Artist & Writer, San Francisco Bay Area

All of Who We Are

I have a big project I’ve been working on all year… I don’t know how to sum it up, and there are lots of branches of this work as I research and make things and think and make more things….

One thing I’m trying to list out for this project is this:

What are the essential historical data points for summing up the history of the United States, its laws and people?

Like… best & worst policies; inventions, innovations; big protests, rights achieved; great firsts & accomplishments; things from science, literature, music & the arts; culture; war & peace; health; education…. all of it?

Including the positive things that we like to remember….

Achievements, policies, or actions by Americans and/or the United States Gov’t that enriched the human experience; without these our lives would be less sustainable and more perilous or difficult*

And also including the really terrible things that we either like to forget or that we conveniently leave out of our victory narratives…

Dark, cruel, and terrible acts that Americans inflicted upon others, including policies, injustices, and deceptions, so we can be informed about the consequence of these actions and find a common level of respect, decency and integration despite differences*

I’m wondering how to put this information side by side, how can we look at the whole of our American experience, the US Story, and see all of it in its complexity? How can I present the information in a way that says our country is neither all good nor all bad, that we can be proud of some things while still calling out the worst that we have done and are doing? [Treating asylum seekers as criminals, taking their children, taking away rights, leaders lying, manipulating people’s fears, hard-hearted callousness towards suffering….]

M. Ruiz-Kim. Video. Us Talking #2, 60 sec, (turn on audio). Audio is from border recordings of children Texas 2018, May Day in Chicago 2006 (credit: Ignotus at Free, refugee rights protest London 2016


*the paragraphs for positive/negative are modified from what a Quora user posted here.