Lucy (for Waldorf and Cynthia)

Lucy_by Aisha Cousins_Photo by Tsubasa Berg

[Above, artist Aisha Cousins performs “Lucy” at the 2013 DUMBO Arts Festival. Photo by Tsubasa Berg.]

Explore how language conveys a people’s beliefs in this project about one of our earliest ancestors.

When I was in the 5th grade, Newsweek Magazine printed a story about the oldest known human skeleton. My mother read it to me. The skeleton’s nick name was “Lucy” and it was found in Ethiopia, which means she was basically African and female. The magazine said we were all descended from Lucy. In school, I learned that we say “he” or “man” to describe people, then add things on to it. For example, I could add an “s” to “he” make “she” or add “wo” to “man” make “woman.” Later, I learned that I should say “she” or “woman “ to describe myself and my mother and then add things onto that like “black woman” or “Afro-American woman…” but I never felt like a man with extra parts or a person who had turned black. I thought being a woman was normal and being of African descent was too. One day, when I grew up, I had a co-worker named Cynthia who started calling everyone “Lucy.” She used it like a pronoun. I don’t know why she did it, but it reminded me of the skeleton. This is for her:

You will need:

  • Students
  • A lesson plan on Pronouns

Prep:
In your lesson plan replace the words on the left with the words on the right

I ->I
You -> You, Lucy
She -> That Lucy, This Lucy
He -> That Lucy, This Lucy

We -> We
You (plural) -> You Lucies
They -> Those Lucies, These Lucies

Performance:
Teach and use your Lucies like Cynthia

Black culture or history topic: Australopithecus Afarensis (or Lucy).

Art concepts: Coming soon. Suggestions welcome.

Contemporary Artists: Coming soon. Suggestions welcome.

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