A “Telling Stories Through Visuals” Project

Produced By:
Center for Folk and Community Art


“Sponsored in part by the State of Florida, Department of State, Division of
Cultural Affairs, the Florida Arts Council, and the National Endowment for the

“With the support of the Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs, the
Cultural Affairs Council, the Mayor and the Miami-Dade County Board of County
Commissioners, and in part The Children’s Trust.”

June Dressler & David Polansky
Alice & Jay Orlow
Masses-Valera, CPA

Unfair! We’ve all felt the burn of unfair treatment at one time or another,
some life changing injustices and some real or perceived favoritism. So
what did we do?
Center for Folk and Community Art (“CFCA”) artists, Dena Stewart and
Stewart Stewart, went to high schools in inner city neighborhoods and
asked teenagers to write a personal narrative about being in an unfair
situation and how they handled it. Then Dena and Stewart showed them
how to illustrate their stories.
Most of the teenagers described typical unfair situations. Some weren’t
picked for a team or club they worked hard to qualify for, but in their view
someone less talented was selected, and that was unfair. Some believed
their siblings received preferential treatment by their parents, and that was
unfair. One young lady lost her mother at a young age, and that was unfair.
Some had physical disabilities or chronic health problems that interfered
with them participating in athletic or social activities, and that was unfair.
One girl complained that when her grandmother is angry she screams at
her and once punched her in the face, but they are Haitian and culturally, a
young person doesn’t talk back to an older relative, and that was unfair.
A 15-year old boy wrote, “I get good grades in school, I am a good person.
So why are my parents so ashamed of me that they call me names and tell
me they wish I was never born? Why do they hate me for being gay? I
sometimes want to die. They should love me because I am their son, not
abuse me. The way they treat me is unfair.” (As part of our outreach, we
contacted the LGBT Center closest to his school and at our next workshop
session we gave the boy the name and phone number of a social worker
for him to call or text to set up a private meeting at a location of his choice.)
These teenagers had NO prior art education, so while they were learning to
illustrate, they experienced the creative process which provided them with
opportunities to confront and overcome frustrations. By sharing their
stories, they developed empathy, sympathy and integrity.

Rebecca, age 16
One evening,
Superman, Batman
and Hulk decided
to go to the
movies. Superman
agreed to buy
popcorn and drinks
for all three friends.
Batman wanted to
buy candy and
chocolate. Hulk
volunteered to
drive them to the
When Superman
and Batman were
ready to go, they
wondered why
they hadn’t heard
from Hulk. When
they called him,
Hulk said he wasn’t
going. Superman
and Batman were
very disappointed
because they were
excited about seeing the movie and upset with Hulk because each friend was supposed to do
his part.
Now, Superman and Batman had no ride. They felt Hulk was unfair to them for messing up their
plans. He, at the very least, could have called them in advance to let them know he wasn’t
going so they could figure out another way to get to the theater.

During this project I noticed how well I express myself in a drawing. I’ve always said I don’t
know how to draw, but with this project I proved myself wrong. I learned that drawing helps
me relax and forget about bad things. It is very entertaining and fun.

Cutie Cat, age 15
There once was a girl who had two older sisters. One day her oldest sister came home and
suggested that they watch a movie. The youngest sister agreed and went to get some popcorn.
There was only one bag, and believing they would all share it, she returned with the popcorn
and started the movie. At some point, the oldest sister took the popcorn and was eating it by
herself. When the youngest sister tried to get the popcorn back, the oldest sister refused to give it
to her. They started to yell at each other and their father came in upset and asked them what
the problem was. After being told the story, he yelled at the youngest sister, saying that she
should have let her older sister have it because she was older. The youngest sister was grounded
for a month in order to learn “respect”. I believe this was unfair because the youngest sister had
gotten the popcorn in the first place and was just trying to get her share.

At the beginning of this project I could not define fairness and I used to say that I am not an
artist. I learned that I can draw. Although at the beginning I was panicking over the fact that
I had to draw, my picture actually turned out pretty well. I also learned that when a situation
is unfair, most of the time there is nothing you can do but to get over it.

Cutie Pie, age 15

When I was in 5th grade, a Black boy was on his phone during class. When the teacher caught
him, she took the phone away. The boy was upset and asked the teacher why. The teacher
replied, “Because you had it out.” The boy complained that the teacher was being unfair
because when anyone else in the class had their cellphone out, their phone wasn’t taken away.
The teacher denied it. The teacher said that no cells phones were ever allowed to be out in
class. The boy responded back that he was always the one to be targeted and punished. He
called the teacher a racist.
To me, what the boy said was true. There were time when other kids had their phones out and
this teacher didn’t take away their phones. But this boy was the only Black student in the class.
The teacher was being unfair. I think the Principal should deal with the teachers who act racist.

I learned that I could be brave and should share my feelings. By writing and drawing a
picture of the incident that happened back in elementary school, I realized I was too nervous to
speak out. I don’t talk about my problems a lot or get involved with other people’s problems. I
was ashamed of myself for not saying anything about the teacher being a racist. While it is
too late now, I learned a lesson to speak out in the future.

