Today for our discussion portion of the day we read “How to date a brown girl (black girl, white girl, or halfie)” by Junot Diaz. The girls agreed that it was a story that managed to be both funny and serious, employing stereotypes but in a satirical way that allowed the story to depict “real” biases while retaining a respectful narrative. Diaz’s story turned out to be an excellent jumping-off point for a wide-ranging conversation about race and racism, gender norms and misogyny, and socio-economic inequalities, among other topics. We also talked about standards of beauty, cycles of poverty, and stereotyping. It was a fantastic discussion, and everyone was engaged and sharp. I’m sure the girls are ready to jump into our next reading and discussion, which will be about Orientalism and negative stereotyping.
For our workshop today we continued work on a mural that we started last session. This is a long-term project, and we’ve been having a lot of discussions about the role of art in promoting peace. The mural will depict negative/violent representations of Somalia and the United States that will be physically covered by banners and other pieces of cloth that have been decorated to symbolize peace, healing, and collaborative/diverse coexistance. We spent today finding inspiring words of peace in English, Arabic, and Somali and writing these powerful messages across gold banners of cloth. Under the guidance of the artist Kat Gilles, this mural looks like it’s going to turn out to be an amazing success. We’ll keep you posted!