White Shame: Our History, Ourselves
White Shame: Our History, Ourselves illuminates that which lives in the shadows, preventing us from privately and publicly acknowledging America’s complex historical truth. It is a mirror reflecting who we are as human beings while also offering a window into understanding community and culture. My intention is to create a dialog between the effects of domination and the inherent privilege of white supremacy with the internalized terror created and sustained by racial myth and stereotype.
My childhood home in an upper-middle-class segregated suburb of Milwaukee shaped my worldview. My parents were proud of their achievement of purchasing a home. Paying bills, putting food on the table, saving for retirement, and maintaining their investment defined our family values. Owning property and managing money were top priority for our family and those within our community.
Desiree Brow, my college roommate at Carroll College, Waukesha, WI was my first Black peer. Our friendship exposed racial biases, assumptions, and stereotypes - both my own and those existing in society.
A career in the military broadened my exposure to people of all cultures and multiple lifestyles.
I returned to Milwaukee with a desire to examine the impact of police brutality, segregation and redlining. I used my camera to explore the African American community by engaging with the All People’s Church, Brother Rashad Scott and the Black Panthers. I walked the Northside neighborhoods to experience the intimacy of a community I had not been exposed to as an adolescent.
Inspired by Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates, I began to consider how the body records oppression and its consequent terror. My research was informed by Dr. Bessel Van Der Kolk’s, The Body Keeps the Score, where terror is proven to alter the brain’s functioning and impact one’s relationship to self and others. Here we examine our history, testify to truths we know in our bodies and begin to transcend a constructed reality, to step into consciousness - equally free.