Creed, age 15
One day when I was in 4th grade, we had to hand in money for the Youth Fair. When we went to
lunch, someone slipped into the classroom and into the teacher’s purse, and stole all our money
as well as the teacher’s. When we came back to class, the teacher noticed that her purse
wasn’t where she had left it. After the crime, everyone in the class was checked. Everyone said
they didn’t do it. But the fifth person checked was the one who stole the money.

The teacher didn’t believe that this person acted alone so she punished us all. We weren’t
allowed to go on the field trip, and she made us write “If I had anything to do with stealing, I
should be ashamed of myself” 100 times. I felt this was a very unfair punishment because I didn’t
have anything do with stealing.

Jennifer, age 15
Not long ago, I was part of a group doing a project in Health class. The assignment was to draw
and label the body parts of a female. There were four groups with four people in each. One
group was working on the head to the stomach. One group was doing belly button to knees,
and one group, knees to toes. My group was belly button to knees. We did our best to make our
drawing visually realistic and informative. We drew nice and clean, and colored it in fully and
vividly. We labeled everything correctly. Our drawing was amazing. We were the best. The other
groups did a good job, but their bodies looked like stick figures and weren’t very colorful.

The teacher kept telling our group that what we were doing was the best. Keep in mind that we
were competing with the other groups and this teacher was filling our minds with the thought
that ours was best and we were going to win the prize.
The day of the award ceremony everyone in my group was feeling cocky and overly excited, so
sure we would win. Then the teacher awarded the prize to another group. All of my excitement
turned to disappointment and sadness. It was unfair that we didn’t win. We did our best. Worse,
was that the teacher had given us the impression that we were the best. We couldn’t fight the
teacher’s choice, so I let it go and accepted that life isn’t always fair.

I learned that I feel very strongly about the assignment I did my best on and thought I
should have won the prize along with my group. I learned to cope with the decisions made by
others. Doing this project and learning about match or mismatch I realized that I sort of
exaggerate my feelings, wanting whatever I do to be “a match” instead of accepting they are a
mismatch and letting go of my feelings of being treated unfairly.

Kelahni, age 15

Towards the end of 6th grade, my class was going on a field trip to the Zoo. My family wasn’t very
rich, so we couldn’t pay for everything right away. The teacher holding the money for this trip
promised to save the last spot for me. Two days later, when I went to give the teacher a
payment, she told me that she gave my spot to someone else who was able to pay upfront. I
was very upset because I was the only person who didn’t go on the trip. I was very sad that day
and will never forget how I felt. For a while I couldn’t forgive that teacher. But as time
progressed, I realized that it wasn’t her fault that money matters in our society. I know in life I will
face circumstances in which I am not treated fairly and there is nothing I can do about it.

I learned that I am able to walk away from bad situations before getting too upset. I’m the
type of person that will snap about anything. I learned that everything can’t be my way so I
just have to walk away. This whole project was a great experience. I learned a lot from it.

Jacquesha, age 17
I am a twin. I was born twenty
minutes after my brother. When I
was young, I would ask my mother
to tell me things that happened
when I was a baby. She said when
I was taken out, I was purple and
almost died.
Moving on with my life, one day
my twin brother said he wished I
was never born. I wanted to cry,
but I stayed strong as always, and
held back my tears. I told myself
that he didn’t really mean it.
Recently, I found out that I wasn’t
born naturally, but the doctors had
to take me out using instruments.
Ever since I found that out, I
realized why I am hated so much
by different people. I find it really
hard to trust people now.
One day, my cousins came to my
house for lunch. While they were
eating, my mom was cleaning the
floor. My brother got up and went
to throw away the trash anyway. I
sat down in his chair and he
became irate. He said “get up”.
My cousin offered him his chair but
my brother said no. He just wanted
to make me miserable.
This was very unfair knowing that my brother knows my past and we are twins.

I learned that I don’t need to let things bother me and to just ignore them. I learned that I need
to have more confidence in myself; that I don’t have to hold a grudge against anyone and
that we all make mistakes because we are not perfect and we say things we don’t really
mean. But at the end of the day I’m me and you are you and nothing will change that.
During these sessions I learned that things are not always going to go my way and that life
is a series of matches or mismatches with a win some – lose some result. I learned that when I
lose, to just walk away and I will be fine.

Gina, age 17

On Easter day, my mother made fried fish. Although there were only four of us, she made five
pieces. I asked my mother who was going to get the fifth piece of fish and she said whoever
works hard for it. So I helped her clean the fish and prepare the seasoning. Before our meal, I set
the table for everyone. After I ate my fish, and went for seconds, I saw that the fifth piece was
gone. My brother had taken it. I was enraged because my mother allowed him to have it. I felt
that I was treated unfairly because she said that whoever worked hardest, gets it. My brother
hadn’t worked at all. At the end of the day, I let go of my anger. It was, after all, just fish!

During these sessions I learned that things are not always going to go my way and when
they don’t, instead of thinking it was a loss, to think of it as being a mismatch with a winloss ending and when it’s my loss, to just move on.

Stephanie, age 15
People in my age group normally start to think life is unfair or is out to get us. My best way of
dealing with unfairness is to just get over it. Most of my unfair moments happen at home.
It became my responsibility to babysit for my younger niece most days after school. My older
sisters assumed that I won’t be busy or that school for me isn’t as tiring as it is for them. I think this
is very unfair to me. After all, my niece isn’t my baby. I didn’t give birth to her. Lucky for me, I am
happy to have a new family member, but I’d rather keep my babysitting time to a minimum and
share the responsibility with my sisters. That would be fair.

