Black Lives Matter Portrait Project

Inspiration

I’ve been brainstorming ways I can use my platform and art to be part of the positive change in the world and #amplifymelanatedvoices and I thought a good start would be sharing stories from friends and colleagues who are passionate about the Black Lives Matter movement and who are using their voice to create change. All June, I posted portraits of people that I had photographed over the years, and asked them to share their thoughts, ideas, and opinions on the state of the world right now and where we could go moving forward.

Anisa Bonitez

There is no wrong way to feel towards injustice, just make sure to take action to stop it’s perpetuation.

Grateful to see people using their unique voice, privileges and assets to support Black Lives Matter right now.

It is also important to sustain involvement; this is done through self-educating on the oppression of Black people through history into our present; staying updated and involved in the movement; voting; taking care of your wellbeing and more.

Warren Ferguson

When the protesting in St. Louis first happened, it felt very reminiscent of what is now a normal feeling for me. Black people dying being blasted on the news isn’t something I’m not familiar with. So when it happened it was hard to see that, and I do think there is change happening, but it comes with a lot of hurt that we’re still in this place. Why do we have to fight for you to recognize that this is not right? It hurts seeing somebody being lynched on the TV screen, but it does come with hope. 

I love seeing the protests because there is even more unity than with Ferguson. All 50 states have protests. And change is coming. Empathy, love and support are great, but we’re now at a place where we need action by voting people into office, not just with major positions but even municipal laws that effect us on our day to day. Whether it’s legislation around what police can and cannot do, and laws around bystanders. 

We need you to utilize your white privilege and power to help create change. When we have a country that’s been built to make sure that people of color stay at the level they’re at, it’s about recognizing that the institution is flawed. I was talking to someone that said, “Well, not all cops are bad.” And you’re right. Not all cops are bad. But it’s not about that, it’s about the institution and what’s in place with laws, what is being told from generation to generation. Be open to conversation and being wrong, and let’s help create the dialogue of change.

Mariama Camara

I am constantly trying to re-evaluate myself. I believe that every year or experience brings us more maturity and we should give ourselves room to grow; it is very important that we get to know ourselves and go beyond our obstacles and be flexible to explore, revisit our values and vision but most importantly, to believe in ourselves.

Alexa Vaughn

As I write today I am half overwhelmed and half hopeful. I sit at the intersection of black womanhood and christianity. While those are only three of my identifying factors those are the ones at the forefront. Racial Inequality and inequity are not new to me. I grew up in a multicultural neighborhood and I have generally been surrounded by people of other races who have contributed to the climate both knowingly and unknowingly. I have sat in predominately white evangelical spaces where I heard the mocking of black death and the questioning of the topics importance in a christian setting. I have felt unsafe and unheard. I have also felt supported and loved. What we’re experiencing right now is not new to any black person in this country. What we’re experiencing right now is a white, white presenting, and non black poc awakening. 

I am overwhelmed because as I get older and closer to potentially having a family of my own I get more worried about whether or not I will live to see that come to fruition. I get more worried about what will happen to my unborn children. I live and will live with this for the rest of my life. I am hopeful because I also see christians starting to rise up and tackle this reality. The ones who used to deny or ignore it. I am hopeful because Christ is coming back and there will be a time when we can exist in peace. 

What’s really hard is that we’re dealing with this awakening while also going through a pandemic. My anxiety has prohibited me from being able to fully embrace the other parts of me. The other identities. The musician, the artist, the friend, etc. It’s frustrating. I see others accomplishing things and I feel pressure to do the same. But some days I can’t get out of bed. I am praying for peace, for a cure, for the freedom and privilege to live like my white brothers and sisters can. To not have to prove why my life or any one else matters. However, I am fully aware that this period of time is only the beginning of the fight. 

Luis Savery

In times of uncertainty we can’t help but ask ourselves what will be the outcome, what’s next and if this situation will pass. The fear of the unknown can cripple us. 

