I’m honestly surprised that it took me until my 9th post to bring up One Million Bones: New Orleans aka my baby chil’ that I have worked so super hard on and is about to grow up and leave my life. But really. Here is a brief summary of the project:
One Million Bones is a social arts initiative geared towards raising awareness and funds for victims and survivors of genocide through art and education. Students across the US have participated by hand-making bones. These bones will be displayed on the National Mall in Washington, DC June 8-10, 2013 as an artistic representation of the atrocities witnessed everyday in other countries.
One Million Bones: New Orleans has partnered locally with over 40 schools, universities, businesses and community organizations to contribute over 67,000 bones (and dollars) to the national goal of 1,000,000 bones.
Since I began working on this project in NOLA in April of 2012 I have said that we (New Orleans) have a special connection with this project. For this reason I wanted to reach as many middle and high school students as possible, especially students in failing schools. I believed that these students understood the project better than most, and they also needed the message of hope and change more than others.
I use this prezi to introduce the word “genocide” and various aspects there of. We talk about who genocide affects, where it has happened, how it happens.
WHO: Most of the students understand right off the bat that genocide affects everybody. That it is not something that happens in a vacuum. The most interesting conversations came from our discussions about child soldiers. I think this is because they are the same ages as these children. One thing that I found shocking was that many students were not shaken when we talked about what child soldiers do (drugs, murder family members, etc). They also understand that if it happens to other people it can also happen to us.
WHERE: Most students could only name the Holocaust. Don’t get me wrong the Holocaust was a tragedy, but it is not the only genocide. I then bring up this map of the world. I explain that each blue dot is a different country where genocide has occurred. I have them name countries they see: America, Mexico, Australia, Japan, China, Russia, Sudan, Germany, and so on. This blew their mind.
HOW: I then ask the students to tell me how this can happen. What makes people capable of killing other people. The most popular answers are: hate, fear, power, greed and ignorance. Some others are: scapegoating, violence and learned behavior. We discussed each one and then concluded that they are connected.
This takes us from the global to the local: New Orleans.
NEW ORLEANS: I then ask “what is one thing New Orleans is known for”. Without missing a beat the students reply “murder”. We then discuss the similarities. WHO: Everyone, but mostly the black community, and primarily young, black, males. WHERE: All over New Orleans. There is no “safe” or “dangerous” neighborhoods by the classic urban definition; no community goes untouched. HOW: hate, fear, power, greed and ignorance; scapegoating, violence and learned behavior.
All in all my personal goal for OMB:NOLA is to have New Orleans students learn more about their world, but also see that there is value in service and activism. I ask “what do we do? What do you do? Throw up your arms and say ‘hope I don’t get shot today.’ ” Most say no. Some students have fought me on their ability to make change. Saying “What can I do? I am one person. I can’t do anything” To which I responded “You can make a change. It may be small. Maybe you don’t sell drugs anymore, and your cousin sees you and he stops selling drugs, then your auntee stops selling drugs, then before you know it your it your block is drug free. Individual change is what collective change is made of.” I also impress upon them that I cannot make the change, they need to make the change.
Here are some pictures from some of our events.
Anna’s Arts for Kids:
Tommy proudly showing his spine!
Me teaching Bre, Gabby, Serenity and Taliya how to make a sacrum!
The girls showing off their work.
The reality of violence is more jarring when interpreted by children.
Deckbar & Martyn Alternative:
Me teaching students about genocide.
We did a mini installation with all 500 bones that they made.
One student has really taken the project to heart.
Students bonding over the creativity of the project.
Working diligently on ribs.
Showing the students how to make long bones.
Each bone has a name, a story, a life, a loss.
The girls showing that they exceeded their 500 bones goal!
Students with Ms. Delone!
Showing the students how to make bones.
Son of a Saint:
Me & Sonny with the crew!
Local to Global: 10,000 Installation
OMB:NOLA put on an installation linking the local and global issues addressed by this project. Students from Anna’s Arts, Urban League College Track, Tulane and the community came out to participate!
Devin, Janelle, Emmanuel, Breial, Sonia and I in front of the murder board. (over 1,200 names since 2007)
Urban League College Track:
My amaaaazing students making bones!
Damien showing his pelvis that he dedicated to his friend.
Anastasia and her friend writing the names of those murdered in Orleans and Jefferson Parishes on bones.
The point? Nobody asks about what is really going on in New Orleans and what is really happening to our children. But these children are making a difference one by one. The only thing that I can hope is that this project rubbed of on them and they will continue to recognize the violence but work towards hope and change. These students have forever changed my life for the better, and for that, I thank them.
***OMB:NOLA and Second Line teaming up are offering 10 high school students who have participated the opportunity to travel to Washington, DC for the National Mall Installation, all expenses paid! This will be an amazing opportunity for local New Orleans youth to not only travel to the U.S. capitol but also to participate in the culmination of all of their hard work.
The funds raised will go towards student travel costs (flight & metro), hotel rooms for 3 nights and food.
I would also like to encourage everyone to check out our GoFundMe page and donate!