Gabrielle Ione Hickmon (b. 1994) is a Black woman from a middle place—Ypsilanti, MI. Her lab is a place where clay and words meet. She is interested in body memory, waiting rooms, layovers, circles, Black imaginaries, and ocular proof. 

Her work includes essays, ethnographic research, and coil-built ceramics. She won Bronze in the Leisure, Games, & Sport category of the 2022 Information is Beautiful Awards and First Honorable Mention in the 2022 NYU American Journalism Online Awards for her ethnographic research project, How You Play Spades is How You Play Life: Spades in the African American Community. Her writing has appeared in Condé Nast Traveler, The Baffler, The Pudding, Literary Hub, and elsewhere. She attended Cornell University and the University of Pennsylvania. She has been in residence at Pocoapoco, Mas Palou, and will soon be in residence at Dairy Hollow, Mudhouse, and Haystack.  

Gabrielle is currently at work on The Boyne City Project, a series of vessels chronicling her family history in Michigan which dates back to before the Great Migration, an essay collection, and a memoir. She works out of a studio in Ann Arbor, MI.

Episode Notes

Gabrielle | Web | Instagram | Twitter

How You Play Spades Is How You Live Life at The Pudding

Information is Beautiful Awards

Mixed-ish from Kenya Barris

Do No Harm Project from the Urban Institute


Matt Daniels at the Pudding


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PolicyViz Podcast Episode #236: Gabrielle Ione Hickmon

Welcome back to the PolicyViz podcast. I am your host, Jon Schwabish. On this week’s episode of the show, we continue a little bit of our journey talking about data and art, and I’m very fortunate to be joined by Gabrielle Ione Hickmon – Gabrielle won one of the Information is Beautiful Awards back in December of 2022 for her project on Spades that was published at the Pudding. And Gabrielle combines a very interesting background of research and writing and art, and she created this really fantastic piece with the folks over at the Pudding on Spades, and you can’t see this if you are listening to this podcast, but right now I’m holding up a copy of the card deck that was published, printed along with the digital piece at the Pudding about the history of this game, Spades. And it really reaches deep into the Black and African American culture and history, as you’ll hear in our conversation, and it’s also just an interesting story about thinking about how we can combine qualitative research, historical documentation, and our own experience into telling immersive stories. So I’m going to let Gabrielle tell you all about it in this week’s episode of the podcast. So here is my discussion with Gabrielle Ione Hickmon. 

Jon Schwabish: Hi Gabrielle. Good morning. Good morning, my time, it’s not Barcelona. 

Gabrielle Ione Hickmon: Yeah, good evening, my time. 

JS: Yeah, your time. Okay. So before we get into talking about your work, so tell me a little bit about what you’re doing in Spain.

GH: Yeah, so I’m in Barcelona right now, I just got here today. I’ll be here for a few days. And then, I’m actually heading off to a residency at Moscalu for a week [inaudible 00:03:33] working on a book project while I’m there. 

JS: Oh that’s cool. So this is just a week for you to just, like, sit in the countryside of Spain and just work – economists, we don’t get residencies, so, like, what does an artist’s residency look like, what does it feel like? 

GH: Each is different, some of them have like a lot of activities built into them to try to stimulate your craft or your practice and some of them are more like crude form for you to fill in the space. This one seems to be kind of a good mix of the two, there are some opportunities, and I’ll be there with a group of people, so there’s obviously time and space for connection, but I’m really looking forward to having time without kind of having to balance, like, all of the other things in life, like, to read with my project, and start drafting for my project. So yeah, it’s just kind of a structure of uninterrupted time for me to hopefully only do my trade practice.

JS: Yeah, that’s terrific, that’s exciting. Yeah, like I said, not a lot of residency programs for us economists. So I reached out to you – actually, we met at the Information is Beautiful Awards a few months ago here in DC, when you won for your Spades project. I’m going to hold up the cards but people on listening can’t really see this, but I have the physical card set. So I want to talk to you about this, and talk about some of your other work. But maybe we could just start with you telling folks about the project and what inspired you to do it, and then, we can talk a little bit about the nuts and bolts of it. 

