Sunday, January 14, 2007

MLK 2007

In the process of my 13 January 2007 Saturday Photo Walk I'd happen upon a HAZMAT - Bomb Squad in Dupont Circle and since I seldom go anything without my cameras I was able to snap some photos. Which, as a black male, always arouses unnecessary and unwanted suspicion.

Even though many people, themselves, have cameras, camcorders and camera-phones and, of course, will take pictures - when they see me ... a black male ... their first and last reaction is to criminalize me. An hour or so before taken these HAZMAT/Bomb Scare - Dupont Circle photos when in the course of my ongoing Logan Circle Project that I'd snap a photo or two of a man jumping in the street he'd walk up to me and say something to the effect that 'normally, I'd prefer that people ask me if they may photograph me ...'.

I'd explan that while I understand and, normally, before taking such pictures I make sure that subjects are aware of my intent and that my style of documentary photography does not lend to me asking each and every person "... for their permission ...". What I did not say, is that, people always expact for black men to explan to them what they (the black men) are doing.

Case in point, during the course of 06 January 2007 January Thaw Satruday Photo Walk, on two different occaisons young white teens ... demanding to know why I was photographing the historic window displays at the CVS Store at 13th and Pennsylvania and the Pink Store on Connecticut Aveenue ... as if I owned them explanation.

And then, they would proceed to follow me, through the streets. And as many others -photographing me ... photographing. Policing, overseeing and watching me. The way folks do - when see black men! Watching to see where I focus my camera and run up to me, on a bicylcle, and ask about drugs. So, it is perfectly acceptable for them to photograph me, secretly, but not not for me to photograph ... the way that I do.

I wanted to explan to the white man that, as a black male, I do not enjoy such freedoms. And that as a 53 year old gay black male, who practiced integration ... in sharp contrast to my white lovers, white friends, white tricks, white acquaintances, white colleagues, white peers ... I have less freedoms now than I had in 1963 when Martin Luther King Jr. marched onto Washington DC.

In fact, I can't walk through Dupont Circle or take pictures on P Street on Saturday afternoons without some white man approaching me about drugs. In the exact way that young white kids demand to know why I photograph window displays or that some young skateboarder emailed me saying "... I have reasons to believe that you stole my mittens ...".

When thaking these HAZMAT - Bomb Squad at Dupont Circle photos I could not help but reflect on the fact that ... as a black man ... Martin Luther King's birthday does not mean to me what it means to white counter part.

When explaining in a telephone conversation the meaning behind my new year afffirmation of "Deliver Me / Progression" I'd reiterate that it has to with the fact that in order to move move forward (progress) one must know the truth of his past (deliver me) and that as a black man one of the ways that another can affect my progression is to have spent their entire lives in a relataionship with me that was based on lies and untruths. And the policing and overseeing of me. Watching my every move. And waiting for me to exhale. Or to ejaculate!

Which is precisely what people do to black males!

When taking these MLK Day 2007 photos I could not reflect on the fact that, as a black man, I'm sick and tired ... of joining hands ... !

Instead of a camera, some angry black men might would put a gun in their hands!

I'm sick and tired!

1 comment:

Wen-ho said...

hey Elvert,
i am sorry to hear the negative reactions of the people towards you. i have certainly experienced ostracism, being chinese and short and all, but i am sure it is more ingrained in people's minds to have negative feelings towards black men, as you rightly point out. can you imainge if a BROWN (towelhead as ashcroft would say) person was seen taking pictures? man, pity him/her! we are in 2007 for crying out loud! i am sure that on the eve of MLK day, your frustrations are even more amplified in disbelieve of this "great" country we live in. shesh. wen.