[Battle Fatigue] Work-In-Progress
Ellis Wilson (b. 1996) is a black and indigenous conceptual artist currently based in Seattle, Washington. From 2015-2017, after majoring in fine art and filmmaking at Cornish College of the Arts and California College of the Arts respectively, Ellis was both constrained and dismayed by the racism and class discrimination that was prevalent in these white dominated spaces. Working with his brother and musician Carter Wilson, together they launched the Unilalia Group as an independent art firm in 2018, created by BIPOC artists for the purpose of decolonizing the production of culture.
Externalize, release, and exhale old stories or the wounds will fester: compounded trauma will bring you down. Tell everybody how you really feel and never censor yourself – don’t let them deny your reality. This is a collection of pieces, like thoughts and ideas, outlines and stories about navigating white spaces, titled "P.O.W." or “Baby, I Wanna Go to Unilalia” as an homage to the motif of finding that escape.
No. 001 ( in white spaces )
In seventh grade, you put your hands around my neck and strangled me on the bus like a fucking coward. You called me a monkey. You said I was stupid and made mockery of my race. You gaslighted me into compliance and marginalized my voice. I was one of the only black kids at your school and when you tokenized me, I hated you for it. You called me ghetto like it was my name. You told my brother he had “dirty blood”. You said I was dangerous and then you called me a nigger. You laughed at me when I told you I can’t sleep at night because there’s gunfire down my street. You asked me “Ellis, how’d you even get into this school?” insinuating that I was too stupid to be admitted. You graded me down because you have a racial bias against me and you’re weak because you refuse to hold yourself accountable for your total lack of self awareness and cultural literacy. You’ve failed me as an educator. You’ve failed me as a classmate. You’ve failed me as a friend and you’ve failed me as a peer. I can’t trust you because you stood by and ignored my pleas for change. I can’t trust you because you refused to decenter yourself. How can I trust you after you’ve shown me that you’re a shell of a human being, devoid of empathy and common sense? You singled me out and then you put me in a box. You’re fucking wrong and the reason why you won’t admit that is because you’re afraid of me and what I represent. You’ve been afraid of me ever since I turned thirteen - you cross the street when you see me. You lock your car doors when I walk past. You follow me around in stores. You ostracize me. You treat me like I’m not human and the more I think about it, it’s like you seek to destroy my faith in humanity.
No. 002 ( epigenetics + brain injury )
You killed all of my people. You enslaved my ancestors. You destroyed my land. You desecrated my home. You erased my culture and then you erased my language. I know you’re familiar with this list. You poisoned my food and you brought disease upon my family! You tried to take everything from me! You pitted my brothers and sisters against each other; you defiled my community with your lies and manipulation. I know who you really are! You raped my people and experimented with them like rats. You slaughtered and terrorized my ancestors like animals. You bombed our places of worship and mutilated our children. You called us your property; you treated us like objects because you’re sick! You betrayed nature. You told me, my brothers and my sisters that we didn’t love ourselves: you sought to control and destroy our perception of self and now, I can tell who you really are. You sought to manipulate me. You sought to control us, through fear and terror, trauma and genocide, pain and destruction, war, hunger, and scarcity, through gaslighting and cultural infiltration, through emotional abuse, dehumanization and perversion. I know your strategy. Ever since I was a kid, from every direction — mind, spirit, and body — you and your people have been trying to fucking kill me. I know who you really are! You’ve been trying to destroy everything that has to do with me. All these atrocities, death and annihilation, everything is passed down and embedded in my genes, my genetic history. Can you tell me how mind control works because I can tell you - it has everything to do with the intersection between the weaponization of limbic resonance and compounded generational trauma.
As children, what happens when we internalize this history? As adults, what happens when we choose to ignore the historical context of whiteness?
Often the lynch mob acted with haste, but on other occasions the lynching was a long-drawn out affair with speeches, food-eating, and, unfortunately, ritualistic and sadistic torture: victims were dragged behind cars, pierced with knives, burned with hot irons or blowtorches, had their fingers and toes cut off, had their eyes cut out, and were castrated -- all before being hanged or burned to death. One Mississippi newspaper referred to these gruesome acts as "Negro barbeques."
