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Capsule: Let’s Talk About Race

Race is especially present in the stories we tell, how we hear the stories of others, or if we even hear certain stories at all, for that matter. Even though race doesn’t exist in the biological sense, it would be hard to find another force in our society more powerful. For this Capsule, we invited storytellers to share their personal thoughts and experiences about how race and racism impact their lives.

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Thank you to our youth contributors! This project wouldn’t be possible without the support of the Minnesota State Arts Board and partnerships with the Children’s Theatre CompanyLakeview ElementaryBrown But Black Voices, and Ozone Creation

  • All Capsule Stories
  • Brown But Black Voices
  • Children’s Theatre Company
  • Lakeview
  • Ozone Creations

Grace // 10th grade

“My classmates designed a game in which they would come up to me and try and pronounce my name. None of them ever could.”

Hallie // 10th grade

“Remember where you came from. Remember the rice paddies and blazing sun and Peking duck and polluted skies that are your own. Remember your heart, your dragon, your fire.”

Jasper // 11th grade

“I was born on May 25th. And if that day sounds familiar, it’s the same day George Floyd was killed.”

De’Anthony // 7th grade

“Two police cars pulled up. They approached my brother and they handcuffed him and put him against the front of the car. My mother was very upset.”

Arameni // 6th grade

“We need to recognize our personal and historical negative patterns and start a new pattern based on understanding empathy and revolutionary love.”

Anja // 8th grade

“Being biracial can be pretty difficult a lot of times. There are days where I feel like my cultural worlds are totally on opposite poles of this world.”

Evan // 11th grade

“During the COVID lockdown after the murder of George Floyd, I was confused. There were so many questions and not enough answers.”

KateMarie // 12th grade

“My teacher used the common excuses like ‘I have black friends’, her being a white woman trying to justify that she said the N word.”

KiKi // 5th grade

“Me and my family were at the George Floyd Square. My mom was tearing up, my dad was crying and my sister was crying. And I didn’t want to cry because I wanted to be strong for my sister”

Kasia // 4th grade

“I wash my hair on odd days. I love my hair because it’s curly and puffy. This is why my hair is special.”

Fhrrah // 5th grade

“When I get my hair done and I get some weave in my hair, people will ask me if I dyed my hair in our hate that when people ask me that because people look at me weird.”

Brianna // 5th grade

“What I love about being a black girl is that we have good food, good culture, good music. We can wear braids and beads and our our beads click clacking down the street.”

Tavi // 4th grade

“The black girl role model I look up to is That Girl Lay Lay because she’s confident and she’s not afraid to speak her mind.”

Aniyah // 5th grade

“I love being black because I feel so good when we sing songs about our history. like Harriet Tubman and Martin Luther King Jr.”

Alison // 12th grade

“I’ve learned how racism has been institutionalized through the various systems that make up our country.”

A.M. // 11th grade

“In fifth grade, an older student told me that I looked like a monkey because of a hair on my arms. He didn’t know that I was going to shave my hair off for four more years after that.”

Avery // 10th grade

“Sometimes people say things to me. Because I’m half Chinese, they don’t realize that, it’s hurtful to me.”

Maria

“I try to wipe off the brown of my skin because I thought that I was genuinely dirty. And my mom said ‘What are you doing? You’re not dirty. This is your beautiful skin.'”

Janna // 7th grade

“Every time I ride in the car and a police car passes by, I think, what if they think I stole something or did something wrong?”

Mathias // 6th grade

“There are so many parts of who I am to share, I’m a dancer, actor, I am outspoken and creative, and I am caring. I also am adopted.”

Kamila // 7th grade

“My parents were both born in Ecuador, and I was born in the United States. My first language was Spanish.”

Jackson // 11th grade

“The art teacher would constantly mix me up with all the other black students. I just don’t understand how you can mix this up because we are clearly different people.”

Julius // 12th grade

“The first thing he asked me, he says, ‘Are you from the hood, where your guns and drugs?’.”

Grace // 11th grade

“Even though things are in the past. And they might be considered history in a textbook, they affect real life people today.”

Jean-Paul

“You can’t let anybody define you or tell you who you are. Sometimes you could take the negativity of situation and flip it into a positive triumph.”

Bakari

“I just really love using music as a vehicle and a means of creation to manifest the state I wish to be in.”

