As recognized in Argentina’s National Commission on the Disappearance of Persons in 1983, South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 1996, and others that have followed, we must acknowledge and witness the impacts of our history before we can move forward and ensure the same injustices are not repeated. Storytelling is a powerful tool to help provide deep witness, compassion, and inspiration to manifest differently.
Writing about the ongoing dispute with Britain over boundaries and the right of the United States to claim Oregon, journalist John L. O’Sullivan coined the phrase “Manifest Destiny” in 1845, but his words had much deeper implications and assumptions about the morality, divinity, freedom, and presumed superiority of a white America. Through the lens of Manifest Destiny, western expansion was viewed not only as a triumph for the spread of liberty, but it was also seen as foreordained and inevitable. This litany of legislation and the trauma it inflicted starts to flip the script, to shift the focus to the people who were the subjects of these laws that codified the removal, enslavement, displacement, and disenfranchisement that Manifest Destiny’s vision of progress through landed empire necessitated.Manifest Destiny left Indigenous people, People of Color, and many wage workers outside of the body politic, without rights or rights that needed to be respected.
It is from this position, of recognizing the histories and experiences of those who have not benefited from the legacy of Manifest Destiny, that Manifest Differently begins; to see a world that manifests differently.
The project was co-conceived by poet/artist Kim Shuck and artist/writer Megan Wilson. Each has a layered family history of Euro-American and Indigenous ancestry, deeply impacted by the stains, scars, and strength that remain.
They are joined by Trisha Lagaso Goldberg in curating eight months of original programming and art activations across San Francsico.
Manifest Differently uses a humanities framework of sociology, storytelling, visual, literary, and media arts. We are grateful for the support provided through the experience and scholarship of our advisors.