Visual Art by Carly Strohmaier

The Mourning the Creation of Racial Categories Project

Mourning is one of the most profound human experiences that it is possible to have… The deep capacity to weep… is one of our noblest human traits.
— Edwin Schniedman

     About: The Mourning the Creation of Racial Categories (MCRC) Project is dedicated to using the transformative powers of the arts to mourn the creation of racial categories and to help us understand and acknowledge the dynamics of separation, loss and abandonment on which categories such as Black, Native American and White were founded.  In the land, we have come to call the United States, the race concept and its categorical vision of humanity has a 400-year history that began with Jamestown. Since then everyone who lives, or has ever lived on this land has wrestled (in different ways) with that categorical vision and their place within it. Drawing on the transformative powers of the arts, the MCRC project explains how and why race and racial categories were constructed. The act of dividing people into a handful of officially recognized racial categories is not, and has never been, a matter of selecting a category from a check-box list. A study of this history tells us that dividing peoples into racial categories has required family, ancestral, romantic, and other ties be severed. The MCRC Project tells this history in a 4-part documentary series.

     Mission: The MCRC Project supports collaborations between creative and performing artists of different racial classifications who join talents with the goal of changing the national narrative about race. They do this by telling a neglected and unacknowledged story of how racial categories were formed.

That neglected story is that  race — the racial categories — we so routinely check were created and institutionalized without regard for biological, family, ancestral, romantic, and other ties. In other words, dividing people into racial categories required the most intimate of bonds be severed. MCRC artists explore the range of emotions by which racial categories were forged – from the most heart-wrenching to the most callus and every emotion in between. The ultimate goal is transform the nation’s understanding of who we are, and in the process mourn the creation of racial categories.

Deposits of unfinished grief reside in more American hearts than I ever imagined. Until these pockets are opened and their contents aired openly, they block unimagined amounts of human growth and potential. 
— Robert Kavanaugh