In many cases -- arguably in most cases -- lynch mobs had a particular target and confined their heinous aggression to a specific person. Blacks were lynched for a variety of accusations, ranging from murder, and rape (often not true), to trying to vote, and arguing with a white man. In 1938, a white man in Oxford, Mississippi declared that it was "about time to have another lynching. When the niggers get so they are not afraid of being lynched, it is time to put the fear in them." There were many blacks lynched randomly, to send a message of white supremacy to black communities. As noted by Dominic J. Capeci, a historian, when it came to lynching, "one black man served as well as another."
We often think of a mob as an insane, bloodthirsty collection of adult male ruffians. However, respectable community leaders, including police, often lynched blacks. Although women and children were not typically the active aggressors they were often in the audience; and, they, too, celebrated. There were "secret lynches," but there were many done publicly -- and planned. Of course, news of an impending lynching traveled fast. Lynching was a brutal attempt to reinforce white supremacy, but it was also entertainment -- and food was present.
According to Dray: "While attendees at lynchings did not take away a plate of food, the experience of having witnessed the event was thought incomplete if one did not go home with some piece of cooked human being; and there is much anecdotal evidence of lynch crowds either consuming food and drink while taking part in the execution, or retiring en masse immediately afterward for a meal or, in the case of a notorious immolation in Pennsylvania in 1911, ice cream sundaes." - Source
No. 003 ( release your anger )
Don’t pretend to all of a sudden care about black people - where were you three years ago? Where were you when I needed help? Remember how you ignored and gaslighted me when I spoke on my experience navigating white spaces? I’ve been speaking on and addressing racism and white supremacy for years, in my work, in my conversations, and in my actions. What have you really been doing? Remember how you consistently lied to me? How come your actions rarely match your words? I don’t trust you because you’ve already shown me how you’re completely full of shit. Donate all the money you want; sign as many petitions as you want - I know who you really are. You don’t give a fuck about black people until it becomes an opportunity for self aggrandizement, until your reputation is at stake, until it becomes a vanity project for you, until it becomes trendy and “mainstream”, until its in your interest to show your support as part of your brand’s PR campaign, in order to save face and preserve your black consumer base. Why should I trust you when you pick and choose when to treat me like a human being? Why does my right to be human have to be given to me, on your time table? Never in my life have I ever heard you even begin to address your role in perpetuating anti-blackness but now, all of a sudden, you care? I know who you really are - you’ve never shown even the slightest amount of empathy towards me unless it suited your agenda. Yet still, I extend compassion, as in sympathetic pity, to those who’ve hurt me and done me wrong. We’re all works in progress. Maybe I have fucking Stockholm syndrome or maybe I’m taking the high road.
No. 004 ( neglect )
I don’t care how many token black friends you have. I don’t give a fuck if you’re “kind” to black people. Kindness doesn’t mean shit - anti racist work was never about being kind. It’s about power transference and deconstructing white supremacy and dismantling (instead of ignoring) anti-blackness in your homes, in your community groups, in your schools, in your medical and clinical practices, in your art work, in your businesses, in your social and professional relationships, in your resource allocation programs, in your urban development and political institutions and in every other facet of this shit-for-brains society. Miss me with your superficial displays of kindness and all your empty performances and gutless gestures of sympathy. Fuck all that phony shit - I know who you really are. Step up to the plate, grow up and take responsibility for the role you play in this society or die trying. Look in the fucking mirror for once and see who you really are. Every single time I spoke about race in the past, you fucking ignored me!
No. 005 ( exposed )
I know who you really are. You can't fool me.
"Psychological violence by malignant narcissists can include verbal and emotional abuse, toxic projection, stonewalling, sabotage, smear campaigns, triangulation along with a plethora of other forms of coercion and control. This is imposed by someone who lacks empathy, demonstrates an excessive sense of entitlement and engages in interpersonal exploitation to meet their own needs at the expense of the rights of others.
As a result of chronic abuse, victims may struggle with symptoms of PTSD or Complex PTSD if they had additional traumas like being abused by narcissistic parents or even what is known as “Narcissistic Abuse Syndrome” (Staggs, 2016; Stailk, 2017). The aftermath of narcissistic abuse can include depression, anxiety, hypervigilance, a pervasive sense of toxic shame, emotional flashbacks that regress the victim back to the abusive incidents, and overwhelming feelings of helplessness and worthlessness."
