For it wasn’t only the death of Inanna, it was the death of the earth and the heavens.
On the third day Inanna awoke. She emerged from the underworld that could not contain her. She was stronger and more powerful from the lessons she learned at each gate.”
I am at the 7th gate and there is no turning back.
See the links below for info for Brolly Arts, Art Access Gallery and articles from the media.
July 8, 2013 | Categories: Examples of My Art, Favorite Completed Assignments, Gallery, Learning to Change the World, Social Justice Events | Tags: art, Art Access Gallery, Brolly Arts, community, healing, Liberty Park, ptsd, Racism, Salt Lake City, Utah | Leave a comment
I joined the wonderful group of people who created this conference partly because of Charlotte Howe’s commitment and enthusiasm for the project. But after meeting Katie and the students I was even more happy to be a part of it. I have a special place in my heart for social justice because of my experience of racism and violence as a child.
The weekly classes were great brainstorming sessions. The students were so bright and engaged. I would leave thinking about something new and thought provoking. The concept of public collective joy building a sense of community is so simple and important. I think deep down we know this but we talk ourselves out of it because of feeling foolish or too busy for such frivolity. But being around people who just wanted to share joy and positive energy was such a boost to my level of happiness. It was contagious and it is reinvigorated in me every time I think about the crowd dance or Ashley and Nathen’s performance. By the way, I felt a tsunami of joy that brought tears to my eyes when I watched Ashley and Nathen perform their lovely tender dance of humanity at the conference. This was a moment of healing light and grace that I will never ever forget. Truly it is beyond words. Nathen is an 18 year old young man with down syndrome. He takes dance classes with the key note speaker Ashley Anderson. His story is amazing. He embodies dance, like a dancer at Ballet West. He takes it very seriously. I wish you could see him and Ashley warm up. See Ashley Anderson & Nathens Performance
As I started this class I was also in Foundation II Painting class. One of the assignments was to create a painting using only pure color. No black or white for mixing shades and tints. I couldn’t help thinking about how my life would be without black or white. It struck a few nerves. I always explain the diversity in my family by saying, “I come from a long line of open-minded lovers”. Which may or may not be true. Maybe some of my ancestors weren’t given a choice when they created the child who was within my ancestry.
I have Mexican, German, African-American, English, Irish, Scottish, French, Middle Eastern, Native American, slaves and slave owners within my family dna. At one time or another these races were at war over prejudice, land or money. I wondered if they still fight within me. Is that the fear or rage that comes through and stops me from “fitting in”? Maybe feeling at odds or out of balance is them telling me to sit and hear their stories of collective oppression, fear and sadness, so that I can truly have justice within me.
Once I spoke with Karol Truman author of “Feelings Buried Alive Never Die”. She and many other healers believe that trauma leaves an imprint in our dna and is passed down from generation to generation attracting more trauma in our lives. The only hope for healing it is to acknowledge the journey or the story of the trauma and come to understand its influence.
I thought of the imprint of pain and misunderstanding because of the black and white mentality that cripples humanity. I thought about how I could create justice for them within me. I felt them say, “you must know our story before you can understand how to heal it”.
I visualized them all, speaking of their lives and their journeys, asking to be heard, forgiven or accepted. I wanted to hear them all. I wanted to heal them all. I saw them making peace with each other in another realm where no black or white was allowed, just the pure colors of their essence. They were my inspiration for these paintings.
I see them all dancing within me.
I see them in the face my grandchild.
Changing the world begins within, outside of black and white.
At the conference I explained why I care about justice. I spoke about the 1980 murders of my friends who were with me as we jogged in Liberty Park. We were shot for “race mixing” by a racist serial killer who was suspected of 39 murders and convicted of 22 murders in 12 states. I am 1 of 4 survivors from his violent rage. It was a life changing moment in our lives and the lives of our families.
I saw a man come closer as I spoke to the first people who asked about my paintings and why I care about social justice. He turned pale. I asked if he was all right. He said, “I was a little boy in the store across the street when you were shot. My aunt gave the boys cpr on the street. We have worried and wondered about you all these years. How are you?” This was somewhat shocking for both of us. We spoke at length and when he left, he mentioned that his aunt recently passed away. He seemed glad for the closure of meeting me. I felt humbled at the thought that there were so many affected by that horrible night but by some extraordinary coincidence we met at this event a few weeks after his selfless aunt passed away.
I have a hard time getting to comfortable with people and exposing my vulnerable heart when it comes to healing racism. But as I kept telling my story to those who asked why I was there, it became less painful to speak about it. I felt safe and supported and less broken.
I am in my late 40’s now and I am a grandmother to 2 wonderful little girls. They give me the courage to keep trying to make this world a better place than when I arrived. They come with our
family to my “social justice” rally’s, marches and speeches. I hope that they feel the connection of collective joy and conscious that I feel when we participate in the journey to justice, with other like-minded people in my community.
10 years from now I will look back on this experience with reverence and appreciation for the kind wonderful people who participated and believed that the journey to justice is not for one, but for all. We are all the change we wish to see in the world and I am grateful I was a part of it.
May 10, 2013 | Categories: Examples of My Art, Gallery, Learning to Change the World, Social Justice Events | Tags: African, African American, Ethnicity, Feelings Buried Alive Never Die, Liberty Park, Racism, Social Justice, United States, Writing for Social Justice Conference | 2 Comments