I understand that I will never understand. However, I stand.

 Martin Luther King JR., the march on Washington, 1963

August 2, 2020

Following the horrendous murdering of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer and the worldwide circulation of videos and images on social media showing how he died under the knee of that police officer and the social unrest and violence that erupted in cities of the United States, white people have somehow woken up to the injustice that black people go through on a daily basis, hours per day, days per year, years and decades since the proclamation of emancipation by president Abraham Lincoln January 1st 1863. Masses of white people are finally showing interest and appreciation. They finally realize that every black person deserves to be treated with respect, decency and compassion and that these are not privileges. The deeply-rooted racism will not change until white people understand what white privileges are, how they benefit from it and what they can do to eradicate it. Racism is structural. It runs through the core of white people’s mentality and functioning. Until white people do something about it, racism will never end. 

When white people post a solid black image on their social media page, it shows a want to change and a want to trigger a change in others like them. At the same time, they hesitate to be vocal about it, worrying they might miscommunicate, for fear of not knowing what they can do. They may have good intention but at the same time not knowing what to say or do, does not help bring change. The real change begins at home. White people should not think of themselves as an ally of black people, because an ally is only a partner for a defined period of time. They should instead think of themselves as comrades and that we are all in this together for as long as we do not become one. 

There is always a price to pay for truth-telling. Martin Luther King JR. was willing to sacrifice himself for the rest of the black community and that’s a  deep radical empathy. That’s a deep rich kind of love and such love is not born overnight. It’s a feeling that has been brewing for decades of hearing testimonials, of seeing injustices, of being segregated and the frustration of not having a voice to make it right. When black people were growing up in the 40’s, 50’s, 60’s, 70’s and up to now and their parents were telling them that they should never feel that they were less than anybody else, that they were somebody and as good as anybody else. Maybe white people tell their kids the same exact words, but the purport behind those words are hugely contrasted. Black and white people say the same thing but with different meaning. For the black people, those words carry a different weight, loaded with experience of discrimination, racism, inequality, harassment, injustice, unjustified imprisonment, lost of lives, extreme poverty and the horrible list goes on and on and on. 

1955, the Montgomery bus boycott in Alabama; Black people standing-up crowded at the back while the front half of the bus is almost empty, except for a few white people each occupying a double-seat. Black people would get on the bus at the front, put their coins in the container, get off the bus and go around to the back to get on the bus again. The front of the bus was reserved for white people and black people were not allowed to walk through. It was a very demeaning experience to ride on the bus.   

Segregation was everywhere; even the water fountain was divided. There were water taps for white people and water taps for black people.  

May 1961, the Freedom Rides – The purpose was to desegregate interstate travel. The United States Supreme Court had ruled that segregated public buses were unconstitutional. However the Southern States ignored the rulings and the federal government turned a blind eye on it. The Freedom Rides were supposed to be between Washington and New Orleans. When the buses got to Birmingham, white mobs attacked them. In Montgomery, buses were bombed and freedom riders were beaten violently.  These are the kind of events that white people have to research and discuss in order to understand some of the awful miseries black people went through. When Dr. King was arrested and put in jail in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1963, he wrote a letter responding to an article in the local newspaper. That letter became known as The Letter from the Birmingham Jail, dated June 12th 1963. Some civil rights activists refer to this letter as the twentieth century most important social justice manifesto.  That letter however did not have immediate impact but when Dr. King came out of jail, it was a great learning experience for him that would shape the future of the civil rights movement. 

He came up with the smart strategy of working with people who have been working with young adults in high school. Not long after, a river of young people arrived at 16th Street Baptist church. They were marching peacefully while white policemen wearing guns and sticks were observing them. Someone in the crowd started singing “We are not afraid” and they all started dancing with big smiles on their faces.  

They got arrested. The jails were filled and the city was frustrated. The sheriff realized that he could not put them in jail anymore and had to come up with something to deter  them. They arrived with police dogs and fire hoses. The force of the water was strong enough to knock the barks off the trees and sent children flying meters away. Blouses were torn, skins were broken. “Spray them niggas so they won’t have to take a bath”, they shouted.

