"Letter to You," by James King, 12th Grade, New Orleans Center for Creative Arts.
NOCCA's 12th Grade Integrated Humanities class created projects focused on people's experiences with the criminal justice system. The class, taught by Byron Lilly and Dr. Spree MacDonald, partnered with NOCCA's Creative Writing Department Chair, Lara Naughton, and journalist Tom Lowenstein, of the New Orleans Journalism Project. They incorporated methods of citizen journalism, active listening and compassion-cultivation, as well as documentary playwriting.
Each of the projects were inspired by W.E.B. Du Bois' criticism of being asked, "How does it feel to be a problem?" The students have taken Du Bois' writings as the foundation for their examination of criminal justice in the United States, thus delving into how this system problematizes people, and how people narrate their own realities. As Du Bois and many other intellectuals have subsequently analyzed, criminal justice has played a central role in shaping accounts of "double-consciousness" related to gender, ethnicity, sexuality, and nationality, among others. The following projects are the culmination of this exploration.