"Racial trauma or race-based traumatic stress, is the cumulative effects of racism on an individual’s mental and physical health. It has been linked to feelings of anxiety, depression, and suicidal ideation, as well as other physical health issues."
"It is clear that racial discrimination is linked to negative mental health outcomes. Unfortunately, racial micro-aggressions are used today and is a more subtle form of racism. Racial micro-aggressions are hurtful comments that “convey hostile, derogatory, and/or invalidating meanings to people of color (Comas-Díaz, 2016). It is important to recognize that racial discrimination is not merely a negative experience but is a race-based traumatic stressor that triggers trauma responses in people who experience racism. More specifically, racial trauma refers to the “events of danger related to real or perceived experience of racial discrimination, threats of harm and injury, and humiliating and shaming events, in addition to witnessing harm to other ethnoracial individuals because of real or perceived racism” (Comas-Díaz, 2016).
Trauma reactions such as increased vigilance, heightened sensitivity, intrusive and painful memories, burnout and irritability, dissociation, and mental health problems such as depression and anxiety are a common response to racial trauma. Race-based traumatic stress trauma differs from posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in that victims are exposed to constant racial microaggressions (Comas-Díaz, 2016). While the content of the traumatic experience(s) may differ, the trauma responses are similar. The frequency, intensity, and pervasiveness of racial stereotypes, racial bias, and racial discrimination produce emotional and psychological distress as well as physiological stress reactions. Altogether, these racial traumas occur over and over again, resulting in what is termed racial battle fatigue. Racial battle fatigue is just that—- fatigue from hearing, seeing, and experiencing incessant racism and racial discrimination. Because individuals who face discrimination experience trauma symptoms similar to war veterans who experience PTSD symptoms, the racial “battle fatigue” occurs. This imagery connotes the arduous uphill battle and exhaustion that individuals and groups of people who face racial discrimination experience on a daily basis. If not dealt with, racial battle fatigue can lead to serious mental health problems and severe psychological distress."
"You don't love yourself."
This is white America's ongoing message to black, brown, and indigenous people, repeated and replicated by mainstream news and media, film and entertainment, public and private education, and more. Reproducing and capitalizing off of black pain, black labor, black subjugation and black self sabotage has always been the cornerstone of American culture.
What they do is never enough. This isn’t the time to circle up with other white people and discuss black pain in the abstract; it’s the time to acknowledge and examine the pain they’ve personally caused.⠀
Right now, many of my black friends are also experiencing the temporary phenomenon of the Outreach: a surge of “checking in” texts and emails, gifts, meals, and private DMs giving — and sometimes even seeking in the same message — support.⠀
This is the racial ouroboros our country finds itself locked in, as black Americans relive an endless loop of injustice and white Americans keep revisiting the same performance, a Broadway show that never closes, just goes on hiatus now and then. This is our own racial ouroboros. The chaos we see now stems in part from the chaos foisted upon us for generations. The injustice we protest isn’t rooted in just police killings; it lives also within housing and school choices; social and professional networks; the defunding of nonwhite organizations; the demotion and firing of black employees; the microaggressions and slights that happen at dinner parties, restaurants, cafes and concerts.⠀
The right acknowledgment of black justice, humanity, freedom and happiness won’t be found in your book clubs, protest signs, chalk talks or organizational statements. It will be found in your earnest willingness to dismantle systems that stand in our way — be they at your job, in your social network, your neighborhood associations, your family or your home. It’s not just about amplifying our voices, it’s about investing in them and in our businesses, education, political representation, power, housing and art. It starts, also, with reflection on the harm you’ve probably caused in a black person’s life. It may have happened when you were 10, 16, 22, 36 or 42. Comforting as it may be to read and discuss the big questions about race and justice and America, making up for past wrongs means starting with the fact that you’ve done wrong in the past, perhaps without realizing it at the time...
In 9th grade, my spanish teacher nicknamed me, the only black kid in the class, "peligroso" [dangerous], and she also nicknamed the only Mexican kid in the class "frijole" [bean]. All the white kids laughed.