GH: Yeah, so, I mean, I grew up watching people in my life, like, my aunt, uncle, my mom, my dad, my older cousins. I wasn’t allowed to play then, because I was sitting at the kids table. But I saw, and I saw how, like, at every Christmas, or every barbecue, someone was playing spades or dominoes or some type of card game. And then, when I turned 18, and I was off to college, my parents taught me how to play, and I played all through college, and now when I get together with my friends, we’re often playing spades, and I have the same spades partner in my friend group, we kind of keep a running mental tally of you’ve won how many games, it’s really actually very serious. And during the pandemic, kind of, at the height of it, because, of course, it’s not over, my mom and I were playing cards a lot in the house together, we weren’t playing spades because we are only two people in our household, and we kind of need four people to play, but we were playing Phase 10, we were playing Five Crowns, and I kept also like seeing spades pop up in popular culture. 

So there’s a mixed-ish episode that deals with spades or spades is like played in the Batman movie and TV series, and in securities a way is we are having a beach party and spades comes up. Right? And so, I just kept seeing it, and I kept thinking, like, oh – and also, spades is always being debated and discussed on Black Twitter at any given point in time. So I just kept seeing it around, I was playing cards, and I kept kind of – just a question popped into my head of like, why is this so important to us, where did this come from, why [inaudible 00:06:44] and where did this come from. And I couldn’t find any answers that were satisfactory to me online. And so, I just said, okay, well, I will figure it out, or I’ll do it myself, if that record, that data isn’t there, then I’ll be the one to create it. 

JS: Right. But what’s interesting about what you did was you combined the historical record or experience with your own survey, your own data collection.

GH: Yes. 

JS: So can you talk a little bit about – I guess, the question is, I do want to ask, like, how you did the survey, but what was your thinking there, did you want to get sort of the present and the past, like, how were you thinking about sort of doing both of those pieces? 

GH: Yeah, I mean, I think, for me, a lot of the times when I’m doing my work, in general, but especially this piece, it’s always important for me to have records for black folks, and just, in general, society to come back to, because there’s so much of human history that hasn’t been written by people who [inaudible 00:07:48] or my history has been discarded or damaged or just not given the attention that it deserves. And so, part of it was, okay, like, understanding, yeah, past, present, and maybe, future, like, where did this come from, how has it endured for so long, what does it mean in the present moment, and how might it like hold space or make room for black futures beyond kind of what we’re living through or experiencing right now. So it was both about, like, establishing a record, and then, also, I just really wanted to work with the Pudding. I had one that I had been reading their newsletter and seen work for years, and I was just like, kept telling myself, one day, you’re going to have an idea you’re going to work with them. And this just ended up being that, because it just felt, even from the very beginning when I was pitching and thinking like conceiving of the idea, it just felt like it couldn’t be your kind of stereotypical article with text and a couple of pictures, and then, like, it couldn’t, let’s say, [inaudible 00:08:55] a vibrant thing, and it just felt like that kind of more standard, but internet format wouldn’t do the game itself justice, in the telling of the story. 

JS: Yeah, so tell me a little bit about that process, working with the putting folks, I’ve had some of them on the show in the past, but what was it like, what was your – I mean, you are artist by background, so I don’t know, like, if you have a ton of HTML coding background, I certainly don’t, but what was the process of working with them and building out the story on the site itself? 

