. . . he gets it.
i need s p a c e.
i need s p a c e to be human.
i need s p a c e to breathe.
i need s p a c e to fuck up.
& s p a c e to redeem.
i need s p a c e to be wrong.
i need s p a c e to be right.
& everything in between.
i need s p a c e to be free.
i need s p a c e to sleep.
if i give you s p a c e to do you.
i need s p a c e to do me.
there’s nothing like summers in north philly: fun, food & family.
unending gratitude to the families that call me their own-
for every cookout, graduation, prom, family reunion and birthday party i’m invited to.
the love is real.
til next year summer ✌
baby shower > first day home > 1st birthday
the black power advocates are disenchanted with the inconsistencies in the militaristic posture of our government. over the last decade they have seen america applauding nonviolence whenever the negroes have practiced it. they have watched it being praised in the sit-in movements of 1960, in the freedom rides of 1961, in the albany movement of 1962, in the birmingham movement of 1963 and in the selma movement of 1965. but then these same black young men and women have watched as america sends black young men to burn vietnamese with napalm, to slaughter men, women and children; and they wonder what kind of nation it is that applauds nonviolence whenever negroes face white people in the streets of the united states but then applauds violence and burning death when these same negroes are sent to the fields of vietnam.
all of this represents disappointment lifted to astronomical proportions. it is disappointment with timid white moderates who feel that they can set the timetable for the negro’s freedom. it is disappointment with a federal administration that seems to be more concerned about winning an ill-considered war in vietnam than about winning the war against poverty here at home. it is disappointment with white legislators who pass laws on behalf of negro rights that they never intend to implement. it is disappointment with the christian church that appears to be more white than christian, and with many white clergymen who prefer to remain silent behind the security of stained-glass windows. it is disappointment with some negro clergymen who are more concerned about the size of the wheel base on their automobiles than about the quality of their service to the negro community. it is with disappointment with the negro middle class that has sailed or struggled out of the muddy ponds into the relatively fresh-flowing waters of the mainstream, and in the process has forgotten the stench of the backwaters where their brothers are still drowning.
excerpt from where do we go from here: chaos or community?
martin luther king, jr.
… & still we rise
freda & i met in 2015 at a bus stop on 28th & girard.
what a blessing we’ve made it to our 4th family reunion together.
thank you, mccray family for always receiving me with open arms.
with the end of july approaching, also came the end of another year of uber street summer camp.
spearheaded by pastor taehoo lee, and running through its 11th year, the camp takes place entirely outdoors on the 2100 block of n uber street for four weeks, M-F, weather permitting.
it is certainly an immense community labor of love from neighbors, parents, and volunteers alike to really nurture and love on and just be present with the children that attend the camp. an investment and commitment of time and energy to the ones that matter most, our babies.
there is a common misconception when it comes to serving others, that it’s this one way street, that “serving” becomes this wall of separation between ‘i’ and ‘you’. when in reality what occurs is an overwhelmingly equal exchange of love. we are not only in practice of giving love, but also receiving it. and what is love but God.
heaven is not a far away place in an afterlife.
heaven is here. heaven is now.
some say the blacker the berry, the sweeter the juice
i say the darker the flesh then the deeper the roots
i give a holler to my sisters on welfare
tupac cares, if don't nobody else care
and uh, i know they like to beat ya down a lot
when you come around the block brothas clown a lot
but please don't cry, dry your eyes, never let up
forgive but don't forget, girl keep your head up
and when he tells you you ain't nothin' don't believe him
and if he can't learn to love you, you should leave him
'cause sista you don't need him
and i ain't tryin' to gas ya up, I just call 'em how I see 'em
you know it makes me unhappy (what's that)
when brothas make babies, and leave a young mother to be a pappy
and since we all came from a woman
got our name from a woman and our game from a woman
i wonder why we take from our women
why we rape our women, do we hate our women?
i think it's time to kill for our women
time to heal our women, be real to our women
and if we don't we'll have a race of babies
that will hate the ladies, that make the babies
and since a man can't make one
he has no right to tell a woman when and where to create one
so will the real men get up
i know you're fed up ladies, but keep your head up
keep ya head up, tupac shakur
as an artist, much of our credibility and value is based off the number of places our work has been exhibited, which galleries, museums, and institutions. although my sight is always set on iconic, museum worthy imagery- what i found was that there was too much of a disconnect from the work and the community in which the art was created from. not to mention from a financial standpoint, all the application fees that come with submitting work that might very well get rejected anyhow due to the subjective nature of jurors and the selection of “winning” images felt like wasted money.
