My Breaking Up photo series is a lookbook to my biography By Your Side: That Time I Broke Up With God. This project represents freeing myself from the stigmatisation of dark skin, religion, mental health, and culturalism that have historically oppressed people of color.
Culturalism is an idea that I am locked into whatever perception society has of my culture. We’re all one organic whole. I find this to be problematic since society has not broadened its perspective about Black people but continues to embrace the culture. Not to mention, refusing to let go of its ideologies we are all violent, uneducated, and lazy.
We are forever a trending topic. Whether it’s within the framework of our own community, media, or globally. Black American culture is the most appropriated, reproduced, and marketed culture on earth. So much that, it’s obscuring our true African heritage—traditions once centered around spirituality not materialism.
Years ago, after a lifetime of self-loathing, I began to embrace my natural self. However, it was like awaking to a nightmare. I didn’t realize the caveats mainstream society placed on Black culture.
You can create it, but you don’t own it. Your bodies, intellectual property, and choices are for the rights, uses, privileges, and purposes of the mainstream, which is systematically constructed for me to neither integrate or succeed in. In order to assimilate, one must be willing to disfigure themselves—mind, body and soul.
Caught in the crossfire…literally. If I embrace myself and heritage I’m a threat, unpatriotic, or a terrorist. When I try to exercise my inalienable rights, as an “American” like walking, driving, speaking, and sharing, I’m constantly reminded that I’m not.
The truth is, as a Black or African-American, there will always be a hyphen standing in the way of my constitutional rights.
Black Americans are forced as youths to confront mature issues well before we have been psychologically equipped to handle them. Generational poverty, under-education, abuse, brutality, racism, fear, and broken families, coerces us to endorse social-cultural values as a means of survival to combat these issues.
Blinded by centuries of struggling—the pursuit of money, houses, cars, fashion, and fame leave us morally and emotionally malnourished. It doesn’t help that mass media purports messages and images directed at people of color that assigns our identity to either depravity or entertainment. Same prison, different cell. Therefore, our aspirations lay in obtaining material possessions, even murdering one another for gain.
Advertisers and marketers make billions off our thirst to integrate into the fabric of the “American” dream. We’ve lost sight of obtaining things with substantial value like family, dignity, spirituality, and healthy communication. Building a legacy means investing in things that outlive you like experiences, heritage, family, land, charitable contributions, and businesses. The only things thriving in Black American culture are self-hatred, historical lies and generational debt.
I feel, America is not working for us, because we aren’t indigenous to this land. The food isn’t working. African-Americans lead the way in nearly every chronic disease. The laws aren’t working. African-Americans are the highest incarcerated population. The economic system isn’t working. African-Americans are the most under-employed, underpaid group in America. We are the most turned away for business loans and greatest victims of predatory lending. The educational system isn’t working. Schools in urban areas and communities of color or poorly funded causing us to fall behind in every academic area. Textbook history has distorted our heritage to make us look uneducated, disenfranchised, and weak.
African-Americans are dying economically, culturally, physically, and psychologically at higher rates than every other group in this country. We are treated like foreign objects within the body of America because spiritually it’s not our place of origin. In an immune reaction, the body will essentially ‘push out’ anything that doesn’t belong there. All the sabotage and hatred we’re experiencing now and throughout history, is a form expulsion. At this point, I don’t know if this nation is rejecting us or we’re rejecting it.
I’ve decided to let go of everyone’s thoughts about who, what, or how I should be based upon my skin color. I know who I am and not explaining myself to anyone. Watch me live. Groups across the nation are protesting one cause or another. It’s sad but revealing. Nobody knows who they are or where they belong. Everyone is fighting to establish an identity through force and intimidation. Fighting only creates noise. Noise is a distraction. When it’s loud, we can’t hear other or see what’s actually going on around us.
Live. Bless. Prosper.