What I learned about myself throughout these sessions is that although I may not like doing
something and think it is unfair that I have to do it, I am very good at it. My story about
having to babysit is true. When babysitting, I get bored and tired, but at the end of the day, I
know that the baby was well fed, well rested and happy. So, yes, babysitting can be
troubling, but I am very good at it.

Mango, age 14
I felt life was unfair
during the second
grading period
because after the first
grading period, I
worked very hard to
get better grades. But I
didn’t succeed. I still
got a D in one of my
classes. I was really
close to a C, but it
didn’t happen. I find
that unfair and wish
teachers could see
how hard I worked to
improve. This situation
made me feel
discouraged and
I think Teachers should
give students two
grades for each
assignment. One
should be for the work
accuracy and one for the effort put in. Then, average the two for a grade that shows
everything; that would be fair.
Hopefully I will do better next time.

What I learned about myself during this “Unfairness” project was that I changed a lot
through the process. Now I know that when I do something I should be proud of myself no
matter the outcome. It doesn’t matter if I get an F or an A – I should be proud of myself if I
know that I worked hard on what I did and gave it my best shot.

La Taysia, age 14

I was in an unfair situation when my friend and I auditioned for the dance team in 6th grade. My
friend and I perfected our routines. On the other hand, another girl trying out for the team
couldn’t get the routine at all. She didn’t execute the moves correctly. But when the results
came out as to who made the team, my friend didn’t, but the other girl did. I think that was very
unfair. My friend gave a very good performance, much better than the other girl.
As it turned out, the team didn’t work out very well. We didn’t go to many competitions and we
ended up splitting into two groups, the ones who got the routines and those who didn’t.

This project taught me how important it is to react accordingly to unfair situations. Even
though at times I disagree with a situation, there may not be anything that will change the
outcome. It’s better to just walk away from the situation. What I learned about myself is that
even though at the time I feel like the situation won’t get any better, it may. At one time the
situation was devastating, but thinking back now I realize it wasn’t even that serious.

Nica, age 15
Jane liked to dance. Jane had no rhythm, but she wanted to try out for the school’s dance
team. She had 25 days before auditions, to practice. It was hard for her because this was her first
time expressing her few dance skills.
All the girls who tried out were friends and had been dancing way before Jane started. These
girls slowly tried to exclude her. However, Jane was not going to give up on herself. She started
to get close with
one of the girls and
went to the girl’s
house to practice,
but Jane still had
no rhythm.
Audition day came
and automatically
everyone snickered
when Jane began
to dance. “She
can’t dance. Why
did she even
come,” some said.
Only five girls out of
the 26 who tried
out made the
team. Jane was
not one of them.
This was not fair
because even
before Jane
auditioned, she
was categorized as
not being good
enough to make
the list.

While drawing I realized that it was unfair for the girls to laugh at the young lady
auditioning. I noticed that we cannot control what other people do and their choices. What I
can do is simply notify the person when I think something is unfair and if nothing changes
then just brush it off and go on.

Cece, age 15
One day, I asked God why he had to take my mother from me. I know people come and go
and we all leave the earth. The people I live with treat me like their own, so I feel okay, but I
didn’t think it was fair to take away the mother I loved with all my heart when I was so young.

By doing this project I learned the difference between unfairness and fairness and not to let
anything bring me backwards. I learned how to draw. When I first started to draw I thought I
was doing it wrong, but after that I learned that it is easy to draw.

Official Joy, age 15
A day of unfairness was when I asked my mother for something I really wanted. But instead of
giving it to me, my mother gave it to my older sister. I cried and wished for death. I don’t
understand why my sister got what I wanted when she didn’t even care about it.
To make myself
feel better, and
cope with the
unfairness, I went
to the store and
bought stuff for
myself. When I
got home, my
mother asked me
why I went to the
store and when I
showed her what
I bought, she
realized why I felt
she was unfair to

By doing this project I learned how to deal with unfairness. From the beginning, I wrote a
story about unfairness, then I had to visualize the story in my head to create the picture.
Before, I did not know how to draw. Now I am able to picture the story in my head and put the
image onto paper and canvas.

Crowned Perfection, age 14

One Monday in September, my English class was given a project assignment about women’s
rights. The class was divided into five groups to make the task simpler. We had to make a poster
board in a shape that represented women’s rights. We had that week to complete this project.
In one of the groups there was a girl who was younger than the other students. The group she
was in worked extremely hard. They created a pop-out poster stating “equality for all” with the
gender signs
. In addition, they combined posters to make one half white and one half
African American females.
On Friday, the posters were presented and the teacher picked a different group because they
had glitter on their poster. This was unfair. The poster made by the group with the young girl
deserved to win. But the teacher was biased in favor of glitter.

During this project I thought about the unfair situations I’ve been in. While writing my story
and drawing it out, I learned that life is unfair and sometimes we need to just let the feeling
of unfairness go and move on. I learned the phrase, “Win some, Lose some” and now
understand the meaning of it.