To avoid this, I solely focus on what I can control. I’m also motivated to help others reach their full potential. 

Recently, empathy has inspired me to encourage others to take action into gaining financial success. I am passionate about challenging others mentally so they can expand their horizons.

Honest relationship is at the forefront of lasting and meaningful change.  That’s why it’s at the forefront of Templo’s mission. There’s a saying that goes, “people don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care”. That human connection makes all the difference and it will prove to be the game changer in teaching others. 

If we focus on what we can control during uncertain times, we can unlock the necessary tools to enrich our legacies. Financial empowerment can secure our future, our families’ future and our communities, as well. Yes, the future is in our hands, and it first starts with challenging ourselves mentally even in uncertain times. @Templo_Education 🙂

Stacy Keck

Someone who I love told me yesterday that “we can’t solve this problem for them.”

“We” = white people. “Them” = black people.

Guess what? This is PRECISELY our problem to solve, and precisely the time to do it (as fucking long overdue as it might be). We do this by first solving OURSELVES.

By examining our own personal bias and privilege. By educating ourselves. By continuing to have difficult conversations with people who look like us but think differently.

Listen and learn. And then take ACTION.

I am committed to taking action by

– amplifying the black voices around me.

– sharing resources with and hiring BIPOC photographers. – learning more about the oppressive and racist history of our country and speaking out to defund the police.

– continuing to recognize my privilege as a white, middle-class woman who has absolutely benefitted from the color of my skin to, at the very least, be able to exist in this country without constantly fearing for my life.

Yes, this time is difficult, heavy and exhausting. But it’s about time we get exhausted over this work. Our black friends have been doing it for centuries.

BLACK LIVES MATTER.

Morgan Walker

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.. Endowed by our creator with certain inalienable rights..


Among those are LIFE, LIBERTY, & THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS.’

Created equally and yet not treated equal. DO NOT turn a blind eye to the injustice around you. DO NOT squander the privilege you were BORN with- not just to create change but TO BE THAT CHANGE. It is time to listen to silenced voices, wake up to the ignored reality, and learn from personal mistakes and horrific crimes done unto those around us. It is time to be loud, to speak up and speak OUT.

Kris Brown

We are definitely going through a change in society right now and I think it’s for the better. There needs to be accountability. There needs to be change and I want to be a part of that. ‪I have sat by and passively supported the movement for too long. In the current state of this country, I could be next. I know that I am not safe. I also know that as a mixed race man, I have experienced many more privileges than many other people.

I want to use my middle platform to inform those that I can. I want to do what I can to inform my white friends and spread as much awareness as I can.

I have always been told I need to be careful when I go out… to watch myself when it comes to cops. And the reality of it is, I shouldn’t have to. That shouldn’t be reality for black people in this country.

Ingrid Silva

No matter how far we advance, our society doesn’t respect the limits of black people’s bodies. This is about the right to exist inside my own body, the organic boundary that we live in and supposedly belongs to us. We must start respecting others, especially black people who have been suffering prejudice and outrageous crimes for so long. The work we are committing to do now is not only for black people, it is for all of us.

“All lives matter” is a deceiving speech from those who are choosing to not do their part in this time in History. It is time to assure that black people have their voices, not only heard, but also occupying spaces they haven’t occupied before. Black lives matter.

Chinaza Moses

Honestly to me black lives mattering should not be headlining news, It should be a way of life, the way all lives other than black lives have mattered for centuries. Especially in a world that was created on the backs of black and brown people.

We are a talented, creative, inspiring, kindhearted and loving group of people…… Our voices being heard doesn’t just need to be a trending post it needs to be a reality.

Because in order for this world to move forward Black people need to be THE STORY and not an insert at the end.