GH: Yeah, so from pitch to story on the site was eight or nine months, and from pitch to selling the first project was a full year. So we worked on the story all the way through the process for a year, which is kind of crazy, and it started out, and I just kind of pitched them, hey, I want to write something about black people in cards, and I was thinking about multiple card games like this Phase 10, Uno, Five Crown, Spades, lots of different card games. But I think there was a specific line in my pitch that kind of spoke maybe specifically to Spades, and so Matt Daniels, who was the editor that I probably worked the closest with at the Pudding responded and was like, this is really interesting, I think we should just do the stage piece of it. And so, shout out to him for kind of being able to see through what all was in my pitch to like [inaudible 00:10:27] that real nugget. And then, we had, like, I had a call with I think Matt and Jane and myself. Jane did the designs for the piece, and I know the other thing for the Pudding, which is one of their main designers. And so, we had a call, just like talk through it more, and then from there, they were like, yes, we’re interested, you do all the contract typeset. And then, it was literally just me and Matt meeting every week, every two weeks, and that first stretch of like, all right, how do we actually do this, because there isn’t any data on it that we can [inaudible 00:11:03]. Or, like, there are books about [inaudible 00:11:05] which is the parent game of Spades, but there wasn’t really anything that was directly, here’s the history of Spades, just like, some of it was a lot of like, all right, this doesn’t exist, so we have to create this data. And then also we have to find different sources and places where we can pull from to kind of fill in the gaps or speak to speculate of what kind of this history might have been based upon the records that we do have. And so, we met every week, every two weeks for that year long time period. And just kind of took the project in phases. So at first it was like, all right, we know we need to do a survey, so let’s figure out a survey question. So I drafted them, Matt would respond, and we’d meet and talk about them. And then, it’s like, okay, we need graphics to go with Pudding [inaudible 00:11:59] put the survey into type form, we need to then send it out on Twitter, and then, it’s looking at that and saying, okay, we’ve got, maybe it was like [inaudible 00:12:10] the responses, what are the demographics of that response. So from age, from gender, from regional location, things like that, to try to tell as complete a picture of Spades, and the African American community in the US. And so, it turned out that we didn’t have enough people in older demographics, we didn’t have enough [inaudible 00:12:33] representation. So then we had to go and use like Pollfish, I believe it was, and do a much more targeted kind of push to get people to fill in the data that we didn’t get just from kind of organically sharing it on Twitter and Instagram. So we got all that back, and Matt coded the data, quantitatively, and I coded it qualitatively, because I’m trying to do qualitative methods. And so, then we kind of sat with what came from both of those analyses, yes… 

JS: Yeah, those pieces, yeah, right. 

GH: Yeah, we sat with what came from those, and then, I kind of went off and did some reading and some research into, okay, well, what is our here about space that I can try to glean from. And then I had to write it. But it was – I think I maybe started drafting it in May or June. It was five or six months… 

JS: Pretty far into it. 

GH: Yeah, it was five or six months of work before I even put any words onto the page. And so, then extracting it, and then trying to figure out, okay, how do we pull in the research that we did into it, the data that we have, is this section interesting, or how do we make this engaging, just in the actual kind of narration on the page, and then, we had to go, okay, how are we visually presenting this, and what does that look like, and then, you go through the design, and then, I didn’t do any of that, the coding or the design. I like, I’d say that I created directly the process, but I don’t know how to do GitHub or – I want to learn, but I don’t have the exposure. 

JS: I hear you.

GH: So they did that, and we would review it. And then, I also pulled in friends and other sources to look at it as I was going, like, am I on track here based upon your experience with Spades and what you know about it, just to make sure that it wasn’t necessarily true just to my experience or my interpretation of the game. And then, once we kind of had the narrative and we had edits, and we had the designs, and we had the code, it’s time to publish. And at some point within that time period, we’re kind of getting burned out on it, it was a long time to work on one thing. And so, it was close to when we were going to publish and we were like, we should print this on actual cards. I think that got us really excited about the piece, because it was something that neither of us [inaudible 00:15:02] had ever done before. So that was kind of like that real push to, like, let’s get this out, because we want to then do this, like, next cool thing. 

JS: Right. So I want to ask about the card piece of it, so it sounds like you were writing – when you were in that phase of writing the text, were you thinking we’re going to lay this out on cards, like, was that like, were you going into it like that, because I would imagine that that would affect how you would write. 

GH: Yeah, so when I pitched it, what I kind of – I drew something that essentially looked like a Spades table. So the screen would have had four hands kind of at North, South, East and West, and my idea was that you would click into one of the hands, and then, kind of, read that story section, that section of the piece.