Did you know one morning your dad pulled me aside and told me to be careful walking around alone in your neighborhood because i'm black and your neighbors might think i'm a criminal? Its ironic because just a few days later, I got followed, chased and robbed down the street.
Racism is everywhere, around every corner, on every screen: it's reach its total and its messaging is clear. No matter where I lived, the game never changed – if your skin is brown then you’re a target. If you’re black, you’re a target and the inevitable question arises: why?
I’ve lived down the street from gunfire, home invasions, and violence but, as stated earlier, I’ve also lived in gated communities and luxury homes in all white neighborhoods – I’ve seen both sides and let me tell you this: colonization is real and its benefactors don’t care enough to do anything about it, especially if it threatens business as usual. Virtue signaling is prevalent, talk is cheap and lip service is common in intellectual spaces: social issues turn into trivia contests and people don’t understand what it really takes. People live their lives inside of cultural and linguistic illusions, unable to see reality.
Anyways, my family did not immigrate: we are indigenous to this land – my story is one of navigating, surviving, and resisting the machinery of colonization. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, my ancestors resisted assimilation through establishing their own Indian Schools in North Carolina while simultaneously going to war with members of the Ku Klux Klan, representatives of the American agenda. Fast forward one hundred years and nothing has changed: resistance is in my blood as I seek resolution in this generational, ancestral conflict. The American agenda expresses itself in a myriad of ways but regardless of its expression, its destination is always the same: the extermination of indigenous agency for the sake of realizing, bringing into focus, and completing the colonizer program.
Somebody tell me why the Tasmanian exchange student has been calling me "nig-nog" for the past three months. Also, tell me why my friends keep laughing.
No. 008 ( tenth grade + betrayal )
How dare you implicate me in your poor decisions - you're a fucking liar. You decided to light that girl's hair on fire, nobody else. You, a white boy, decided to light that black girl's hair on fire on the bus. Why are you spreading misinformation, claiming that I told you to do that? I thought we were friends. Did you know my mom had to convince that girl's mother not to sue and press charges? Did you know your mom stood outside my fucking house and cried, sobbing as she said "I don't know what do with my son" in the middle of the week as if people don't have to go to work and school tomorrow. This is same woman who, years ago, said my older brother, who was a third grader at the time, was somehow a bad influence on you. How dare you - because of your lies, the entire faculty thinks I'm some kind of violent social pariah who encourages assault now. I received what they call a "Class A Violation" and was banned from riding the bus, even though I live 50 minutes away from the school. You put so much stress on my family. I was punished for something that you did! You lit that girl's hair on fire! I had to write that girl's mother a long letter of apology for something I didn't do. You saw that black girl as an object, existing solely for your sadistic entertainment. For you to even attempt to ignite a lighter and set fire to that girl's hair, on a moving bus, in the middle of the freeway, is fucking crazy. What if she had product in her hair? The sickest thing is, you told me you were "feeling mischievous" that day as if that's supposed to rationalize your decisions. How dare you try to implicate me in this, after all our years of friendship.
In 2015, I asked my white friend: "Do you ever think about what it would feel like if you looked around and everyone around you was black?"
He laughed and said "no, i never think about that."
He went on to say: "that would feel really, really weird."
I said: "That's how it is for me all the time. Everywhere I go, every time I walk outside, I am surrounded by white people. No one looks like me and they treat me like a thing, like i'm not fucking human."
From my college application in 2013:
I am a firm believer that experiential education is the key to understanding one’s experience. In addition, I know that my purpose is to cultivate an awareness of genuine activism through experience – activism on every level, be it socio-economics, politics, or racism. My belief comes from my experience not only as a black male attending a predominantly white private high school, but it is also rooted in my life experience before high school. I was born in Oakland, California; my family then moved many times between multiple cities and towns which exposed me to many different types of people and cultures, ways of behavior. This diversity of people became an integral part of my childhood. As I grew up, I assumed that this reality of diversity was the way it has always been. After moving, I eventually ended up in Oakland, the city where I started, where I would attend a private school located 45 minutes to an hour away in a suburb. Immediately, my reality began to change. There was no diversity in people, or in opinion. The other students were astonishingly wealthy when I was not. I was met with ignorant, eurocentric, naïve, racist, and classist comments almost on a daily basis, both in and outside the classroom.
