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.
I spoke with a talk show host named Rod Arquette the other day, regarding healing my PTSD through my art exhibit and the story of my friends murders in Liberty Park.
Its ironic that the murders were so contrary to the name of the park. “Liberty” was literally murdered on the street right in front of my eyes that night in 1980.
I never thought about it til today, but I had such a beautiful history with Liberty Park before the murders. It was a stable place where I felt safe.
I loved Liberty Park as a child. It was a place I visited often. My grandparents lived down the street.
When I was 5 I looked for the tooth fairy in the tree knot holes and performed on the Victorian stage that was torn down years later. In the summers I took swimming, tennis and art lessons there while my single mother worked. I was a member of the Liberty Belles, girls tennis team. My friends and family picnicked, played, roller-skated, sang and danced there before the murders.
As a child we moved alot. I went to 22 schools by the time I was in 10th grade. But Liberty Park was a safe zone for me until I was shot there at 15 years old.
When Ted and Dave were killed there, so was my affection for Liberty Park. It was such an ugly irony that the name is based on American values and the truth about American made terrorism was being displayed on the grounds that were so sacred to me.
I often get asked if things are better since the murders. It has been 33 years. In some ways its better.
But all you have to do is look at the trial of George Zimmerman and the comments from trolls on the internet that send hate behind the anonymity of a keyboard and screen.
The “Angry Trayvon” game that depicts the murder VICTIM as a thug and aggressor is VICTIM BLAMING plain and simple. Victim blaming has always been an effective and accepted tool to control the masses of the oppressed.
I think of Trayvon’s mother and all the mothers who know this trauma and I want to protect them from the hate.
I want to heal this cancer of us and them.
I think about whether JPF would still be in prison 33 years later, after convictions of 22 murders. They stopped bringing charges against him since he has 5 life terms and 2 death sentences. They thought it would be a waste of taxpayers money. I agree. But I question if he would still be tax burden to the citizens, with a death sentence hanging over his head, if he were a black Muslim killing white people because of their race.
Lee Malvo, a black serial killer that implicated a young black boy, killed 15 people was convicted in 2005 and executed in 2009. That’s 4 years of waiting. The impressionable young boy got life. Their killings were considered “terrorist” attacks.
In my opinion JPF was an American, white, Christian terrorist.
I haven’t slept for several weeks more than a few hours here and there. I don’t want to dream. But I want to sleep. Impossible. This morning I woke from a horribly vivid nightmare. This serial haunting follows me, when I’m stressed or upset. Reminding me that I am a hostage unless I talk about it. But, if I do talk about it I risk every thing. It’s not polite or pretty. But polite and pretty keeps me in this nightmare. I am held hostage, holding my tongue so I don’t pollute the air for those who haven’t experienced random violence, child abuse, rape, poverty, incest, trauma, racism, PTSD and anything else.I know things like this have happened since the beginning of time. But what if they happen because nobody talks about it?
Subconsciously, I believed that the victims on the news must have done something to deserve the tragedy that befell them. It insulated me from the thought that it could ever happen to me or anyone I love. I felt safe in my bubble of naiveté, “As long I do everything right, nothing bad will happen to me. I’m a good person.”
So, I became polite and pretty. But I can’t wear that title anymore. My nightmares are forcing me to jump out of the burning building of my past. And it is neither polite nor pretty. I descend knowing that I’m landing with truth.
My past is like a knife. I can use it to serve or harm. I can’t change the past. But I can follow hope as I navigate through this moment. Hope in humanity. The future is changed with one person’s thought, any person involved in the holograms of my life. I can’t control what they think. I can’t control the future.
I worry about offending everyone with my truth. But is it less offensive to deny it, to avoid the shattering of an illusion?
My dream last night was so vivid. I was trapped in a house with people who were suffering from different abnormalities. All were muttering to themselves, lost and paranoid. All were angry, sad and insane in their own unfortunate way, representing different aspects of my psyche. Long, shiny, silver, sewing shears were everywhere. I knew I had to use them to kill, for a chance at survival. But I didn’t want to hurt anyone. I just wanted to go, to get out of this madness.
I grabbed a heavy cold pair of scissors as I looked for the door, planning the fastest path of least resistance. A nude, disfigured, blind woman slowly walked by me. Touching the walls feeling her way through the room.
Her heart was under her skin but above the rib cage. I could see the outline of it. Pumping and exposed as though it was calling me to kill her first. She would be easiest to eliminate. Her heart was asking for it, by being so exposed.
I planned my route for the escape and raised my cold weapon to plunge into her beating heart. I saw that she was me and I awoke in a cold sweat.
It shook me. Forgotten pieces of the dream came to me throughout the day. As I interpreted the dream, I realized there are things in my past that must be cut from my psyche and my life. Like a surgeon addressing cancer, I am the surgeon and I am the patient. I am the victim and I am the victor. I am the destroyer and I am the healer. I am a wanderer alone in a sea of people of the chaotic city and I am the butterfly floating gracefully in the forest.
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.
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.