JS: Right. 

GH: So even from the pitch I was kind of thinking about this is the Pudding, like, they do this… You know what I mean?

JS: Yeah.

GH: So I knew I had to have some idea of how I wanted this visually to come together. That ended up being too complicated to code, and also just kind of didn’t – I think we ended up having more than four sections. So we have three sections, those just didn’t work. And so, Matt, Jane, we were all kind of brainstorming and came up with the idea to do it. It’s best on a mobile device, because that’s inherently vertical, but to do it on cards, because obviously [inaudible 00:16:30] so it just kind of made sense. 

JS: Yeah, it’s interesting, because the desktop version, cause I’ve tested all three of them, right? So I’ve got the physical card set, which my daughter and I were reading this weekend. I’ve played with it on the mobile phone, and I’ve played on the desktop. And the desktop, it goes horizontally, and that’s sort of interesting. I haven’t tried them on tablet, which maybe should be like, I mean, that’s just… 

GH: Tablet is vertical. 

JS: Is vertical. So for the desktop, what was the thinking about keeping – this is just kind of an aside, but I’m just kind of curious – what was the thinking of having it horizontal on the desktop, but vertical on mobile? 

GH: I honestly would say you probably have to ask him that, what that answer is, and I’m not sure that I remember. It might have been just like a limitation in terms of the coding, and the way that you had to have to code it to… 

JS: Had to code it, yeah. 

GH: To work on that for certain. 

JS: Right. The technical piece is always like… 

GH: Right. And then also, we read from left to right, and so, it’s also kind of a bit disorienting for me to be reading something that scrolls vertically on a desktop. But on your phone, that made sense. And so, I think we also kind of talked about it from that perspective as well. 

JS: Yeah, that is really interesting, right, because we read left to right, but the motion on the phone is natural to scroll up and down. 

GH: Right.

JS: Yeah, that’s really interesting. You also mentioned that in this whole process you asked friends and presumably family that just read through it, and I get the sense from you both of what I’ve read and what we’ve been talking about, this is a personal – this project has personal meaning to you clearly, like, rooted all the way back in your family not letting you sit at the adult table, which I enjoy. But like, what were the conversations like with your friends and family when you were showing them this piece, especially the early drafts? 

GH: Yeah, I mean, a lot of it was like, this is really great, when is it going to be out. And that was even just because I was kind of giving people updates on Twitter and stuff, people knew that I was working on this for that year. But then, I mean, one thing that came up, I have a friend Phil Lewis, who’s an editor at HuffPost, he’s really great. I had him read a piece and give me some editing feedback. And in an initial draft, I had just written black, and he was like, well, I think you really should hone in on Africa, we need to pick one, it’s either black or African American. Well, African Americans are black, not all black people are African American, so like, true to the specific ethnicity, given that Spades is a game that originates from folks who were enslaved in this country, and so, that’s a different black experience than someone whose ancestors were not enslaved in America, specifically, of course, now there was [inaudible 00:19:26]. But that was even a function of, okay, we need to be specific to the actual story that it is that you’re trying to tell. I had even gone and interviewed some Caribbean and African black folks, because all black people play Spades. But those interviews were coming out was like, oh I learned this from my African American friends. And so, they went with Phil’s feedback, and then Rob, who was an undergrad [inaudible 00:19:56] he was like, yeah, we can actually leave that out and just like, it’s okay for this to just be about the African American experience instead of trying to like encompass…

JS: Right, the broader. 

GH: Yeah. And then, also the history section, I’m a history nerd, I’m trained in social sciences, so I’ve always loved history was longer, and it wasn’t interesting people. So we cut a lot of that out to make it kind of flow better, more interesting. I also at one point wanted to kind of include something about my personal history with Spades. I didn’t end up making the cut either, because it just, as the piece like, took shape, it just didn’t make sense to go from this survey to history to random personal diatribe which didn’t fit the narrative, some of the things that I kind of wanted to do or we were thinking about doing that didn’t end up kind of… 

JS: Didn’t work, yeah. 