Flor, age 16
There hasn’t been one day that has passed me by without me saying, “It’s not fair!” Life to me
will never be fair. For example, about a month ago I wanted to go to my boyfriend’s house to
help his family move. But my mother said “No” although I spent that whole week doing
homework, cleaning and taking care of my sister while my brother played his video games.
But I will
complain. I
love my life
although it
isn’t fair. At
least my
family and
friends will
always stick
together and
support one
makes me
feel upset
and angry,
but being fair
to others by
helping them
feel better
makes me
feel good
about myself and happy. Since my mom works long hours and very hard, I’m left to take care of
Yes, I’m stressed and sometimes I feel angry, but it’s worth it to see my mother happy when she
arrives home from work.

I learned many new things about myself throughout this project. I learned that it’s not about
whether life is fair or not. It’s about doing what is right and making others feel happy and
make them feel at home. If things or situations are unfair, I have to learn to deal with it and
take responsibilities of my actions. I also learned that no matter what happens I will try my
best to be fair to those around me. If I do something unfair, I should correct myself and be fair
or apologize. To me, fair isn’t about everybody getting the same thing … fair is about getting
what they need in order to be successful.

Silvia, age 15
One day, my sisters, mom, dad, nephew and I decided to go to the fair. The day was sunny and
hot. Since we bought our tickets online, we went straight to the rides. My nephew wanted to go
on the biggest and tallest slide. One of my sisters went on with him and while we waited for
them, my other sister and I saw a fun-looking ride that we wanted to go on, but the line for it was
very long. When the slide ride was over, my nephew got in line with us because he didn’t want
to sit with my parents. Once we got to the front of the line, we went through, but my nephew
wasn’t permitted on. The man in charge measured his height and said he wasn’t tall enough. I
looked at the chart and thought that my nephew reached the height criteria, but the man just
wanted to make my nephew feel bad. I didn’t think he was being fair and told the man off. I got
off the ride and with my nephew, went to another one.

After doing this project I learned that I care when people aren’t treated fairly. It makes me feel
as if I have the opportunity to help people and make them feel better. Everyone should feel
wanted and important. There’s no reason why anyone should be treated differently because of
the way they look, talk, or even their height. I learned that I would never agree to anyone not
giving somebody a chance.

Rixzy, age 14
Not so long ago, my
girlfriend made plans for us
to go to the movies. Either
my mom or hers usually
took us. I agreed to talk to
my mom about it, but my
mom couldn’t do it. When I
called my friend to tell her
my mother wasn’t
available, she said, “It’s
always the same excuse.
I’m tired of your lies.”
I started to cry because my
friend was holding me
responsible for my mother’s
inability to take us. My
mom and dad saw me
crying and I told them the
story. They said “that is so
unfair.” Those words meant
a lot to me. I felt angry that
my friend made me feel so
bad for something I had no
control of.

During the sessions of
this Unfairness project, I
learned many techniques
to apply to my daily life. I
learned that sometimes
things in life don’t work
out the way I planned, but I shouldn’t feel bad. I should just move on and close the door
because another door will open. Many time, when people lead me on and don’t deliver what
they said they would, I feel sad and depressed. My advice to myself now is to keep moving
forward and accept that the person leading me on just doesn’t appreciate how amazing I am.
Maybe I’m just too good for that person!

Millie, age 15
It was a hot, beautiful Saturday morning. Shortly after I woke up, my phone rang. “Hello.” It was
cousin Ania. She asked if she could come over to my house to wash her clothes. “Sure. Come
over and do your thing,” I replied. About an hour later she arrived. She did her wash and put her
clothes in the dryer. While they dried, she decided to wash her hair. When she was done blowing
it dry, she realized she didn’t bring with her the grease she puts in her hair. So she went into my
grandma’s room to use hers. Now mind you, grandma doesn’t play around with her grease
because it’s expensive. But Ania figured that if she used only a little, it wouldn’t be a big deal.
She ended up using more than she thought she would and when she was done, she didn’t
screw the top on the container. She then left for home and I had to clean up the mess my
cousin made.
My grandmother came home about twenty minutes later and went to her room. She then asked
me if I knew where her grease was. I told her what happened and she got mad, no furious, and
she punched me dead in the face. She said it was my fault that the grease was gone. That was
totally unfair!

Jaylen, age 15
In my last year of middle school, for my birthday I wanted to have my ears pierced. My older
brother has three tattoos and my older sister has a belly button piercing. I asked my dad if I
could have my ears pierced and he said he would talk to my mom about it. But my mom didn’t
say anything to me and neither did my dad. So shortly before my birthday I brought up the
subject all excited about having my ears pierced. I said I couldn’t wait to have it done.

“Who said you can have your ears pierced?” my mom responded. “Didn’t Dad talk to you
about it?” I asked. My dad looked at me and said, “Oh yeah. NO.”
I told them they were being unfair to me because they let my brother get his tattoos and my
sister her belly ring. We left it at that. I put my headphones on and looked out the window –
mad!!! I still plan to get a piercing … one day.

During this project, learned to express myself in many ways. With art, I always said I
couldn’t draw a stick figure, and certainly not real people. But I was wrong. As I was doing
this project, I began to learn how to draw. This project helped me express myself on paper and
how not be get down and not do anything. It helped me to stand up for myself.

