So I’ve been overwhelmed by the black panther comicon appearance and I’ve been dwelling on how revolutionary the black panther movie is going to be, what it’s going to mean to countless people when this movie comes out and how long we still have to go, So I decided to put this short photoset together to illustrate exactly how big of a deal it is and how it is bigger than one person.
it’s so bittersweet because when I was younger (especially growing up where I did, a black kid in Finland) I really wished I had more access to imagery and media that reflected who I was because it would have made my life radically different for the better and I wouldn’t be at 26 (STILL) doing damage control but on the flipside, I’m so in awe of all of the beautiful talent in 2016 that younger black kids are able to see and be inspired by.
I think I was like 4 years old when I conciously picked up race and color via watching Disney’s “Aladdin” and I noticed how Jafar, the evil royal guards etc the villains were more ethnic looking or a shade darker than the “good” characters.
it’s insidious because you’re seeing something but at age 4, you don’t have the comprehension skill or knowledge to break it down and see it for what it is (Colorism, Societal bias against black people which is rooted in centuries of white supremacist doctrine, society associates things that are dark/darker colors with evil, danger, ugliness, dirt etc) and reject it.
so you pick it up and see it on a surface level and you think to yourself “well darker must mean ugly, criminal and less human”…then what happens when you look at yourself in the mirror and find out that you are black?
and guess what? if a 4 year old black kid can pick that up and internalize that about him/her/themselves….then a white kid can sponge up the same language and imagery that dehumanizes black people too (subconciously/conciously)…what happens when when these people grow up? become teachers, doctors, law enforcement etc? what kind of impact is that going to have?
I’m going off on a tangent and that’s just one personal example but society does that on a global grand scale and it is largely unchecked.
but honestly though,look at the photoset and think about how many talented people out there that we love and respect….who would NOT have achieved the things they did if it wasn’t for another person before them inspiring them to reach their goals and acting as trail blazers when it seemed as though it was impossible….then think about the flipside and how many people, with all the potential in the world, never lived to become great because they were met with more images dehumanizing them than ones uplifting them…this is why the fight for HONEST representation is important and it continues.
For the December 2012 issue of National Geographic, photographer Michael “Nick” Nichols journeyed to the Sequoia National Park in California in order to capture photographs of “the President,” a giant sequoia that is the third largest tree in the world. Using 126 individual photos, Nichols stitched together a single image of the massive tree.
I had been talking to [National Geographic editor] Kathy Moran about the hypocrisy of the West, and I really wanted to do a series on the fact that we ask people living in rural spaces in Africa to do impossible things—things that we would never do ourselves. So I put out the word in Kenya and in Tanzania that I was looking for victims of lion attacks. Now, the difficult part is that the victims are often attacked because they’re in the wrong place, doing the wrong things. They’re usually inside reserves poaching or fishing. In a way, that can diminish what’s happened to them, despite the fact that their poverty led them to take those kinds of risks. This gentleman lost his arms going fishing in the evening, and on his way back got jumped by these lions. It’s a quandary for me because, on the one hand, I want to talk about what it means to live with these animals. On the other hand, we are talking about protecting these spaces and these guys are treading on them.
- Reportage photographer Brent Stirton in a conversation with Nick Nichols, with whom he collaborated on a feature about lions for National Geographic’s August 2013 issue. Read more on the magazine’s Proof blog. Also, view a multimedia presentation of Brent and Nick’s work here.
Caption: Yusufu Shabani Difika lost his arms in a lion attack in Tanzania’s Selous Game Reserve. Here his uncle bathes Difika, a father of two. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportage by Getty Images for National Geographic)