GH: Yeah.

JS: But now we’ve got it on the podcast, so now folks know a little bit about your personal Spades’ history. 

GH: Yeah.

JS: You had mentioned also earlier that out of the survey that you all ran, Matt was doing the quantitative side, and you were doing the qualitative side, and I’m curious if you could talk a little bit about your analysis of the qualitative data. I mean, I guess, were there specific methods you used, did you use tools like InVivo or something else, and then, what was the richness that you found from the qualitative piece? 

GH: Yeah, I coded it by hand. I’m a pen and paper, or paper and crayons girl. And so, I remember just kind of using different colors to represent different codes, so particularly, like, one of the things that comes to mind is that question about how to speak and to feel, thinking and seeing, okay, how often are certain responses coming up, whether it’s excited, or blank, or love, or family, or whatever else, like, coloring each of those every time that came through in the data, and then, kind of doing that same process to all of the different questions to kind of see what is the narrative story that’s emerging from the data that people are giving, which I think is really helpful to get in. And then, I also did interviews, so I’m looking at this, I’m coding it, and then, I’m saying, oh, I really liked this person’s answer to this, or this perspective is really interesting, let me reach out to XYZ to then have an interview to talk even further about their survey responses, and that’s where you get Terence’s quote and the piece or Robin’s perspective, like, that’s where that comes in. And even within that, we were trying to think about gender, age, where in the country do you live, all of that, so that even in the people who we’re quoting in the story, there was representation and diversity. 

JS: Right, that’s really interesting. The whole thing is pretty interesting, because, in some ways, even though it’s obviously on the Pudding and celebrated and won an Information is Beautiful Awards, in some ways, it’s not really kind of like data visualization project. I mean, it has data, but it’s a storytelling project. So when you pitched it, were you thinking, oh this is a data project, or, were you thinking, this is a storytelling project?

GH: I think I was thinking this is something that doesn’t exist that needs to exist. I have the ability to create it. I was really excited about using my training in the social sciences to do [inaudible 00:23:37]. I was really excited about being able to say, I’m going to create a survey, and then, I’m going to code the survey, and then, I’m going to use that to, like, it’s almost like – and I have a lot of friends and people in my network who are in academia, a lot of them are like this could have been like a dissertation project. 

JS: Yeah, I mean, absolutely. 

GH: Under the kind of way that I both went about it, and then, also kind of in how it ended up, and people have said that it’s changed the way that they think about who’s our friends or like professors in the academy, and it’s changed the way they think about sharing that information from their research. Right? Because I could have done all this and put it in a journal, and then, no one [inaudible 00:24:19]. But that’s not the point. And so, I think I was excited about being able to merge my passion and interest for writing and telling black stories with my academic training. I have a master’s in social sciences, I’ve taken all these different methods courses, and so, it’s really exciting to get to – and I bring my research, it goes into everything that I do, right, which is conservatively to get to kind of merge the two on a project. Like I said before, I knew that it needed to be visual, and I just had loved the Pudding for forever, and so, I knew I wanted to work with them, and so it was kind of all [inaudible 00:24:59]. I mean, we do have visualizations in there. We have graphs, there is that, but yeah, I do agree that in some ways it does feel, it’d be like a narrative history project, that then has… 

JS: Has data with it. 

GH: Yeah. 

JS: But it’s not like a dashboard kind of like, a lot of the things that were at the Information Awards, it’s a dashboard kind of thing. But yeah, this is more of those immersive stories. But what’s also, like, the physical cards, what’s great about the physical cards is we all know the internet just kind of like things are going to disappear from the internet, but the cards will always exist. Right? So the physical – have you played Spades with the cards? 

GH: I have not, but my family members have, so we [inaudible 00:25:43] my mom, two of my uncles and a family friends, they played [inaudible 00:25:47] with my card deck, I think [inaudible 00:25:49] Spades, and that was like a really, really cool moment for me.

JS: Yeah, that’s pretty cool. 