Queen Legacy, age 14
It was a hot
summer day.
After a great
game of
Extreme Box
Ball, my five
friends and I
went to
fries, and ice
cream later,
one of my
friends and I
another ice
cream cone to
While we were
walking, we
passed a bus
stop. Sitting on
the bench waiting for a bus was a Caucasian couple. As my friends and I walked by them, I
noticed the lady clutch her purse and eye us up and down. The man gave us nasty looks.
Their reaction was unfair. We didn’t do anything to them, but they judged us because we are

I realized that I still feel angry when I think about how unfairly these strangers judged me
and that there is nothing I can do to change the way they think.

Gaensly, age 14
There was a new girl at school. She was from Haiti. She was patient, nice and kind. She was
bullied because of her size, shoes, and hair. She was very skinny and didn’t speak English. But she
was good at art. She likes to draw. She said that doing art was how she let out her emotions.
There was an art competition and she wanted to participate. She stayed on for the after-school
program and practiced drawing whenever she could. At the competition, she showed her
drawing but she didn’t win. It think that the decision wasn’t fair because her drawing was
beautiful and she worked very hard at it. Even though she didn’t win this competition, she’s the
winner for me.

From this project I learned how to deal with unfairness and fairness, both of which we face
every day. I learned that sometimes it is better to accept the unfairness and move on than to
stay with the guilt inside. This project taught me how to draw and put my words and
feelings onto paper.

Sakura, age 14
I know people judge others negatively when they express unpopular feelings about certain
subjects. As a result, people bottle up their feelings, myself included.
I’ve been taught that my feelings aren’t important, and that I exaggerate them. I believe that I
am expected to be someone I am not and because of this, I have inflicted harm on my own
body. I am insecure about my weight and my weight makes me feel more insecure. Like a
domino effect.
People say to be yourself, but how can I be myself when I am always being told that I am wrong
to feel the way I do? So, of course I act out. It’s unfair that people make me think this way. It’s
unfair that I can’t release my feelings. So, at the end of the day, I choke on the words I never
said and drown in the thoughts I never shared. It’s unfair to me.

I learned that
art doesn’t
need to be in
color. Art is
feelings, not
beauty. Art
is supposed
to make you
feel. I learned
that I truly
value that,
unlike some
people in this

Janece, age 16
Unfairness seems to be normal nowadays. It plays a big part in my life, personally, financially,
socially, and politically. I also know what it feels like to be the other person in an unfair situation.

For example, my good friend and I recently auditioned for a performance in Dance class. We
both had the same reason to audition. If we were chosen, we wouldn’t have to attend any of
our other classes. We could instead practice until we actually performed.
So my friend and I practiced very hard the night before. She helped me in the areas I had
trouble with and in return I helped her. When it was time to audition, my friend and I kept
practicing until it was our turn. We gave it our all. And we made it to the last six. We sat next to
each other whispering, “We got this. This is it. We could be in the last four to perform.” When it
was time for the instructor to choose, we were disappointed. I got in, but my friend didn’t. She
deserved the spot more than the other girls; possibly even more than me. The only reason the
other three girls were chosen was because of their reputation in class. One was a dancer in a
church, the second was in a dance team, and the third begged the instructor. It had very little
to do with their talent. Like I said, unfairness is a big part of life.

Moica, age 14
Wow, that was so unfair! Siblings! Especially brothers, so annoying. And don’t get me started on
my parents. I get “A”s and “B”s in school. My little brother gets “C”s and “D”s. Yet he is rewarded
for his poor grades and horrible class behavior.
To start with, I leave for school around 6:30 a.m. to get there by 7:20 a.m. I get good grades in all
my classes, and my report cards proves that. I am a quiet, non-disruptive student in class, but I
get rejected by my parents whenever I ask them for something I want. Not so my 11 year old
brother. He is always guaranteed to get a Yes. In what world is it fair to reward someone who
gets bad grades and is constantly having his parents called to school for having a big mouth?
To sum it up, compared to the way my parents treat my brother, I am treated unfairly.
Well, one day I overheard my brother ask my father for PS4. The fact that it just came out and is
a lot of money, made my blood boil. I waited until he left and then I went to my dad and
complained my butt off. My dad agreed. Yay! He agreed to buy breakfast for me at Burger King
every time he gives my brother five bucks. Now that’s fair.

Within this wonderful, inspiring activity I learned how much I love to draw. This experience
also showed me that I am even more forgiving when something unfair happens to me.

Haisha, age 14
I have had a lot of problems in school. In class, one of my classmates did something wrong and
everyone was punished as a result. That was unfair to all of us. Because of the stupidity of one,
we had to suffer the consequence.

At home, it is no better. I am the middle child of three. We live with our parents. My siblings and I
fight a lot, yet I’m the one who is blamed for starting the fights. I know what being treated
unfairly is about; someone gets what you wanted, but never got, or you get framed by someone
and end up in trouble even though you did nothing wrong. Life isn’t always fair!

I learned that everyone has been in situations that aren’t always fair. I am a very sensitive
person, and if something happens to me that I feel was unfair, I get very emotional. I either
break down or give that person a silent treatment. Doing this project I learned to not let unfair
things get to me and just move on.

