I remember on 9/11 I had a job photographing corporate headshots for a construction company. It was a full schedule, and the most surreal day I can recall as little snippets of the news filtered in. There was a weight in the air at the loss of life, yet they wanted to continue with the project, so I spent my day asking people to smile, when all I wanted to do was cry.
Yesterday I had a deadline project that brought me within a mile of where Philando Castile was shot, but there was no time to even go to the site. I had spotty cell coverage and just read the news in bits and pieces from my social media stream. I had the sense that I should be somewhere else, doing something else.
When I got home, I wrote this piece, and as I often do, set it aside to sleep on it and post the morning…and this morning I woke up to news that the world had shifted again…but the question remains the same. What sort of world do we hope to leave for our kids?
White people get nervous when they see a black man run.”
This is a story I heard recently. Advice from a black mother to her young son.
Two weeks ago I was at the Sojourners Summit for Change in Washington, DC. The focus of the conference was race and we set up a studio to photograph attendees. We asked them when they first saw issues of race manifested in their own lives. And we listened.
We just listened.
Some of the stories were from 50 years ago. And some of them were painfully recent. Bryan Stevenson from the Equal Justice Initiative spoke of the presumption of dangerousness and guilt that exists for African American males in particular. He spoke of how much time he has spent in his life trying to make white people feel comfortable around him.
We listened to story after story of people being told they were not good enough because of the color of their skin, and at the end of the conference, as I drove through the city and saw African American parents walking with their children, I wondered, “When will these children first be told that they are not good enough…that they are not worthy?”
This morning I woke up to the news from Minnesota. The story that Philando Castile had been shot and killed. I watched the video filmed by Diamond Reynolds as she sat in the seat next to him…and later as she was in the back of the police car…and while she struggled to come to terms with what was going on, I heard her 4-year-old daughter say, “It’s OK, Mommy. It’s OK. I’m right here with you.”
And I realized…this might be her moment.