UNSILENCE VOICES: THE SISTERHOOD amplifies the voices of The Sisterhood, a collective of Chicago mothers, all women of color, each of whom has lost a child to gun violence. Unsilence will collect their testimonies and, with photographs by artist Cecil McDonald, Unsilence will create a new digital exhibition to tell the stories of these mothers and their children. Unsilence and The Sisterhood will then bring an interactive "Storytelling Tour" to schools and communities across Chicago and beyond.
Gun violence disproportionately affects communities of color, particularly young black men. In Chicago, 2,948 people were shot in 2018 alone. One grieving mother explains: "Some people don't even see us as human." The media too often portrays their children in a negative light, their humanity is questioned, and their true stories go untold. We must humanize the individuals lost to gun violence. Their stories can bring people together and drive real dialogue to find lasting solutions.
"Each time we tell our story, we heal a little, and people care a little more." The goals of this project are (1) To unsilence the personal and collective grief, trauma, activism, and healing of mothers of color. (2) To humanize their murdered children who are so often portrayed in a negative light by the media. (3) To help communities across Chicago talk about systemic violence. (4) To connect Chicagoland communities, because we're in this crisis together and we can only solve it together.
We envision this project serving as a model for future collaborations to engage the public in addressing critical injustices in our society. These collective dialogues are essential to challenging public misconceptions and ingrained prejudices, creating empathetic solutions and dismantling the institutional, cultural, and personal silencing that perpetuate these injustices. Through community support and collaboration, we will create lasting solutions for social change and community safety.