it would be great to say that i could do it all. but as a mother of three and in this season of my journey, money is as sparse as time. where will my time and money be used most effectively? through life’s trials and errors, God’s grace led me to a place of many practical questions: would i rather be at an exhibit opening or be at home making dinner for my kids? do i want to pursue this relationship/endeavor or do i want to put my kids to bed? this was not a matter of parenting- but an ownership of my time and the realization of power i had over it. i think because we cannot see it with our eyes, time is something we often take too lightly. in the same respect, something as flammable as money, is upheld with far too much importance.
unlike time or money, gestures of kindness are immeasurable. it is not a cheap cliché that any act of kindness is ever too big or small. beyond that, these are the very actions that open doors for communication, compassion & healing. feelings of living within a hopeless society and a very broken world are understandable but never an excuse. our very weapons against injustice and hate is the awareness in our minds in communion with action. in and of itself kindness may look meek and gentle, but the delivery in which our kind actions be carried out must be with fervor.
one way i’ve found peace in stepping away from the gallery world in pursuit of kindness, while also fulfilling every artists’ nature to share work is to gift framed prints of my neighbors that have been photographed by me. within this exchange is fruit we bear — joy, love, understanding, hope, a restored faith.
the lie is, we are fighting a war.
the truth is, the war has already been won.
i love the month of may for prom/graduation season.
it is the pinnacle celebration of life & milestones for high school students and their parents alike.
on wednesday june 19th PHA will be having their THIRD mass auction in the past three years of 187 mostly viable homes in the north philly neighborhoods. you can view the entire list here.
125 of which are in walking distance from the new $45 million new construction PHA building located at 2013 ridge ave. formally known as section 8, the new “housing choice voucher program”, is not even open for new applicants and won’t be for another FIFTEEN years.
to the ceo mr. kelvin jeremiah & PHA:
as you may have noticed by now, there have been a small group of protestors camped outside the PHA building for 42 consecutive days now, led by jennifer, a lifelong north philly resident. their ONLY request is that they be granted an oversight committee in which the people would have some kind of voice in the future of the neighborhoods that have been their home for generations.
we see the PHA website and the very positive housing mission that you all seem to think you are delivering- what you are completely missing the mark on is the way you are doing so. what your propaganda videos and misleading words are not showing are the hundreds of people that are being swindled out of their homes for pennies on the dollar, and the unknowing tenants being evicted with no other housing options. the people are being displaced. the culture & history of a land demolished without CONSENT of anyone but your own. the tax paying residents that have managed to survive the plundering of land and homes, will now be left to pay much higher, unwanted property taxes and a complete demoralization of a culture that has made the neighborhood their own.
there is no accountability taking place because you are choosing to turn the other cheek.
i wonder if you, mr. kelvin, were being harassed and pushed out of the home you grew up in, your mother and your grandmother, if you would remain still and go along so willingly. what you are doing and how you are doing it, is in step with the colonizing forefathers of this country and the indigenous people of this land. you can run, you can hide, but nothing will protect you from the truth. may it be in this lifetime or the next.
to councilman darrell clarke: you are in the same company. when asked about the housing situation by jennifer in the PHA parking lot just the other day, you responded that you “had no idea” that any of this was going on. the people are listening. and you are lying. you are lying to the community that raised you.
to anyone that has passed the PHA building on 20th and ridge, you may have seen the group of protestors i am talking about. as i’ve mentioned before, they’ve been out there for 42 days through the rain and heat. they are always in need of food, water and ice.
decided to abandon the atrocious monstrosity that is social media. i’ve always been torn between accepting the current state of culture whilst not compromising my own beliefs and the integrity of my work. without going into the why’s and the what’s, which are endless, the bottom line is it never produced for me joy and also, luckily not a necessity for my line of work.
but alas, the longing to share remains. to share the work that i shoot, the words in my head & God’s love for us. & i don’t mean that exclusively to me. when we are sharing with one another in life, our time and resources- not over algorithm agendas but in actual real life, we are at our best.
so here i am. blogging is something i’ve always enjoyed. it was such a natural extension to journaling & diary writing ever since i could write. i hear crickets here, and i like that.
i’ve started the journey to publishing my first book: the north philly story. to anyone that has so trustingly been photographed by my camera will know this as old news. 100% of book sales/profits will go directly to fund our very much needed after school programs in north philly. this is not an act of goodwill but should be the right of way to the communities from which the art was created from.
i hope this to be a better avenue to keep a running catalog of current work, my inner monologue and the journey to a successfully published book. it is of the greatest privilege i get to photograph the family-like community that i am constantly welcomed by. in return my only hope is that their stories and images are regarded and shared in the most honest way possible.