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Response: Doreen Garner Sculpts Our Trauma

By: April Lacey

While watching the video on Doreen Garner, I felt a number of emotions. One being excitement, prior to clicking on the link for the video - I had no idea I’d be watching a video of a black woman. Neither did I know she’d be the creator of something so beautiful. The second emotion that I felt completely after the excitement was anger. I’d learned of someone new from history. Someone who is seen as a heroic figure but is really a villain - much like a lot of people in American history that they expect us (as citizens) to glorify. This person was J. Marion Sims, a white man known for being the “father” of gynecology. You’d think his title was amazing, right? Such a big outbreak in history? But no, most of his studies were studies made fallible through the torture of black women. He’d refused to give these women, specifically black women, anesthesia because he felt like black people could tolerate pain more than others because they simply could feel it “less”. Garner, does the honors of demonstrating such a gruesome task onto J. Marion Sims’ body himself (of course the fake model). This is something that I greatly appreciated watching, I felt proud and anxious at the same time. Proud because this talented black woman was making it her duty to educate those around her who 1. Do not know of this event in history or 2. Intentionally celebrated a horrible man and this same act that he committed onto us, she was doing to him. The back of my head just kept saying “You go girl!” because to sculpt something so perfect and demonstrative, it takes talent, it takes courage, it takes intellect and as shown in the video, it sometimes takes a team - which she was not afraid of showing. Throughout the video, she was addressing many different communities, some of which could relate to each other. She was addressing the medical community, the black community, the art community, the women’s community, the community of people who like to sweep this event under the rug - so many communities of which took nothing but bravery to address. I liked how she used women and diversity throughout her video. While demonstrating the surgery onto the sculpture/model of Sims, all of the doctors performing the surgery, including her, were women. Specifically black women who all looked different. Each nurse/doctor from the demonstration was different in their own way. Each woman was a different skin tone, a different weight, had a different style, different hair texture, different hair style etc. While watching this last part of the video, my mind kept singing “I’m every woman” by Whitney Houston, on repeat. She was using her art and her voice to address something that means/meant a lot to her.

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