GH: [inaudible 00:25:52] playing with the cards. And then, we just did like another print run that sold out, so it’s exciting for me, like, the card deck is really like an everyday accessible archive, because you can sit there and read the story, but you can also play with it. And so, there’s something interesting to me in that, like, being able to kind of be so hands-on and tactile, like, engaged with this archive, with this story, with this archival object, with this art object that also has a real world purpose. And I’m also, when we did the print, when I got some decks just for myself, one for my personal archive, but I’m also endeavoring to get them into black and other cultural institutions [inaudible 00:26:36] in the States, but elsewhere around the world, so that they can also be properly preserved beyond people having them in their homes as well. 

JS: Yeah, and it’s so interesting to think about a cultural story, and then, being used in actual gameplay, and how they kind of would wear over time, and how those various things just kind of interact in the non, you know, in the analog world, in people’s actual lives, it’s just kind of interesting to think about how they’ll bend and they’ll tear and they’ll, when you, you know… 

GH: Yeah.

JS: And they won’t be as slippery and glossy after a couple plays, right, like [inaudible 00:27:14] 

GH: Yeah, I haven’t even thought about that. I mean, I know some people who have bought multiple decks so that they have one that they can play with, and then one that is preserved. I even have some friends who, when we did the – I have friends who bought decks the first time, and then, we did the reprint, they were [inaudible 00:27:32]. And I was like, yeah, well, one, you should get one preserved, they’re going to sell out, and then, two, then you have one [inaudible 00:27:37] and you have one that you can just keep. And so, I think a lot of people have thought about it that way as well, recognizing, like, oh, this is an archival art object, let me have one that I take care of, and let me have one that I touch and interact with and play with.

JS: Right. So now looking forward, do you see yourself doing other projects – I don’t want to say similar vein, but, I guess, I mean, a similar vein insofar as doing another survey and doing that sort of social science research type thing and immersive, sort of, blending it with another story? 

GH: Yeah, absolutely, I mean, I have every intention of getting a PhD. So there’s obviously a lot of research efforts that will go in that, and also I was in the words of [inaudible 00:28:28] interested in everybody black. So a lot of my work always is centering around black culture, so there definitely are some other projects that I’m thinking about, whether I’d do them in school, or I would just try to, like, the next thing that I do, one, I think, will take longer time just because of how I’m conceiving of it in my head. And two, I want to get like a big grant to do it, kind of, upfront or have it be like what I’m doing for school, which, I think is doable, we didn’t have this ones before. 

JS: Absolutely. 

GH: Etc., etc. So I definitely do have some other projects in mind. They’re kind of still rooted in my personal black experience or things that I’m kind of noticing in my life and in my worldview. But yeah, I definitely do have some other ones in mind that I’m hoping to kind of get going on in the next year or so. 

JS: I kind of already feel bad for your PhD classmates who are going to write a dissertation, and it’ll be just like 40-page essay, and you’re going to come up with some storytelling thing that’s going to blow people’s socks off, so.

GH: Hopefully, I mean, but also, hopefully, the academy doesn’t try to leave that out of me. 

JS: So in ECON, at least, like, one of the guiding principles or lights is like you do your dissertation and then you try to get the chapters published as [inaudible 00:29:50]. So, like, maybe you don’t do that in grad school, but you turn that thing into something else. I know lots of history folks, they end up publishing their dissertation as a book later once they learn how to write for the non-academics. 

GH: I’ve been writing for non-academics, so I’ve done both, so it’d be interesting to see kind of how that goes. I’m also hopeful that having this part on my CV will be interesting [inaudible 00:30:18] just like, oh yeah, we should accept her, so fingers crossed, we’ll see what happens. 

JS: I’m rooting for you. That’s awesome. Do you want to talk for a moment about the project you’re working on during your residency? 

GH: It’s not the project that [inaudible 00:30:34] 

JS: Okay. 

GH: I talked about that one probably, I’m [inaudible 00:30:37] on my website though. 

JS: Yeah, let’s talk about that one. So that also seems like a pretty personal project to you. So maybe you just talk about that. Let folks know. 

