photojournalism and documentary photography

Misery Loves

On November 22, 2017
On 2nd Avenue, East Village, NYC
When I was six I asked my mother if animals go to heaven when they die. She said no. I said….what about dogs? Do they go? She said no, they don’t go to heaven. Heaven is only for people. Why, I asked? Because….only people have souls. Animals don’t have souls. I don’t remember if I accepted this, but I did wonder at this strange anatomical difference between Us and Them….people come equipped with souls and therefore have greater depth and value than any animal ever could according to my mother and whatever line of established thought had convinced her of this surprisingly callous belief system. It was also at this time that I had asked a neighbor of ours in the apartment complex where we lived if women could be astronauts. He said no….only men can be astronauts. And I asked what about doctors? Can women be doctors? And he said no, only men can be doctors. So…..I thought why not? And I asked Why Not? And he said because men are better at these things than women. And so I thought to myself that at least women are better nurses! And so I said Are women better nurses than men? Because even at six I realized that nursing was a generally female profession. And he said No! Men are better nurses. And I got a little flustered and angry. Well, what about teachers? Because all of the teachers in my elementary school (Audubon Elementary in Audubon, Pennsylvania) were women….And he said No. Men are better teachers than women. And I countered with What about cooks? Are men better cooks than women? And….he said Yes! Men are better cooks than women. I got frantic, and strangely embarrassed and defeated. What about mothers….are men better mothers than women?? And I don’t remember his answer….but I felt terrible afterward. Because I believed him.
And I guess I believed my mother about animals not having souls. Because I didn’t feel so bad about eating them. And, in the 1970’s when I was a kid, having a lucky rabbit’s foot was an unbelievable luxury. Real, with bones clearly felt beneath the silky fur, and toenails. It never occurred to me to consider the rabbit that these rabbit’s foot keychains were made from. And mink coats….it never occurred to me to wonder what a mink was, or consider it as a living creature or wonder what in the world a real mink looked like. Or cows, and pigs,,..or all those hotdogs and hamburgers and the bolt to the head that they must endure before dying.
I looked at this dog named Sheila and I saw her love for her owner, and I felt and observed clearly her misery. And….I thought to myself that this is not ok. Those heartwarming pictures of homeless guys and their dogs, some of which I’ve created myself, are somewhat stereotyped. On Skid Row, where it’s warmer year round, living conditions for animals are sometimes far below the level at which one can say that it’s acceptable…..but at the very least the weather is warm. But in New York it’s a whole different circumstance…..watching and waiting, and shivering in one place, or a succession of places, essentially motionless for most of the day while the owners spend their waking hours trying to get high just struck me like a bolt for the first time.
Hey, I thought….this actually isn’t fair. Not if you give it any thought at all.

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The Muslim community is mourning the passing of Nabra, a 17 year old young woman from Sterling, VA. Nabra was beaten to death with a baseball bat and left in a pond after going missing while walking to a mosque with her friends. Hate crime against Muslim Americans is at its highest point with more than 67% increase since 2016. Nabra is another example of the escalating violence towards Muslims Americans. Activists gathered at Union Square to hold a vigil for Nabra and her family and to stand against violence against Muslim Americans. 

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March for the Gurlz: Stop Killing Black Trans Women

Since the beginning of 2017, 7 Black transwomen have been murdered. Living at the intersections of race, gender and sexuality, transwomen in Atlanta and nationwide are demanding an end to this violence.

On March 26th Atlanta came together to take over the streets led by Black transwomen to celebrate their lives and mourn the ones we’ve lost.

For more information visit: IG @snap4freedom

Follow my photography: IG @ tifthephotographer

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#DefendDACA: Donald Trump announced that he is repealing the program known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which allows immigrants who entered the country as minors to receive a renewable two-year period of deferred action from deportation and eligibility for a work permit. Many undocumented minors will be at risk of being deported to a country they know nothing about. New York, a city of immigrants, showed up at Foley Square to stand with immigrants and defend DACA. 

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Vigil for #KaliefBrowder, a young man who took his own life after years of reliving the trauma of spending three years in an adult prison beginning at the age of 16, for the crime of stealing a backpack in which he never was convicted. His wrongful imprisonment is another example of the flawed justice system that has stolen the lives of so many innocent people. 

Malabarista. Circo de las Américas. 2017

Camarín de circo. Circo de las Américas. Córdoba. 2017

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#SayHerName: A Vigil in Remembrance of Black Women and Girls Killed by the Police. Although Black women are killed, raped and beaten by the police, their experiences are rarely foregrounded in our popular understanding of racialized state violence.

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#BodegaStrike: On February 2, 2017, Yemeni business owners across New York closed 1,000 bodegas and grocery stores from 12:00pm to 8:00pm in response to the Trump administration’s “Muslim Ban” executive order. This shutdown was a public show of the vital role these grocers and their families play in New York’s economic and social fabric. The community organized a rally at Brooklyn Borough Hall in downtown Brooklyn to pray together and share stories of how the Muslim ban has affected their families. 

This was one of the greatest demonstrations of solidarity, love and positivity that I have ever seen. The energy was electric and contagious, I found myself smiling uncontrollably and having so much fun. I hope these photos show that Yemeni Americans are peaceful loving people who deserve to be given a chance at life in this country.