Thesis Statement

February 15, 2019 Thesis

Part I: What are you investigating
I’m investigating the experiences black children and young adults have as they learn to navigate their world. Specifically dealing with the talk, police brutality, and situations dealing with authority figures.

Part II: Why? Personal Statement
In 2003, I was in Norfolk, VA for my fraternity’s national convention.  It was late, and to get some air, two of my fraternity brothers and I grabbed hoodies, and took a walk in the city.  We’d hoped to find someplace to grab a drink, or perhaps a bite to eat. Instead, we found that most of the places we’d planned to go, were closed. As we walked back to the hotel, we were trailed through the streets by a cop car.  

The police officer didn’t speed up, or turn his lights on.  He just followed us through the dark streets for a couple of blocks, before passing us, and continuing on his way.  When we realized that we were being followed, I immediately flashed back to the conversation I’d had with my parents who grew up during the civil rights era. I was scared, and didn’t know if we were going to be a statistic.  

One of the things I’ve noticed is that POC, especially Black women, are often expected to carry the burden of not only educating, but to also constantly prove their lived experiences.   It’s my hope that this thesis project not only tells the narrative on a personal level, but puts the user directly in that narrative, hopefully allowing them to gain a level of empathy.

Part III: What at this point will it be?

A VR experience that places the user in viewpoint of a child during the talk.


Part I: Major Influences

Kara Walker

Nonny de la Peña

Laurie Anderson

Derek Ham

Similar Projects

PBS’ ‘The Talk, Race in America‘ is, in their own words, a two-hour documentary about the increasingly necessary conversation taking place in homes and communities across the country between parents of color and their children, especially sons, about how to behave if they are ever stopped by the police.

Question Bridge: Black Males is a Transmedia project that facilitates a dialogue between Black men. It’s a platform to represent and redefine Black male identity in America. A documentary style video installation, it’s been expanded to include an interactive website, mobile app, and education curriculum for high school students.

I Am a Man is an interactive VR experience that lets people experience the 1968 Memphis Sanitation Workers Strike, and the events leading up to the assassination of MLK Jr.

The Wait: Inside the Lives or Asylum Seekers in Germany.  At the University of California, Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism, two students experimented with 360-degree video as way to explore the emerging medium and its potential to create empathy.

Part II: What is your research plan/approach

My research plan is to continue reading books, articles, etc.  As well as reaching out experts, artists, activists, and journalists.  I’m planning on spending some time at The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, some upcoming art exhibits, and hopefully some community events as well.

Part III: Experts you have talked to, or plan to talk to? (list)

Experts I plan to speak to:

Sarah Rothberg

Adaora Udoji

Akmyrat Tuyliyev

Ari Melenciano

Robin Reid

Part IV: Bibliography (list)

Times, The New York. “Video: Southern Slavery, Unsanitized.” The New York Times.

“3 Pillars for VR Storytelling with 360 Video.” Heather Raikes.

“How to Write a Scene: Purpose and Structure.” Now Novel (blog), July 10, 2017.

“The Talk: After Ferguson, a Shaded Conversation About Race – The New York Times.”

“The Conversation Black Parents Have With Their Kids About Cops.” ABC News.

Jubilee. Dear Child – When Black Parents Have To Give “The Talk.”  .

“Powerful Video Shows the Painful Talk Parents Have With Their Black Sons About the Police.”

Part V: Summarize your research to date

Most of my time has been spent reading, narrowing down my topic, and figuring out what technical skills I would need to master in order to complete my project. I’ve also been getting feedback from my group, friends, and others as to how I could improve my project.

Part VI: What do you still need to find out?

I need to gather stories and experiences from people, as well as figure out how to tell those stories in a respectful manner.


Part I: Relative Experience

I plan on working through tutorials, seeking out help from residents as needed, and building quick and dirty projects to quickly ramp up skills and seeing what’s possible. I have some programing experience in C#, but could definitely stand to refresh those skills.

Part II: Knowns & Unknowns: Essential problems to solve.

I feel like I’ve got a good handle on the topic, and the necessary research.  I still need to solidify the execution of my thesis, and will be reaching out experts.  

Part III: Brief overview of you plan for implementation.

Week 4 Continuing research, reaching out to people with questions, work on building tech skills

Week 5 Midterm prep, rough prototyping

Week 6 & 7 midterm review, continue prototyping & refining

Week 8 quick and dirty show, refine prototypes based on feedback

Week 9

Weeks 10 – 11 more iterating,  refinement, & user testing

Weeks 12-14 final iterations, prep for presentations, and documentation