GH: Yeah, I mean, a lot of – yeah, like I said, a lot of my work is personal and rooted in my experience, or what I’m seeing and kind of parallels in my experience, a lot of black experience. But the project that I’m starting on now is mostly rooted in ceramics, so if you didn’t know, I’m a writer, a journalist, but I’m also a researcher, and I also work with clay and ceramic artists. And so, it’s called the Boyne City project. The kind of short and sweet version of it or gist of it is that my great, great, great grandparents helped found the city in Northern Michigan called Boyne City in the 1800s; a lot of kind of their history and mark on the town is still there; there’s a church that my great, great, great grandmother, like, when you go into it, there’s a photo of her in there because she’s a family member; there’s a historical marker outside of the church, there’s few things after them, there’s all kinds of stuff that so exists. And so, this project is very much still taking shape. But what’s come to me so far is specifically through clay, it’s about kind of reaching back and trying to understand and I always kind of group my practice at African tribal traditions, but also to think about I’ve forgotten a crucial piece of this, I hope this make sense. They own the brickyard and bricks are made of clay, and so, for a long time, I’ve been interested in ceramics, and felt called to ceramics, and in the last few years, I’ve stepped into that kind of calling. And so, I now work with clay and see it as a continuation of the work that my ancestors did in their brickyard and with clay. And so, it’s both about, like, the fact that I can’t trace my – I can only trace my history so far back, I can’t tell you where in Africa I’m descended from, so part of it is like looking towards those methods that I don’t – that I can, like, intuitively and bodily understand and work with and act on, but can’t necessarily directly speak to. And then also, thinking through, like, the history itself in Michigan, documenting that, and just like bringing it into a larger consciousness, right? It’s not a narrative, I feel like you hear about, like, people in the 1800s said often. And so that, for me, means that it deserves to be told. And then, thinking about the present of like, well, what does this mean not only for my family, but how does this change our understandings of the black experience, like, blackness in that time period, what does it mean that, like, this bit – and not that I aspire to being a billionaire or anything but you see people like the Rockefellers or Vanderbilt, like, who were operating in similar time periods and kind of parallel industries may have all this sustained wealth, why isn’t that really the case for my family. I’m also kind of interested in questions like what does it really mean to be from a place, because I would if anybody’s like from Michigan, I think I’m from Michigan, I can trace that back, I guess. And so, it’s just,, there’s a lot of different questions around it. Right now, it’s mostly kind of taking shape through my ceramic work, but I do think that eventually there will be some sort of written piece to it that this hasn’t kind of come to me as clearly yet. Yeah, it’s a family history project, and I’m hoping that, as I continue to do it, it will also inspire people to, again, reflect on what it means for black people in American history and black Midwestern history, specifically outside of Chicago and Detroit [inaudible 00:34:28] think of black people as being, what does it mean for them, I’ve been there before the Great Migration, which is typically when folks moved up from south to north. But also just to inspire people to look into their own family histories themselves, because I think you can’t know where you’re going if you don’t know where you’ve been and where you’ve come from. 

JS: Well, that’s a great note to end on, Gabrielle, thanks so much for coming on the show. Good luck on the residency. I’m rooting for you on the PhD program, although, get ready, because it’s, yeah. 

GH: Yes. 

JS: But the piece is fantastic, and I’ll share the links on the episode page so folks can check out both the Pudding story, and your work on your website, and I’m looking forward to the next thing that you come up with. So thanks so much for coming on the show, I appreciate it. 

GH: Thank you so much for having me. This was really fun. 

And thanks for tuning in to this week’s episode of the show. I hope you enjoyed that. I really do hope you will check out the story on the Pudding website about Spades. You should also consider just buying yourself a card deck, it’s great, like, to actually hold the project in your hands is really just fantastic. So I hope you enjoyed this week’s episode of the show. Thanks for tuning in each and every other week, and I hope you will stay tuned for more great podcasts, great episodes, and other great content on the PolicyViz website over the next few months. So until next time, this has been the PolicyViz podcast. Thanks so much for listening. 

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