This was a new reality to me and it sparked something inside of me.
I would contrast the reality seen at my school with the realities of Oakland and the realities of my memories from the other places I had lived in and I came to the conclusion that something was wrong. I began to research issues surrounding class and race; I strove to understand the underpinnings of western thought as well. I wanted to understand every single aspect of our society, every system, and every form of oppression. I wanted to raise my awareness of my experience so that I would be better equipped when faced with forms of oppression and strife. I began to see that one of the main issues was rooted in the curriculums of private and public education. The students at my school and other schools learn almost, if not everything from a text book and I found that when this happened, students tend to see everything as an image – they cannot relate to the material that they are learning. This is why students tend to show indifference and disregard to systems such as racism, classism, sexism, homophobia, war, and economics. They are not convinced that these systems have a direct personal impact on their lives.
This is why I am now an advocate for experiential education but there is another layer to this. In my experience, schools tend to teach subjects as if they exist in a vacuum – this is a fatal flaw in education. I am applying to ********* ***** ******* because it is all about interdisciplinary learning which is essential for a thorough and impactful educational experience. It allows real growth and to touch back on experiential education, one does not experience anything in a vacuum. Everything is connected so in a way, interdisciplinary learning is analogous to actual experience. At this point in my life, it is like this is what I’ve always needed. I need a platform that will allow me to finally connect the dots in my educational journey and in life. I have seen firsthand what experiential and interdisciplinary learning can do as well. Sophomore year, I was working, with three other people, on a project in which the prompt was the following: find a way to change the world in a month. The other members of my group were discouraged with the prompt but I went into it headstrong and became the leader of the group. I introduced the group members to the concept of autonomy and what I believed to be the nature of society – that in some respects, we lack autonomy.
The other members of the group began to apply the concepts to their own lives and in a few days, they all were eager to collaborate with me on the project. One student created a poster demonstrating our ideas to the class, and the other students and I presented the ideas through a discussion with the class. Each of us had a comprehensive understanding of what we were saying and the instructor was extremely surprised, not only giving us an ‘A’, but she even thanked us after class for pushing the boundaries of the class material. I believe that this was only a snippet of what actual interdisciplinary and experiential education is capable of and this is one of primary reasons why I am applying to ********* ***** *******.
In eighth grade, this white girl convinced herself that I was coming to school drunk and told her parents who then told the other parents who told the other parents. Through the grapevine, my friend's mother heard and confronted my mother about it over the phone. I’ve never come to school drunk. To this day, I rarely drink. In eighth grade, I remember thinking about this girl spreading lies about me.
Hello! I was looking at the course catalog for spring registration and your class in particular grabbed my attention. I am a multimedia and performance artist who is a returning ********* student transferring in from ********** ** *** **** for the spring quarter. After reading the course description for this program, I decided that it would be an ideal fit for me. For the project proposal, I would like to conduct an in depth study on the conventionalization of form (in a myriad of contexts) and its relationship to social organization, identity, and the ways in which we construct our cultural models of reality. When I think of art, I think of language and when I think of language, I think of the subject-object dichotomy that lies at its foundation. I’d like to be given the opportunity to perform a critical analysis and exposition of the object, how it has evolved throughout modern history, and what role representational and symbolic language systems have played in this process. If given this opportunity to join this program, I would be consolidating and conducting extensive research on modern art movements such as Futurism, Dada, and Surrealism, as these were all reactions to the failures and motivations of modern and postmodern life. I would then tie this research together with an analysis using logics borrowed from a particular branch of critical theory pioneered by a French social theorist named Guy Debord. My studio work would include a large series of acrylic paintings demonstrating an abstraction of three dimensional space coupled with a complementary series of digital photography. You can find a few earlier examples of these painted abstractions in my portfolio. I am also open to adding more and building upon this initial proposal in order to make the overall project stronger. All of my work will be contextualized by one driving theme or general thesis concerning a radical critique of objectification as a cultural habit. I hope my portfolio demonstrates that I am capable and have the ability to execute all of this. If you have any detailed or specific questions, I'd be more than happy to give you more information.