If the water hoses were not enough to disperse the crowd, the police would unleash the dogs, “Get them niggas, get them niggas.” 

Without Birmingham, there would be no march on Washington, there would be no Civil Rights Act, there would be no Voting Rights Act, there would be no Barack Obama and there would be no “I have a dream” speech. Dr King would not be on the cover of Time Magazine as the “Man of the year”. He would not have won the Nobel peace prize. The Birmingham campaign stimulated protests, mass rallies, hundred thousand people in Detroit, demonstrations in Chicago. At that point, people from the Justice department get on the phone and say president Kennedy wants to introduce civil rights legislation.  Without Birmingham, history reads very differently. The march on Washington, on August 28th 1963, was a bi-racial movement and Dr. King that day predicted that this march would go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of The United States. And it did, as it paved the way for future bi-racial demonstrations. On that day when Dr. King gave the “I have a dream” speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, he did not speak a single word about voting rights. His vision was way bigger than black people getting the right to vote. Racism and injustice run deeper than just the right to vote. Few months after that speech, on November 22nd 1963, president Kennedy was assassinated. Two years later on August 6th 1965, president Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act into law. President Lincoln proclaimed slaves free on June 19th 1865 and it took 100 years for black people to get a taste of democracy with the Voting Rights law in 1965. ONE HUNDRED YEARS. Birmingham, Montgomery, Selma, Washington, that’s the process of change from 1865 to 1965. People love the idea of change more than they love the process of change. Now when white people say “However, I stand”, I wonder what the word “stand” mean for them? Do they stand for the process of change, or do they stand for the idea of change? 

“I have a dream…” Dr. King at the march on Washington, August 28th 1963

 Sources: Internet, Documentaries

Fall Season in Canada

Lac des Battures on Nuns’ Island

Canada is so nature-rich with all the forests and wildlife. The image above is actually a bird sanctuary. One can hear them sing almost all the time. Water, trees and plants are the basics of existence for wildlife and humans. In this day and age, we are hanging on to a hope that planet earth is not going to be like Mars in some million years. Let us each and everyone do our bit to make sure our generations to come will have a comfortable future here on earth.

The story behind the tattoo

I met Grace and I noticed her love for bring in front if the lens. We decided to do a photo session. I always start with portrait on my balcony. It’s the beginning of fall season and I hand a dark background on one end of the balcony and that become the studio, with only the bright daylight as my light source. Last Saturday it was raining and we decided to do some boudoir instead. I quickly noticed the tattoos on her body. We sat down on the bed and were having a chat about them tattoos. They all have deep meaning to Grace. The one above, her grandma had a prayer beads and in memory of grandma, her mama had the prayer beads tattooed on her ankle. Grace has the same tattooed on her left arm, as it’s closer to her heart. The prayer beads represents the link between the three beautiful women. Life is about connection with beings. That’s what seems to fulfill many people.

Meet Ashley, my muse this weekend

Ashley is a fitness instructor and trainer in a gym. Her life revolves quite much around health, fitness and diet. She inspires me since I only do jogging 2-3 times a week but I do try to keep a healthy diet though. It was my first time working with this gorgeous model. I set up a background on my balcony, put a couple of wheels and a wooden chair to create a raw and neglected setting.

I am not a big fan of the perfect and high quality studio and I hate make-up. When Ashley turned up, I explained the scenario to her and it did not take her long to immerse herself in the mood. I love it. What helps a lot is when a model has a genuine character and feelings. The session went very well and some great images came out of it, as you can see in the portrait section of my website.

Stella McCartney Agents of Change: The Winter ’19 Campaign

An image from the above campaign

It is important that big fashion houses take a stand on important issues that affects the world. In the past many years they’ve taken a strong stand on LGBTQ, Immigration and Human Rights. Now with leaders like Stella McCartney, we see that the fashion industry do have a guilty conscience about the damage it causes to the environment and we also see they are actively finding solutions. The New York Fashion Week ends today and Stella McCartney has used the visibility of the show to raise the awareness in the image and video above. If you care for the environment, give me a call and I’ll be more than happy to offer you 20% off your next photo session. Call on (514) 804-5720