Nayib, age 15

I went to Aventura Mall and went into a store that had amazing clothes on sale for very low
prices. I picked out the clothes I wanted to buy and waited in line to pay. It seemed like I was
waiting for over half an hour. While I was waiting I saw some friends, said hello and continued to
wait in line, minding my own business. I heard a loud boom and when I looked around I noticed
a broken manikin surrounded by my friends. The manager came over and scolded my friends
before he kicked them out of the store. The manager then came over to me and said I had to
leave the store, too. I kept telling the store manager that I wasn’t with them. He wouldn’t let me
buy the clothes, and this upset me very much. After a few weeks, I went back to the store and
bought the clothes at regular price.

While doing this project I learned that I need to be careful who I hang out with because they
can get me into trouble; and that some people do unfair things because they are trying to
protect their own jobs.

Shaesha, age 15.

One time, my mom took me and my brother to the Fair. My mom let my brother go and do
whatever he wanted, while she held my hand and wouldn’t let me go on any of the rides. When
it was time to eat lunch, she gave my brother $5 and she gave me $1. I think I was treated very
unfairly at the Fair!

During this project I learned that I am an ungrateful person. Even though my mom gave me
much less than I wanted, it was still something. Next time I will be more appreciative.

Judlyne, age 14
We went to the mall with my parents to shop for a present for my sister’s birthday. My parents
told my sister she can have anything she wanted while they told me I could only buy a couple of
things I needed. At first I just thought, yeah, that’s okay because when it’s my birthday I’ll get my
chance. Then I saw my parents give her an additional $50 to spend while I got nothing.

When I thought about it that evening, it infuriated me. She got way more things than me, which
was truly unfair. On my birthday I had to make my own cake and there was barely anyone
home to sing happy birthday to me. My sister got everything she wanted.
I tried to tell my parents that I thought I was being treated unfairly, but they said they were being
fair because my sister was older. That day was one of the worst days of my life because
everything my parents did was unfair to me and negative.

Throughout this project I learned a lot about myself. At first when this project was introduced,
I immediately started to worry because I honestly thought I would fail because I didn’t know
how to draw at all. While working on the project, I noticed that my drawing skills improved
very, very much. Although it wasn’t at a professional level, I still made it to a level where I
was proud of myself. Because of this project, one thing I learned about myself is that if I put
my mind to something, I will achieve it.

Amy, age 14
Since I’ve been in a new school, it’s been quite a struggle to keep up. Although I’m good in
math, my algebra class has stressed me out. When I’m being tested, sometimes I don’t
understand the questions. Sometimes the test results are incorrect and claim that we did not do
the equations correctly. Actually, the equations were done correctly.

It seems that these tests are set up for us to fail. The teachers teach us one thing, and the tests
ask about items that we were never taught. That is totally UNFAIR! The tests that the district sends
to us are unfair. These test have errors and as a result our grades are not based on what we
really know.
My algebra teacher knows about this problem and gives us eight extra points if we correctly
answer the questions he selected. That makes me feel a little better because I know I have a
better chance to pass the test. And that is FAIR!

I learned that by drawing I can express my way of being. I kind of knew how to draw, but
doing this project I actually improved. I learned that everyone deals with unfairness and their
situation can be worse than mine.

Anabella, age 16
School has been a breeze since day one, that is, until I entered high school. Most of my classes
are okay, but my algebra class stresses me out. I am really good in math and it bothers me. We
take the district tests. I barely understand the questions. In class, we always go through a struggle
trying to learn whatever out teacher is teaching or at least trying to teach. I sometimes get lost in
what he is teaching, but in the end, I usually get it.
What really
upsets me is
the fact that
on the test, the
questions are
different from
what we
learned, and
that throws me
off my track. I
usually end up
not doing as
well as I think I
School tests
are sometimes
UNFAIR. I don’t
think it’s the
school, I think
it’s the district
program that is
unfair. They tell the teacher to teach one thing, but then they throw a random thing at us and it
affects our grades. I’m not sure if they want to challenge us to be better or trying to make us
appear not as good. It’s just plain unfair.

What I learned from this project is that in life I won’t always get my way. Some things are a
match and some are a mismatch. It’s okay for things to be a mismatch, although I really
wanted or deserved something. If I didn’t get it, maybe it’s because something better is
waiting for me to discover. Throughout the process I learned things about myself. Personally,
I still think the situation I described in my story was unfair, but I learned that I need to move
on from situations I can’t do anything to change.

Judith, age 14
I could tell millions of stories of unfairness that have happened in my little lifetime. But I’m going
to choose just one incident that I found really unfair and should never have happened.
I am originally from Haiti. I lost my mother when I was eight years old. I know a lot of people lose
their moms right? But at that time I didn’t even know my own father. It was only me and my
mom in our house with no one else. So imagine me being eight years old, all by myself. Worst
part, she died while delivering a baby that survived. Now imagine me, eight years old, all by
myself taking care of the baby while being no more than a baby myself. I couldn’t do it and I
had to give her up for adoption, which I hated to do because she looked very much like my
mom. Looking at the baby reminded me of my mom.
I found it really unfair for her to die at that moment. Why couldn’t she wait another 20 years, at
least I know it wasn’t a choice because God controls everything. But God could have had
mercy. I guess I wasn’t that special enough at the time. I thought I wasn’t lucky. But now I realize
as I’m growing up that a reason for it may be for me to have a dream and she couldn’t be in my
life in order for me to accomplish it.
When my mom
died, I thought
life was very
unfair. But as I’m
growing up, I still
miss her and my
baby sister, but I
have to rise to
the occasion
and get on with
my new life. My
mom’s passing
and the events
that followed
were not
personal and just
part of life. I
leaned that I
was stronger
than I thought
and will make it
everything in life.