Maisa // 12th grade

“Being born to immigrants that fled a civil war in Somalia, I didn’t realize that I would face a ton of microaggressions during my first year as a freshman in high school.”

Mac

“What was in my head was more just assimilate, trying to fit in with what they already had going on, rather than being myself because I didn’t really know who myself was, at the time.”

Julianna // 11th grade

“I’ve been one of the only faces of color within a grouping of white children.”

Quetzali

“I think that the hardest part about growing up in this Hispanic culture and being a first generation, Mexican American is just being independent. Especially being a girl in Hispanic culture.”

Sumer

“One kid blurted out, that’s not your mom, you’re adopted. And I remember I couldn’t even breathe. All the kids started laughing. And I just remember running out crying.”

Gabe // 4th grade

“I was outraged that the teacher did not do anything. It was a racial slur.”

Tierney // 4th grade

“I was at the Mall of America and there were a lot of Somalian people. And this kid that came with us, called them monkeys. I know that’s not right.”

Tarodji // 4th grade

“One day me and my friend were at the park. Another kid came up to us and said, ‘What’s your color?’.”

Rain // 4th grade

“How I feel about racist people is that it makes me upset and curious.”

Leah // 4th grade

“I’m an Asian girl that gets compared to a lot of other Asian girls. They assume that I’m a Korean girl, a Chinese girls, a lot of other girls, I’m just a Burmese girl.”

Dahalia // 4th grade

“Some kids came up to me and said, You shouldn’t be playing with these black kids come play with us. And I said, these are my friends, I’m going to play with whoever I want to play with.”

Ava & King // 4th grade

“He said the N word, which made me really mad. And then he apologized to the whole entire class but I felt like it didn’t mean anything.”

Anthony // 4th grade

“Some people on the news, were chasing somebody, a black guy, and it made me upset.”

Makieya & Iyannia // 4th grade

“When that boy said that about us, I feel kind of sad and mad a little, because that’s really racist and that hurt my feelings.”

Michelle // 4th grade

“I will never be embarrassed of my culture, because that’s what makes me different and unique.”

Mykah // 4th grade

“It made me feel like why did he choose to pull us over out of all cars that he could have pulled over?”

Makai // 4th grade

“I told her that she was racist. And then I had to go to the office. It made me and it made me very mad. Life isn’t fair.”

Declan // 4th grade

“I’m proud of being myself. I love my language. I’m connected with my mom by singing and dancing to Mexican music.”

Obi

“This song (“Eguw Meri”) means “The Song of the Victorius”. I wrote it the day of the verdict in the George Floyd murder trial.”

Genesis // 8th grade

“I am Black. And my school marks me under African American. But nobody in my family is African at all.”

Partnership Organizations

We partnered with Children’s Theatre Company and their production of Something Happened In Our Town to share stories from the cast connected to themes addressed in the show. Something Happened in Our Town follows two families as they discuss a police shooting of a Black man in their community. The story aims to answer children's questions about such traumatic events, and to help them identify and counter racial injustice in their own lives.

The fourth grade at Lakeview Elementary in Robbinsdale, Minnesota, immersed themselves in Wildling storytelling techniques this past school year. We spent an afternoon with a group of these students, recording their stories. You might notice that the sound quality is impacted by the school environment—doors opening and closing, people talking in the background, pages turning. You might also notice that some kids preferred to share their stories together. This is a true representation of a bustling learning environment and makes this collection of stories particularly authentic and meaningful.

Brown But Black Voices

Brown But Black Voices, founded by Kaydee Gleplay and Alexis Barman, has a mission to celebrate and acknowledge individualism among Black women and girls by empowering them to speak their truths, share in community with one another, and build a positive self-image. They spent the year meeting with a group of young girls at the Harold Mezile North Community YMCA and recorded stories based on the themes they discussed in their sessions.

Our beloved Wildling story coach, Sumer Powell, is also a member of Ozone Creations: a group of artists and musicians based in the Midwest who seek to serve as a hub for Afrofusion in the United States. Their mission is to promote cultural importance, positivity, and authenticity through the medium of music. Each of the members of Ozone Creations agreed to submit their own story—several include musical expressions with accompanying explanations.

 

Story Booth is a fiscal year 2021 recipient of a Creative Support for Individuals grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board. This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.