Dear First Lady Michelle Obama (and whoever else reads this),
I wrote a letter to you a few years ago, and in the wonderful response was an encouragement to keep working towards something that was good for our country. So I have. Pretty much non-stop since then. What I've listed below about inherent "visual prejudices" is just the tip of the iceberg.
Let me briefly tell you a little about myself first. I was born in a very small town in eastern Ohio. My father had been a drill instructor in the Marines and my mother is a born again conservative Christian. By the time I was in high school, I'd held a weapon in my hand more than a musical instrument. One of the few ways many of us found to express ourselves was through violence, and the way to a better world was thought to be through war. It wasn't until later in life I learned the errors of those ways. Since then, I've made a very good career in the arts as a designer for theater and film, and have even held a significant university position.
I'd always done well in school despite poor public school resources, had a very successful career as a designer prior to teaching, and was always considered pretty "smart." A few years ago I was tested and found out how much so. I feel like I've just realized I have a very unique gift, and the past few years I've been trying to figure out what to do with it. I've been lucky enough in my career to have travelled the world and see how different people see the same thing. I've also seen the power that a shared experience can have on large groups of people. So I thought I'd figure out why, since it was a language that I knew more than anything else.
(And I can't express enough my intention behind all of this is for the best. I'd like to think that there is a way for all of us, not only in this country but around the world, to move forward as one. If I imply anything, or use a designation incorrectly it is only out of my own stupidity and ignorance.)
I've been working on a couple things. One in particular is a scientific look at what I'll refer to as inherent visual prejudices when we see the world around us. It has always made sense to me as an artist, but summed up with scientific research to support the idea has lead to a unique observation as to why humans behave a certain way. Carried further into the decision making process, a possible explanation for things like brutality and racism can be understood a little more. I've put this exploration into different formats to be viewed, if you're interested. The "Overview" is a little dry, but states the scientific methodologies that will be used. It's not necessary for you to watch the video or explore the Prezi, it's designed to lay the research ground work for the follow-up, "Why we feel what we see." A conclusion may be insignificant, but who knows. I'm also aware of the danger of its misinterpretation. (I use Shakespeare and Stormtroopers from Star Wars to demonstrate the effect of visual stimuli.)
Why we feel what we see- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wY0eKhtVakA
Why we feel what we see- http://prezi.com/j_fefi-z4n5e/?utm_campaign=share&utm_medium=copy.
As I'm not one to leave a problem without a solution...here are some links to an educational/community outreach project that uses arts and culture as a way to break down some of these prejudices and affect positive social change.
There's a video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fkfRyTYFpsw.
There is also a Prezi presentation at http://prezi.com/1qwgub7qgbga/?utm_campaign=share&utm_medium=copy.
This is a little heavy on the bandwidth, but you can explore in a little more depth and at your own pace.
Even if all this has no interest or relevance, at least know there are others that still believe that this country is about everyone, despite what was said in Ohio (my home state) during the RNC. If any of this makes sense and could be of any value, let me know. And since I live in Philadelphia, if anyone would like a personal dialogue while you're in town, just let me know.
PS- Feel free to look at the rest of the site here, as well. Sasha and Malia might like the dance pictures.