Arthur Walwin

I’ve never let the colour of my skin hold me back from enjoying my life. I am a 29 year old black man who’s favourite bands are Mayday Parade and Pale Waves. I mostly wear pink and my wardrobe is twice the size of my girlfriend’s. I don’t fit into any box you’ll ever try and put me in and I bloody love it. 

Unfortunately the sad fact is that despite all these intricacies that I’ve been allowed myself to develop; some people will never see past the colour of my skin and force me into that box against my will. Sometimes it’s an employer; sometimes it’s a woman moving to the next tube carriage; sometimes it’s a grey face on Twitter…and sometimes it’s the police. 

If you’re reading this, you could one day be any one of those examples. Maybe you’re on Twitter and you’re being bombarded with BLM posts that you don’t understand. Or maybe you’re in your 3rd (and final) month of police training and you’re getting ready to patrol the streets. Either way, all I ask is you see me before seeing my skin. I am a human. A complicated, intricate human. I am more than my melanin. Please see that.

Samantha LaBat

Growing up in elementary and middle school, there were a lot of ignorant people. I remember I had a friend tell me when I was ten that her mom said that it’s okay that I’m black because black people are all just white people with a permanent tan. And I hadn’t complained about being black, and I had never said that I wished I was white, so I was like, “What did you say to your mom that made her say that? Why do you think it’s something that she has to tell you is okay?” But it was the kind of small stuff that I would always just tell people, “Whatever, you’re stupid.” When people were like, “You probably can’t even get a tan,” I’d say, “You’re an idiot” and walk away, but I would never sit and ask, “Who told you that? Why do you believe that?” 

For me, I feel like in the past I’ve missed the piece of educating people. I just ignored things and didn’t address them, because I knew people were ignorant and I didn’t want to make them uncomfortable by saying, “Hey that’s really offensive, that’s not a joke you can tell.” But now at work and other places, I have lots of people coming to me asking, “Can I say this? Do I say “African American or Black? When is that appropriate?” And people want me to proofread articles to make sure it’s politically correct, and I really appreciate people valuing my opinion and letting me have a voice. 

Now I have a space to actually speak up and say, “Hey, that was really inappropriate to say, please don’t do that.”

Jalia Robinson

I could take this opportunity to dive into the racism I have personally experienced. But this is bigger than me. This is about my ancestors that were stolen from their culture. This is about my brothers and sisters who have to fight that much harder because of the disadvantages placed upon them since the dawn of this country. This is the past and the present. We can do better in the future. 

Anyone who has taken the time to educate themselves on the racial divide in the world knows police brutality is only a small fraction of the deep-rooted issues that still exist to this day. In addition to this, there are inequities in the nourishment, health care, neighborhoods, prisons, and schools to name a few things. There is a reason the whole world has united in this fight. 

The history books we are given as children offer a skewed, glossed-over version of the truth. It does not mention heinous crimes of the leaders we are taught to look up to. This is an opportunity to question what you know to be true. To inform yourself about the untold side of the story. 

Let your voice be heard. We far outnumber the people who have kept up the system that has failed us. They’re scared. They’re backed into a corner and using violence and controlling the media to get their way out. Question everything. Put an end to normalized racism. We have the rapid spread of information via technology on our side. These are the moments that define a generation. What side of history do you want to be on? 

Kevin Hamilton

I am born into this world to accomplish great things and enjoy the fruits of my labor. I am uniquely designed to not fit your stereotypes. Respect me as human! Judge me by the content of my character and not because I am young, black, male, and gay.

I am your friend and not your enemy – Hate me… ok. Then understand your hateful energy will always return back to you. Stand with me… Yes! Then the doors will open for freedom, love, and acceptance. Together we are powerful.

I really believe it’s up to us to educate ourselves so that we can live in a world of equality. Listen to these words: Black. Lives. Matter. Every human being should be able to live their life without feeling like they are less than, without being discriminated against and without fear of the world around them. It’s not a political issue, it’s a human rights issue. Here are some resources to check out if you’d like to learn more.