Q: You received the Pulitzer Traveling Fellowship at graduation, just five days before the killing of George Floyd. What was the journey to developing this project?
Watching that video of George Floyd being murdered broke me. It was so horrific. I had never wept for a stranger before that night. It’s a shame that this is the norm: Black people, especially Black men, are disproportionately killed at the hands of police. I spent the following days talking to my family and friends. Most of those conversations were consolatory in nature: How are you feeling? What are you doing to cope? They served as a bigger discussion on who we are as Black people in this country.
I kept internalizing: Who am I right now in America? What is my experience as a Black immigrant woman? I wanted to expand that dialogue outside of my family, outside of my friends, to see what the others across the nation were feeling at this crucial time in our country’s history, especially people of color, people from marginalized backgrounds. How does it feel to be us — the collective us — right now? What are people’s racial experiences? What does 2020 mean for us? I wanted to travel to as many states as possible, talk to as many people as possible, and sort of do an anthropological study of what it was like to be the other in America.