As the end of February approaches so does the end of Black History month. From Gordon Parks to Roy Decarava African-American photographers have played a critical role in exposing the civil rights movement and revealing racism in the United States. Not only as photographers themselves but in what they focused their lens on. Revealing a part of America un-discovered and exposed to the rest of the world. These images allow us to relate to those we feel separated from, they expose the in-humanity of violence which is now apart of our history. In the living rooms of America black and white images of segregation, lynching, and the fight for civil rights forced the country to change.
These images continue to force change. The images from New Orleans forced America again to see what was happening in its own county. Not just the impact of Katrina but the racism that still exists in the economic form of segregation of areas like the 9th ward. Diversity has become a buzz word as America reacts to these images and tries identify as a nation composed of so many different cultures and ethnicities.
diversity |diˈvərsitē; dī-|noun ( pl. -ties)the state of being diverse; variety [usu. in sing. ] a range of different things : newspapers were obliged to allow a diversity of views to be printed -Oxford American Dictionary
This week we talked about diversity in the classroom exposing what makes us different and how to capture diversity in an image. Students practiced capturing diversity in line, shape, color and light. Each than choose a theme for their next assignment. Doha, a 13-year-old girl from Khallet al Amood told me she wants to focus on girls who wear hijab and those who do not. Diversity becomes a tool of photography that is important, in the creation of the image’s composition and in its meaning.
James Mollison used diversity to do a photography project on children’s rights. “Where Children Sleep: A Diverse World of Homes” reveals children’s portraits next to an image of what they call home, where they sleep. These images have high contrast of colors and expose the beautiful diversity of our world and the hard lives that some children face.
Another example of using photography to talk about diversity is Derek Brown’s project, “Picturing the Diversity of the Muslim World.” For 18 months he photographed the diversity of the Muslim world. He traveled to 20 different countries capturing images that speak to us through the beautiful shades of Muslims in our world.
It is with these images and messages that I end the month. Let us honor our difference, it is what makes us unique and beautiful. Let each image speak to you through its reflection of humanity and learn from what separates it from you.
-Abi is the Triple Exposure Coordinator