Updated: Jun 20
Jenn, Gerald, and their family.
“I am a young mom, and my kids are first in my heart. I want them to be accepted for who they are, not what they are. I know their heart. They should be judged by their hearts, not the color of their skin. I want to create a better and brighter future for my kids. But I also worry about what happens when they go to school. What are my kids going to have to deal with? That’s what scares me.”
“I’ve grown up in privilege. But I was born to teenage parents and was raised by my grandma. I worked hard to be an athlete and earn my way to a great private school. And then I would go around my white peers’ neighborhoods and think, ‘All this is average for y’all. Where I come from, average isn’t living well.’ Roads, food, schools, the average for a white community looks much different, much better, than the average black community.”
“It’s all about education and stories. I may be an athlete, but I am also a business owner. She’s a broadcast journalist. Black kids need to see that there are more versions of black success than music and sports. They need to know that being a rapper or an athlete isn’t the only black story of success.”
“People need to know that it's not a competition. Black people are not trying to take over or anything. We want the same privilege that white communities and white businesses have enjoyed for generations. Too much of the world is seen as a competition for resources and success. We just want to level the playing field by bringing everyone up, not by bringing anyone down.”
“I am disappointed it took the world witnessing George Floyd having his neck kneeled on for 8 minutes and 46 seconds to fully see the racial injustices placed on black lives for over 400 years now, but I am happy to see Black Lives Matter marches and protests happening globally. I am also glad to see white suburban communities educating, listening and using their privilege to help move the needle.”
“Ultimately we are encouraged that more people are listening to and validating the black experience in America. More and more we need sympathy for each other. I think we are starting to see that.”
The portraits of Gerald, Jennifer, and their family and their words are part of my project to show how Columbus is responding to and working through the current national protests in support of Black Lives Matter.
In addition to creating the portraits for the project, I have asked participants to “donate what you can” for each portrait sitting. Donations will benefit the Equal Justice Initiative, a national organization directed by Bryan Stevenson, author of Just Mercy.
(If you’re interested in donating directly to the organization, you can donate here.)
Thank you, Gerald, Jennifer, and everyone who has joined the project. To join my project, please send me a private message or email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I want to tell your story next.
To read more about the project and to see a list of all the sessions, please click this link.