I am thankful for…
My mom, dad, and sister. We have spent so many long nights talking and learning from each other. We believe in speaking out when we feel betrayed, and we won’t take another person’s crap. My family members are not afraid to voice their opinions. They are intelligent beyond belief. They awe me with their strength. They are each leaders in their own way. They teach me thoughtfulness, and respect.
My boyfriend. He has such an open mind. He teaches me patience.
My friends. People I’ve grown with. We are so incredibly close.
The other students who stood up for themselves and reported their cases against Paul. Alone, we were scared and mute. Together, we supported each other and braved the process. Without them, I would have never reported my case. They taught me to see beyond the pain Paul caused me, and realize that inaction would cause harm to others. They taught me responsibility.
My mentors and teachers who give me feedback when I am most vulnerable. Thank you to those who have helped me with my current and upcoming work.
The awe-inspiring artists who have reached out and supported me since my piece began.
My past professors who still support me today.
The Shepards, who are like family.
Dawn, who helped raise me.
My dogs, Tybalt and Ophelia.
Being born and raised in the fastest city on earth. There is no place like New York.
Being a woman, which I am proud of.
My education. I learned about performance art in high school, whereas so many people will never know what it is. And, although Columbia betrayed me, I am thankful for how I’ve learned to think clearly and critically about my situation, and for the opportunity to collaborate with inspiring student activists and a wonderful art faculty and community there.
Everyone who has believed in me. Everyone who has helped carry the mattress. Everyone who has carried mattresses in support around the world. Everyone who has stood up for themselves and spoken out. Everyone who has worked to end the silence. These are the people who make real change.
Emma Sulkowicz is a student at Columbia University. A visual arts major, she is carrying her mattress around campus until her accused rapist is expelled.