PELHAM, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – The stand against racism has flooded social media streams. CBS2’s Steve Overmyer reports a Pelham woman is bringing the conversation to the art world.
“My first experience with racism in Pelham was at 5 years old. I was in kindergarten and this kid was handing out his birthday invitations. After he gave me one, his dad caused a scene and demanded my invitation be taken back,” said Sabrina Harrison. “It’s important to shine a light so we can have a conversation, so the future can be better.”READ MORE: Confused About COVID-19 Mask Guidance? Here's The Current State Of Play In New York City
Harrison shared some of her experiences on Facebook, inspiring a flood of anonymous stories that are now collected in a display called “Pelham Laundry.”
“The town’s dirty laundry that everyone needs to see. So, it almost forces you to read these stories as you walk by because it’s so out there. It draws people in,” said Harrison.
Harrison told Overmyer the stories in the collection are anonymous.
“They wanted their voices to be heard, so I felt compelled to share their stories,” she said.
Harrison said racism is not often discussed because of its delicate and sensitive nature. But, she said, art is a vehicle for expression, inviting an audience to feel empathy.
Air out the dirty laundry and, hopefully, wash it away.MTA Set To Resume 24/7 Subway Service Early Monday
“It helped me heal, It helped me move on. It helped me realize that I’m not the only one that’s experienced racism in Pelham…I feel like this was also a healing process for people because they got it out. It was no longer weighing on them,” said Harrison.
The art can be an entry point into solution-based conversations that inspire change.
On Friday, Pelham Mayor Chance Mullen said a committee will be formed to review the village’s policies, including use of force, purchasing policies and how the village handles misconduct complaints.
Mullen released a statement on the artwork that said, in part, “Thank you to our many residents who have shared their personal stories with our community over these last few weeks, at rallies and vigils, and on printed pages hanging outside the Pelham Art Center. I know that some regard these stories as attacks on the people and places we all love. But I hope we can all remember that these stories are easier to hear than they are to tell.”
“Often times, people don’t do better because they don’t know better,” said K.D. Wilson, a Pelham Art Center board member. “Until you get called out on it, until someone makes you see something you didn’t see, you might just be moving along in life on what you were told.”
“I’m not angry,” said Harrison. “I feel relieved. I feel courageous. I feel brave…I’m also forgiving, as well. I can’t hold this hate in my heart forever. This was a way for me to heal and move on.”MORE NEWS: CBS News Poll: Republicans Weigh In On Liz Cheney And Direction Of The GOP
The project transformed the artist, and perhaps this small corner of the world.