The Lemonade Project, “The Right to Feel”

My daily inner monologue often starts with questions. 

What should I wear to work? Did I remember to lock the front door? Where are my notes? What’s for dinner? 

These questions are familiar. We ask them, and will continue to ask them throughout our lifetime as a natural part of our human experience. Yet, in their comfort lie deeper and more philosophical questions – the hidden gems that appear in brief glimpses of genius. I happened upon one this weekend, as I reflected upon the latest session of The Lemonade Project.

‘Can we use design to simplify or break down the complex emotions we as humans feel?’

On the surface, the act of feeling should be easy. It’s a pretty straightforward process – you feel, and then react accordingly. Yet, the act of feeling, and the outward expression of how you feel can be a strenuous task. For women, and especially women of color, emoting is subject to being policed. Have an opinion about a social matter? Well, you’re just “angry” or “sensitive” about the topic on hand. Have to make an important decision? Well, your skills may be questioned due your “irrationality” as a woman. Instances like these taint the beauty of expression, and complicate the simplicity of feeling.

In naming the third session of The Lemonade Project “You Got A Right to Be Mad” we put our own personal stake on the ‘emotional battleground’. Rather than disassociate from our emotions, we broke them down. As a community, we put into words what made us angry and placed them on the wall in an array of blue, purple, pink, orange, and yellow sticky notes. Rapidly firing off our thoughts, a variety of concerns materialized on the wall opposite the MODA logo in the lobby of the museum. We made connections between various phobias, systemic inequalities, and personal traumas, offering up personal experiences to complement the scripted concerns.

As we encompassed that moment, we exercised an unalienable right. Harkening back to 18th century US History, the first amendment of the United States Constitution grants freedom of speech and expression. As human beings, we have an innate right to experience the totality of our emotions without the policing of others. What would occur if we did? Would the reward of doing so outweigh the risk?

‘Can we use design to simplify or break down the complex emotions we as humans feel?’

It can certainly create a space to start the process, and offer up new solutions.

-Blair Banks, MODA Education Coordinator & Design Club Manager

Museum of Design Atlanta