I never knew I had the ability to draw and I didn’t know that I had other ways to express
myself and nobody should say that I can’t do something.

Kyle, age 15
I am a person who wants to play college ball. I want to go as far as the NBA. I know this guy,
who is blessed with good genes. He made the basketball team although he doesn’t have any
special skills. I think that is unfair and it ticks me off. I had to put in work to become at least
decent and he just picks up a basketball and destroys any competition. Now I know that I sound
like a hater but this is not something that only happens to me. Lebron James has a decent jump
shot, but pretty much got picked for his dunks. I decided I should just keep going and work hard.

Now I think that seeing someone who was talented, but doesn’t work hard for a basketballrelated goal is bad for the team. It shows that the coach is not open to people with potential. In
the end, I made the team, but someone I know for a fact deserves that spot more than me. I
ended up being a bench player. My goal is to become a better player and make sure that
what happened to my friend doesn’t happen to me. I want to play basketball in college and
hopefully in the NBA. If that doesn’t happen, I don’t know what career I will pursue. I don’t
“know” myself well enough to say what I want. I hope I will find out in college. Nevertheless, I will
work hard and get as much advice from those who are higher than me.

Rose, age 14
At age 14, Melissa, had to learn how to grow up quickly, because her mother had left her and
her little brothers behind in a broken down apartment. After that day, Melissa never viewed the
world the same again. After a while Melissa got a job so she could support her younger siblings.
The only person she trusted and told about her situation was her co-worker Jenny.

Jenny was having financial problems and stole from the cash register. When the manager
discovered the missing cash, he blamed Melissa and she was fired because she was the
youngest and newest employee on the job. This was Melissa’s last chance to be able to feed
herself and her siblings.
She tried to show the manager that she was innocent of the theft, but he wouldn’t budge. He
thought Melissa was one of those young teenage girls who lied to get their way.
This situation is unfair because Melissa didn’t get to tell her side of the story and as a result of her
mother abandoning them Melissa has to work to feed a family and can’t trust people she
doesn’t know.

I learned that I like to write my feelings out; it helps relieve stress. I learned that I’m a better
drawer than I thought. I learned that I like writing stories about things I see going on around
the world, about problems people tell me they are going through. I also learned that a lot of the
situations that happen daily are unfair.

Achieving Greatness, age 14
I was a child model and actress. My mom brought me to auditions for a lot of commercials.
Because I was darker than the other kids, I never got chosen for the parts. I wouldn’t even be
chosen as an extra. So my mother stopped bringing me to auditions and enrolled me in an
acting program.

In the program, there were other actors and actresses my age. At Christmas time we performed
“A Christmas Carole”. I played the ghost of Christmas Past. I knew my lines perfectly and when I
finished, I got a standing ovation. But I didn’t win the “Prize”. Instead, it went to the daughter of
the Program owners, who unlike everyone else who worked hard, she texted her friends and
didn’t learn her lines until it was time to go on stage.

Victoria, age 14

I went shopping in an upscale store for my mother’s 40th birthday party. I had never been there
before and was quite surprised that the store was practically empty. There were three women
working the floor. When we walked in, no one came up to ask if we needed help. A few minutes
later a couple walked in and one of the salesladies immediately stopped what she was doing
and began to help the couple. This really confused me, but I kept quiet, hoping they’d
eventually come over to me, which they never did. I think they ignored me because I appeared
too young to be a real customer. I think this was unfair considering I wanted to buy something
and had the money to buy it. I advise others to advocate for themselves so that they receive
the service they are entitled to.

As I completed my drawing and story, I learned that I have a great amount of patience and
self-control. As I reflect on my story, I realize that I handled that situation effectively
although I was offended by the saleslady’s actions, I didn’t react irrationally. I also learned
that I actually can draw a decent looking picture. I didn’t believe I could draw this, or
anything, but my drawing ended up looking nice. It taught me to believe in myself and to
be determined.

Adriana, age 15
When I was in eighth grade, I participated in a group project with a few of my classmates. The
teacher said the project was worth five grades and the project that was most creative wins a
prize. One week into the project, we got a new member named Jane. Jane spent all her time
talking rather than doing her share of the project.
The teacher
that if anyone
in the group
wasn’t doing
their fair
share, write
their name on
a notepad
and put it on
her desk. I
wrote down
Jane’s name
and put it on
the teacher’s
I missed two
days of
school within
the threeweek window
for this
project. When
I returned to
school, I
found out my
group won
the competition, but my name was not listed for credit or the prize.
That was totally unfair and made me very angry. I tried to speak to the teacher about what
happened. She just pushed me away, and I think that was unfair. I believe no matter how little
effort I put in, I should be recognized for that.

Chanel, age 14
Fairness. . . It’s something very important. It can be linked to kindness and respect. Have you ever
felt like you have been treated unfairly? Believe me, everyone has been treated unfairly. It’s part
of life. I’ve been treated unfairly more than once.
I was having dinner with my family and while I was talking my grandmother interrupted my
conversation talking about something else. When she interrupted me, no one said anything. At
that moment I felt really bad and sad. I felt that it was not fair to ignore my conversation because
an adult had something to say. Everyone should be treated with kindness and respect. Everyone
should have an opportunity to say what they think. My grandmother interrupted me, didn’t say
she was sorry and she just kept on talking, as if I didn’t matter. If the tables were reversed and I
interrupted my grandmother while she was speaking, someone would yell at me to “shut up” or I
would be forced to apologize for interrupting her.