On Friday night, I took ****** to this spot that **** and I used to chill at on Wilton Drive back when we were fifteen. It’s a little bench overlooking Mt. Diablo and the surrounding hills. We were just sitting there having a conversation. After following us, you and the rest of the neighbors decided to target and harass us, getting in our face and shouting about how we don't belong and "aren't welcome in that neighborhood". We weren’t doing anything illegal or suspicious. I've been hanging out here for over a decade. When you chased me out that neighborhood, I felt like an intruder in my own backyard. You were seconds away from escalating the situation by calling the police. Why do you think you can dictate where I can and can’t go? Why do you hate me? What did I ever do to you? I wish I could go back and tell you that you and the rest of the neighbors should all be fucking ashamed of themselves. This was like the final omen that told me to get the fuck out of Oakland, the closest thing I had to a sense of home (at the time).
No. 008 ( racial bias, again )
During our meeting on Wednesday, you, a middle-aged white woman, literally. admitted that you have a racial bias against me.You called me, one of the only black students in the class “combative and aggressive” for asking a simple question, in a normal tone. Why do you perceive me as threatening? All I asked was for clarification about the assignment (because you and *** kept on switching the prompt) but instead of doing your fucking job, you singled me out and proceeded to grade me unfairly. You perceive me in particular as being "combative and aggressive".
You literally said: “if you can have your bias, why can’t I have mine?”. What kind of question is that? You are the professor – you grading me based on your racial bias is completely inappropriate, unprofessional, racist, and unfair treatment. I am a student, paying tuition, and deserve better. I will not let you and your colleagues collectively vilify and gaslight me into subordination and compliance. You should be fucking fired.
In second grade, every single day at school, my white friend Timmy would constantly smack me in the face as hard as he could because he thought it was fun. He did this until I smashed his face on the play structure and chipped his tooth to teach him to stop fucking with me.
I wanted to write and follow up after a long semester. I am not sure whether **** ***** ever met with you, but I want to come around the subject of our meeting earlier this year, and see if you would like to have further conversation. First let me say that I believe I treated the preliminary situation of classroom venting poorly. I heard your conversation, and came at the subject from a defensive place rather than letting you speak freely about your dissatisfaction with the assessment strategies of my colleagues. For that, I apologize. I truly believe that there could have been a more satisfying conversation about expectations and assessment, and I am sorry that the meeting we had as a group became fully unproductive.
On another note, I want to say that I am encouraged by the way that you stayed engaged for the rest of the semester and have improved your academic status by showing up physically and intellectually in the modules that followed Research Systems.
In your future schooling, please see the criticism and conversation around the work we do (both students and faculty) as something designed to BUILD and STRENGTHEN us from the place we are. All of us are working hard to be strong artists, teachers and collaborators, and NONE of us are perfect at these jobs. But the only way we can understand our own impact is to stay open to improvement, and this is a crucial part of *******'s mission. Constructive criticism is the way all of us stay active and humble to the wisdom of others.
I have great confidence in your confidence, and admire your fiery dedication to a multiplicity of disciplinary approaches. I wish you all the best as you move forward into new possibilities at this school."
"I am writing to recommend Ellis Wilson for admission to the **********. ******* ** *** ****. I first taught Ellis in my Philosophy of Asia in the spring semester of his junior year. Ellis intuitively grasped the abstract concepts in Hinduism, Daoism and Buddhism and was able to explain sophisticated ideas with clarity to the rest of his classmates. In fact, he was so insightful that I too began to see the texts in a new light, although I have studied them for nearly twenty years. He mastered difficult philosophical texts with ease and began to incorporate new ideas into his already sophisticated personal worldview, which he has worked to articulate to others both in and out of class. In fact, Ellis is one of the few students I know who spends much of his free time in philosophical discussions with his friends, refining his theories on human nature and the systems we live in. Although he has not studied twentieth century Western philosophers, he has come up with his own ideas about the limiting factors of language and the isolation people face in an industrialized age. I can’t wait for him to grapple with more philosophy courses in college: Ellis is a thinker and he needs the space to articulate his thoughts.
