Black Men Don't Cry
The overall message I want to convey with this body of work is that it’s fine for black men to have emotions. As a black man myself, I have suffered from depression and internal pain due to a previous relationship. Being a black man, I didn’t feel like it was acceptable for me to say how I felt because vulnerability and suffering are not emotions that society respects in black men and could be misperceived as weaknesses. The black man is strong and can take anything that comes his way. It’s time for black men to come forward and release their bottled emotions by speaking out on how they truly feel or what it is that has caused a great deal of pain in their lives. The way I see it, I want my show to break the cycle by having black men on public display being vulnerable and open with the end result of other black men finding the inspiration to come forward and express their emotional experiences as I and participants in this project have.
The black men I chose for my research were all longtime friends of mine. The majority of them have already practiced being able to speak out about their emotions and not let the stigma hold them back from doing so. They all have very close bonds to me, so speaking about what they’ve endured was very simple. However, there were difficult hurdles I had to overcome during this whole process. While working on the project, my mother was admitted into the ER and underwent a critical surgery that resulted in a life-changing scare for which neither I nor my family were ready. There were many times I wanted to give up and be by my mother’s side, but I know she wanted me to complete my work to graduate, so I stuck it out. I’ve cried many times during this process because I was conflicted with being in class knowing she’s in the hospital and knowing I can’t do anything to help her. My family has to take extra precaution to who comes to our home due to COVID-19 and my mother's immune system being weaker since her return home, which inevitably prolonged being able to meet with and photograph the project's participants. I managed to finish everything even with all of the negative circumstances against me, but I’m just glad that my mother is gradually recovering. Though I am not featured as a dedicated subject in this project, my personal real-time struggles undoubtedly influenced the images and conversations.
As an artist, I’ve always made it a point to try and hone my skills in various talents under art. I’m a Fine Arts major at Bowie State University with a concentration in photography. From the age of 5, I have memories of watching Michael Jackson inspiring me to have a strong passion for dance. Dancing later on drove me to drawing during my early high school years which lasted until my junior year in high school where I took my first photography class and I made my own pinhole camera. Intrigued in what I could potentially show with a camera through my eyes, I began my journey as an upcoming photographer upon arriving at Bowie State University.