This Tuesday, August 9, marks the 2 year anniversary of Mike Browns death..
"The shooting of Michael Brown occurred on August 9, 2014, in Ferguson, Missouri, a northern suburb of St. Louis. Brown, an 18-year-old black man, was fatally shot by Darren Wilson, 28, a white Ferguson police officer. The disputed circumstances of the shooting of the unarmed man sparked existing tensions in the predominantly black city, where protests and civil unrest erupted. The events received considerable attention in the U.S. and elsewhere, attracting protesters from outside the region. They generated a vigorous national debate about the relationship between law enforcement and African Americans, and about police use of forcedoctrine in Missouri and nationwide."
The death of Mike Brown was the first protest of that kind that I attended and marched in. By 'that kind', I mean the kind that is about advocacy of not killing an individual because of their race. I never imagined that I would see the amount of racism that Black America experiences today. At the time I did not realize that this would become a common occurrence and that #BLACKLIVESMATTER would become the hashtag I use most frequently. #MIKEBROWN changed everything. There was no more nuance, nobody could tell me this wasn't real. I remember having a conversation with my dad, and he didn't believe me when I was explaining to him what happened.. he couldn't believe that something so obviously racist could be happening in 2014 in the USA.
It's 2 years later and it hasn't stopped happening. I've since moved from a big city, so I no longer march or protest these days, but I do talk. And I talk a lot; in hopes of my students or anyone around me, grasping what is happening to black lives outside of this very limited view they have at the border. Because in this marginalized community of border towns, the main issue is immigration.. and thats important, very important, and it requires all my attention. But, Black lives still matter..
In Laredo, there are about 10 people that identify as black. This city is 96% Latino and many identify as white because of the color of their skin. That is another blog post altogether (which I will do, I promise). The point is that because of the lack of black representation in this community, people here do not think #BLACKLIVESMATTER. Because it is not an issue, they have no interest in the news, and so they see it as a black issue and not their issue. Instead of being intersectional as minorities with another minority group.. most see it as not their thing. It sucks. But it's the work of being a bridge and so I'll keep talking because #BLACKLIVESMATTER.
So.. 2 years ago I attended the first #BLACKLIVESMATTER protest in Washington, DC. I took my camera because I didn't know what to expect and honestly I was so scared by what was going on.. I just wanted to be in solidarity with my black brothers and sisters. I am not one of those photographers that takes their camera everywhere. A lot of times, I want to experience things for myself and go through all the emotions right then and there in real time. I can't do that in the same way when I have a camera in my hands. If I bring my camera its usually for one of three reasons:
• THE UNKOWN
If I haven't seen it/heard about it before, its likely that many haven't. And if thats the case, it needs more visibility. Document the unknown so it becomes known. I cant claim ignorance when you've been informed.
Fear is actually the biggest thing that makes me grab a camera. Fear of this shit show of a world we find ourselves in, fear of myself, fear of my feelings.. on most days, I'm crying behind the camera. This is just a tool to hide my tears.
To show you actual documentation so you know this is happening and we need to be speaking and advocating for this. You may know this is happening, but maybe you have not seen it, once you see it... you can't deny it... although today it seems more and more video footage and images don't matter #PhilandoCastile #AltonSterling..but still advocacy, very important, and video footage and photography play a big roll in that.
On that day 2 years ago, I brought my camera for all of the above. I would like to share with you what I was able to capture in solidarity with #BLACKLIVESMATTER and this continuous hope that a cease fire soon come.