I also had the opportunity to attend a conference on race and privilege with Ellis and a few other students in Seattle last year. Ellis and I discussed presentations in depth and I enjoyed hearing his insights into what he had learned. It was interesting to watch him grapple with the intersection of race and privilege, and find solidarity with others who were exploring their own identity, particularly in the elite world of private education. I also saw Ellis perform his spoken word poetry, expressing his experiences as a young black man and while it was the first time he had performed in public, he was poised and confident. His poetry is descriptive and filled with emotion, demonstrating how Ellis often thinks outside of the box as he contemplates why the world is the way it is and what solutions there might be for injustice. I hope that Ellis will continue to pursue creative outlets for his intellectual interests in college—I have no doubt that he would find an appreciative audience. It is without hesitation that I recommend Ellis Wilson."
One day, the chickens will come home to roost.
Ever since I met Ellis I’ve been impressed by his depth of inquiry and his ability to analyze and make connections. In my time at ********, I have never met a student who so clearly understood Socrates as a freshman and was able to apply the idea of the social contract to contemporary issues. This was impressive and I told Ellis as much. Yet, in his early years, his laid back approach in the class, aside from his writing, was a detractor. Every student had their kryptonite and Ellis’s was seemingly boredom in Humanities courses that slugged along at a pace that clearly annoyed him.
I knew this, because I frequently spoke with Ellis outside of class. On Interim trips, read is poetry and even got into some very deep discussions with the young man that all reminded me nothing of a high school student. Ellis reminded me of a second year in college, comfortable with their workload and using their time in college to expand their minds in dialogue and learning outside of the class. This was Ellis in a nutshell and I worried as I saw his name on my roster, if he would be bored with a second semester, honors level course on critical race theory and dialogue I’d be teaching.
The exact opposite was the case. Ellis has been my most dedicated participant and remains so to this day. He has embraced the material and elevated its consumption among his peers with his ability to connect it with other courses and daily life. Ellis has been one of my strongest students and my most active participants in class. Gone is the bored Ellis from freshman year, and what I see these days is a student ready for the challenges beyond High School, with a sharp intellect and a work ethic to match.
I would also add that during his time at ********, Ellis has been a leader in the work towards real Equity and Inclusion on campus.
When you told my mom that the substitute teacher was "pretty for a nigger", what was going through your head?
"I also think it is important for Ellis to think about how to best approach a situation or another person when he is frustrated. Language choice, tone and attitude are all important aspects of communication. While Ellis's letter certainly gets my attention, it may not be the best approach for facilitating positive change. When I receive an angry complaint, I am immediately put on the defensive. I am less likely to really understand and consider the issue and more likely to respond negatively. Ellis is very bright, has interesting perspectives and important things to say! I would love to see him communicate his ideas with his teachers and classmates on a regular basis with a bit less cynicism! I'm not suggesting he should not be angry or frustrated at things that happen, but just that in life, sometimes we have to put some of that aside to communicate our point."
Boy, Girl, Man, Woman, Black, and White are all part of a larger taxonomic system that is integral to the machinery of colonization: “You are what I say you are”, the colonizer says to the colonized. This is the maxim of the old world, wherein your identity and the world in which it operates is handed down and prescribed to you by an authoritative institution under threat of violence, social destitution, or death – play this role, read this script, act this part or be discarded and erased. In the case of the African Diaspora, the erasure of the slave’s native tongue happened in tandem with the renaming of their reality: the slave is coerced into describing their universe using the master’s vocabulary and through this coercion, the master consequently mediates and arbitrates the slave’s self-concept, which in turn dictates the content of the slave’s reality.
"Ellis, you are a talented and creative artist, but you are not working to your full potential in Advanced Art class this term! You have not actually completed an art project during the first six weeks of class. You have great ideas and nice drawings in your sketchbook, but you need to start working on the art
You often spend entire class periods thinking about what you want to do, writing, or planning out ideas. While this is an important part of the artistic process, it is not the only part of the process. You also have two missing sketchbook assignments from early in the term which can still be handed in for partial credit. As you know, you are fully capable of getting an A in Advanced Art class. To accomplish that, you need to spend each class fully engaged in the process of making art. You need to start a project and complete it. And you need to take yourself more seriously. No more stick figures. If you
continue to have difficulty knowing what to do, you can do the class projects or I can assign you another advanced project. I hope to see a shift in your approach soon. I know you can do it and create amazing art pieces for your portfolio."
