Student Confronts Racial Discrimination with CREATE! Micro-Grant Project

Lauren Slawin, a sophomore majoring in Creative Advertising and Graphic Design, used the CREATE! Micro-Grant program to confront racial discrimination and police brutality in a video essay where she sketches the face of the late George Floyd, an African American man killed during an arrest for allegedly using a counterfeit $20 bill, with a voiceover that describes such events as “the second pandemic.”

Lauren Slawin

“Seeing videos and pictures on social media highlighting different acts of racial discrimination and police brutality and then hearing about similar acts happening to the people I know and love made me sick to my stomach,” Slawin said. “This past summer when George Floyd was killed over something as small as suspicion, I knew I had to do something more.” 

Slawin’s video essay focuses on the injustices in predominantly Black areas. Her time lapse video shows her creating a layered sketch of George Floyd’s face while using the phrases “Justice for George Floyd,” “I Can’t Breathe,” and “B.L.M.”

Slawin’s video essay “Dual Pandemic”

“Equality is super important to me 365 days a year, 24 hours a day,” Slawin said. “I believe that everyone should be treated equally no matter who they are, where they come from, race, gender or sexual orientation.”

Slawin’s project began in her Writing as Inquiry (WRA 101) course when Assistant Professor Nicole McCleese prompted her to participate in the CREATE! Micro-Grant program. This is when Slawin decided on the video essay sketch because of its ability to be “easily interpreted by an audience.”

Lauren Slawin’s sketch of George Floyd

“This was a very difficult concept to come up with at first. I wanted to be safe during quarantine while also abiding by the governor’s curfew so I decided that doing a video where I could draw something would be the best option,” Slawin said. “I really love watching time lapses of art, so I decided that I would take a time lapse video and voice over the essay I had written for the grant.”

The CREATE! Micro-Grant Program selected 12 student project proposals to each receive $500 in funding for their projects, which engaged in a variety of expressive mediums portraying messages about the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Many of the winning projects also reflected on the fight for social justice in the Black Lives Matter movement by producing art that responds to struggles brought on by the pandemic and acts of police brutality. The 12 projects that were funded can now be viewed online through the CREATE! Micro-Grant Virtual Exhibit.