western lights

I finally have the mental energy to write down the tale that preceded this photograph.
It’s a tale, so grab a cup of tea, a snack and settle in for the ride of a lifetime. (Or just like a slightly interesting story)
As we all know I headed off on a photo roadtrip to capture a series. The stirling ranges was going to be THE shot, this epic photo of Grace on the summit of bluff knoll, a beautiful sunset, windswept hair. Just basically this really stunning photo that inspires awe in everyone that sees it. We got in the car and started driving, admiring the blue skies, the picturesque white fluffy clouds. We were laughing, the hot air was blowing through our hair reminding us that summer was just around the corner, we were happy and loving life BUT ALAS! As we drove, the clouds began rolling in, I looked nervously at the sky and knew the photo i’d imagined was not to be.
We arrived. It was 3pm, the sign told us it was a 3-4 hour return hike, (the sun was setting in 3.5 hours) the sky was looking ominous and it had started sprinkling with rain. I considered bailing and coming back another time.BUT we were there, we didn’t have time to waste, so we hiked. Oh boy how we hiked, ipod in, gym playlist blaring, we powered it up in record time. The rain truly set in and everything was wet, the wind was chilling us to our bones, I hadn’t been prepared  for such bad weather so my camera was definitely getting damp, much like my mood and soul. (SIDE NOTE: I stepped on a cactus last week and i still have pieces stuck in my foot, they dislodged on the hike and caused true agony with every step. BUT KEEP WALKING I DID!) After what felt like a century in the north pole, we finally arrived at the summit. But a cloud had been conveniently following in our wake, and also blew in, completely obscuring our view. We were standing there waiting for the cloud to pass, in the wind, in the rain, soaked to our very core. I could hardly even use my camera my fingers were so cold. Eventually I decided we would just shoot anyway. The shot was the complete opposite of what i’d imagined but I knew it would still work in the series. Grace got changed into a thin dress, took her shoes off and stood on the cold wet rocks, in the face of the icey wind. As I took my photo I started noticing snow flying past. Anyone that was reading this thinking ‘yeah, as if it was even that cold, this is Western Australia’ YEAH THATS RIGHT! SNOW! I was so cold i could hardly photograph, i was genuinely worried about Grace getting ill, and I knew we still had to hike back down, and cactus feet over here would be slowing us down. I hoped i’d got a good photo but I really couldn’t even tell, my eyes hardly knew what was going on. So Grace got changed, as she put her last item of clothing back on THE CLOUD CLEARED and we knew we had to give it a go. So the clothes and shoes came back off and she stood nearly dying on the summit unprotected from the elements. Usually I shoot for longer, I like to move around a bit more and find the best shot, but time was of the essence here so I took a photo and yelled at Grace, OK LETS GO! She asked if I had the shot and I genuinely didn’t know. I couldn’t even focus on my screen to check. As we started walking back, a fateful rumble of thunder rolled through and we looked at each other in fear just as the torrential downpour started. The water was running in rivers down the side of the mountain and we started moving as fast as we could. Although my cactus feet were in agony, they were so cold I could hardly feel it (there is always a silver lining in every situation) but running/hobbling we finally made it back alive in one piece (at least on the outside, my sould was semi broken through the experience)  I’ve climbed a few mountains in my time but that was the worst hiking experience i’ve ever had. The entire time i was hobbling down i was questioning my life decisions. 'I’ve just booked a ticket to Nepal, how can i consider climbing everest base camp if i can’t even tackle Bluff Knoll’ 'I consider myself an adventurer, but this is horrible, who even am i?’ 'I’ve asked people to give me money to capture this series, is the entire thing going to fail miserably?’
I spent a horrible night doubting every single decision i’d ever made and considered quitting photography all together. But the next day I nervously looked at the photos and I was pretty happy with what I saw. It was the complete opposite to anything I’d considered for that location but it’s still an epic photo.
For those that read this entire story, well done! Thanks for staying, even though the end was super anticlimactic. As a reward for sticking through the entire saga, i’ve written an alternate ending for you.
The thunder rolled in and we looked at each other in fear. The torrential downpour started and we were stuck in a flood, our feet came out from under us and we were spinning down the side of the mountain hitting rocks and trees and getting struck by lightening. Alas on the way down I hit a rock and sadly died, but Grace made it down, she found my camera bag and looked at the photos. She knew these were the greatest photos ever taken and released them in my memory. The name Louise Coghill went down in history as being one of the bravest, most daring and talented photographers that has ever graced this earth.
The end. 

For the last 500 years, Western Culture has suppressed the idea of disembodied intelligences–of the presence and reality of spirit. Thirty seconds into the DMT flash, and that’s a dead issue.
—  Terence McKenna
flickr

Old Standard by Wil Wardle

I kind of want to see what would happen if there was a popular post in the OW fandom about how No One is white in overw*tch– because like technically, all the characters ppl see as white could just be white passing and monoracial or mixed race. Also, theyre all Latino, just for good measure. Like its totally fucking possible! We dont have everyones parents info or like their genealogical trees or whatever.

But then again I know what the reaction would be—a racist shitfest because OW fandom is a racist shitfest who have pretty uninformed concepts on how race and ethnicity work.

LIGHT GIRLS

I took a little break from doing work to check out Light Girls (which, like I guessed, was problematic). While watching, a few of the stories tugged at my heartstrings a bit and I had a flashback. 

When I was in middle school, some of my friends were browner than me. My being lighter than them became something to poke fun at. There was some lighthearted name calling and I went along with that because, y'know, it wasn’t a big deal.

What did bother me was something else they’d do. They’d roll up my sleeves and press their thumbs into my forearms to watch the color in my skin temporarily change. They’d press so hard, repeatedly, that my arms were often sore. I’d go home trying not to bump anything with my arms because of the soreness. At that age, when fitting in meant everything, I didn’t know how to tell them it was painful and that it made me uncomfortable. I just let it happen.

I always feared that they lumped my academic success with my complexion too, and I think that bothered me the most. I felt like I had to prove that I really was smart and talented and kind to combat the consensus that I received opportunities primarily due to colorism.

What is troublesome for me in my adulthood about the conversation of lighter skinned Black women is the pretending that guilt isn’t the bulk of what we feel. We over and under-compensate, deal with or rage against things because of guilt, not oppression. And light skinned guilt isn’t the same as white guilt. Light skinned guilt is knowing that you’re perceived as different from the very womb you were born from solely because your mother is browner. It’s knowing that the privilege you never asked for stems from and perpetuates violence against dark skinned people.

A few years ago my godsister’s dad made a joke about us all being on a plantation. My sister’s mother is very fair and so is her brother. She herself is just a bit lighter than me. Her father is dark. 

According to him they would all “be in the house” (he also mentioned that her brother would probably go and pass as white) and I would be in the field like him. My sister argued that I would be in the house too but he wasn’t backing down. When it first came from his mouth, Emerald would be in the field like me, I almost shouted “NO I WOULDN’T,” but I stopped myself. I feel overwhelming guilt every time I recall the level of offense I felt in that moment. Because what is shameful about being in the field? And why is washing dishes more distinguished than picking cotton? There is no “better n*gger.” The guilt we feel lies in the fallacy of the “better n*gger.” That is the way we have learned to survive.

Considering that, maybe I let them nearly bruise my arms because what amused them was a reflection of my own survival. 

My mom told me that when she shows her co-workers pictures of me they’re always surprised. And sometimes when I go to her job the people I meet are in awe when they see me. I notice them all trying to find me in her. They look back and forth and back and forth at us. Too often people can’t find me in my own mother.

I’ve always felt bad about that.

I will always feel bad about that.