This morning, before class, I had to listen to my brother tell me how this white woman just shouted and called him and his friend "niggers" over and over again in public, in broad daylight. She continuously. yelled: "you niggers think you own this park?!" What the fuck is wrong with these people?
Racial trauma, or race-based traumatic stress (RBTS), refers to the mental and emotional injury caused by encounters with racial bias and ethnic discrimination, racism, and hate crimes. Any individual that has experienced an emotionally painful, sudden, and uncontrollable racist encounter is at risk of suffering from a race-based traumatic stress injury. In the U.S., Black, Indigenous People of Color (BIPOC) are most vulnerable due to living under a system of white supremacy.
Experiences of race-based discrimination can have detrimental psychological impacts on individuals and their wider communities.
In some individuals, prolonged incidents of racism can lead to symptoms like those experienced with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This can look like depression, anger, recurring thoughts of the event, physical reactions (e.g. headaches, chest pains, insomnia), hypervigilance, low-self-esteem, and mentally distancing from the traumatic events. Some or all of these symptoms may be present in someone with RBTS and symptoms can look different across different cultural groups. It is important to note that unlike PTSD, RBTS is not considered a mental health disorder. RBTS is a mental injury that can occur as the result of living within a racist system or experiencing events of racism
"Life is easy, and kinda boring. I need to get out of my comfort zone or something", says my white friend.
"A burnt child dreads the fire.
It has become almost proverbial that those who smile the most are those who have been hurt the most.
Those who were once kind and loving usually were the way with everyone. Those people were sometimes laughed at, taken advantage of and hurt by others who did not care to reciprocate their feelings. However, they kept on going. They still treated everyone nicely and hoped the bad experience won’t repeat themselves.
However, humans can only bear anything so much. Therefore, those who were once kind and loving to everyone, start being prudent in who they treat well. They shunned those who they knew earlier and knew that those people took advantage of them. After that, they start behaving less amicably towards everyone in general, so as to not give the wrong impression of open for looting. This does not happen overnight. It is a gradual process. After that comes the next stage. The few people who are close to them start taking them for granted. They take advantage of them again and again. However, since they are such an integral part of their lives, it takes a big change to get away from them, such as a big fight, big betrayal, job change or education in a distant place. After that, they think that it was for the better that they left them as it had become draining, not only mentally but emotionally as well.
Finally, they have space left for none and one if they are still hopeful. However, they had had their lesson and now are pretty sure that everyone out there is only to hurt them or take advantage of them. It is a bomb waiting to explode the moment they extend the loving hand to someone. They become skeptical of people who extend the loving hand towards them, even if it sincere. After that, they just wait for a miracle to happen that will restore their happiness, because there is still all of it inside, but it is now locked behind the strong walls of mistrust built by a lifetime of agony and betrayal. However, they are still smiling on the outside, just enough to get the job done. However, once you get to observe their lifestyle and routine, you will notice that they are utterly alone. What is worse is that you cannot do anything to gain their trust, which was broken again and again, unless you are the special person who is willing to go the extra mile to see them happy again; which, of course, is not many people willing to do."
“A kind hearted person smiles even though their own feelings and emotions are in conflict, they will forgive others even though they are taken advantage of over and over again , they endure even though they are blamed and when people continuously make false assumptions about them, they keep obeying even though they are manipulated, they are supportive even though there is no one to show gratitude towards them .
But even the most kind hearted has their limits…..
When a kind hearted person is pushed to far beyond their limits, when a kind hearted person carries the weight of negativity. Negative emotions grow in their mind to the point they can no longer take it . When this happens they no longer care, they get depressed, they get mentally ill and from this a cold heart is born.
Once they are cold hearted they no longer care about anyone else , they have no more positive feelings and the love they gave to others before no longer means anything to them and when people try to apologize they might give a psychopathic laugh because of the darkness and pain that they feel.
A cold hearted person might've been someone who cared to much and eventually a kind hearted person will turn cold and that's when you know they've been pushed too far.”