Everyone should treat everyone with fairness. It is very important that people have manners.

I learned that I need to let things go, sometimes for my own good. Also, that even though I’m
not an artist, I don’t have to give up. I learned that it is better to try and try, instead of
giving up.

Ella, age 14
Have you ever heard of an independent 14-year-old? Well that’s what I am. My mother, an
Argentinian immigrant came to America to improve our lifestyle. But my mother, being my mother,
surrounded herself with all Spanish-speaking people, so she never learned English.
When I started school, I had no one
to help me with my homework. My
father worked constantly, my
younger brothers were always
playing outside and my mother
couldn’t understand one word of
English. There was no one around to
support what I was taught in school.
All my life I had to find my own ways
to learn in order for me to keep up in
class. As my brothers grew older I
had the responsibility to help them
because my mother wasn’t doing
the best job she could.
My mother started treating me very
badly. She was like the evil
stepmother in a fairytale story rather
than my birth mother. Compared to
my brothers who got whatever they
wanted as soon as possible, any
time I asked her for something, she
complained. It’s completely unfair.
It’s unfair that I basically have to be
my own mother while my brothers
get everything handed to them. It’s
as if I am a pest to my own mom, but
my brothers are love. This makes me
feel alone and unwanted not only in
my own home, but by my own
family. It’s completely unfair that I am blamed for my mother’s poor decisions. It’s unfair that I am
being devastated and traumatized by my mother.

Shampoo, age 14
Fairness and unfairness are two major aspects of life. Each aspect corresponds and intertwines
with each other. Everyday people interact with each other in different ways.
When I was a little, Star Wars was my world. I would buy the collectables and toy light sabers.
One day I bought a pop up light saber. My friend had one but his could not close or pop up. He
then saw mine and asked to us it while I was playing with it. I said no, wait until I’m finished. He
got upset and put thumbs down, which meant I’m not your friend. Out of desperation, I gave it
to him. That was unfair to me. I now know how to stick up for myself and tell the difference
between real and fake friends.

On the other hand, fairness has its days too. One time I dug a canal to run a pipe through it and
was paid $40. That experience taught me that hard work does pay off fairly.

My experience with this project has been slow but surprising. As I put my piece together, little
by little, I valued and learned responsibility and most of all, to be patient. It was
extraordinary putting it together because it came out looking nice to me, and it was my first
experience drawing on canvas. I was very surprised when it became fun. Also, I learned that
everyone goes through situations that are fair and unfair. It taught me how to call someone
on “Unfairness” in a positive way to keep respect.

Dominique, age 15
I had just graduated from ASPIRA R.A.M., the worst school ever. There, I was teased and called
names. Harassed. Bullied. I was happy it was over.
But instead of making
me feel good that I
graduated, my mother
shamed me. “I’d rather
you be weird, kooky, or
awkward rather than be
Her words stung like salt
on an open wound. “It’s
an embarrassment to the
family,” she said. I was so
sad, but I would not cry. I
hated my mother for
what she said. She was
never hurtful to my older
brother. But that’s
because he isn’t a fag, I
I don’t understand why
my mother feels that way
towards me. I was the
perfect child, after all. I graduated with straight “B”s. What does being gay have to do with
anything? Worst of all, my father jumped in the epic shaming of me. I wanted to commit suicide
because of being gay-shamed since elementary school. Being shamed because of who I am is
unfair. There’s nothing I can do about who I am. I’ve had girlfriends but only for show. Honestly, I
hate the labels, Gay, Homosexual, Homo, Queen, Queer, and Faggot. I don’t judge other
people, not because of their race, skin color, heritage, but yet other people hate me because
of my sexual orientation. That is unfair. As a result of the way I’ve been treated, I’m very
guarded, very angry and don’t trust people. In the conservative world in which I live I have no
choice but to deal with it, and that is unfair.
I know I’m intelligent and when I’m driven to do something, I can accomplish it. I started to keep
a diary and record my thoughts. When I turn eighteen, I will move to San Francisco, change my
name and start a new life away from Miami. I hope to go to college, get a good job, meet
someone and start a new family. I am a person of color, a person who is gay, and someday will
build bridges to help humanity. I’m an emotional and spiritual being. I’ve felt happy, sad and
awful. But sharing my short story makes me feel enlightened. And that’s fair.

While working on this project I learned quite a bit about myself. I learned that I am a shy
and quiet person. I learned that I’m stronger than I thought I was. Matter of fact, I might
change my name and identity and move to a new city, run away from all this mess and live
a new, free life. I want to use my knowledge to make the lives of others more meaningful in
society. I’m Dominique and I’m dealing with my issues in a unique way by seeking therapy
and joining clubs where I can meet people I can relate to.

When things
work out fairly
… Thank you!
Special thanks to North Miami Senior High,
Alonzo & Tracy Mourning Senior High, and
Young Men’s Preparatory Academy for
participating in this project and for sharing their
thoughts about fairness and unfairness.