Who am I? A photographer who hates writing about herself. No seriously. I do. At this point I could regale you with stories of my youth, to include the cliche of running around as a toddler with a 35mm camera in hand, but no that's not how...
All American is a photo series dedicated to celebrating people of color in American culture. Growing up a black woman in America, I would often hear the phrase, "All American", but I would never think of myself. Typically the first thing to come to mind, were people who did not look like me, followed by sports and then Captain America.
I was moved to start this series nearly 2 years ago after watching my then 4 old daughter , Nylah, profess with glee that she was beautiful. The reasoning behind her proclamation was not simply because she adored what she saw when she looked in the mirror or even that her father and I deemed it so. No, she had placed a bath towel on her head and pretended to have long "golden beautiful hair just like Queen Elsa". Now far be it from me to deny my daughter the wonderful world of make believe, quite frankly I did the same as a little girl. But her logic gave me pause, see I remembered that somewhere along the way, I was told that my hair was nappy and had to be straight to be presentable, that my nose was too big and I wasn't pretty enough just as God made me. Leading to years of my wishing that I looked like someone other than myself. I know it's hard to imagine all of that from something as innocent as pretending to be character from the biggest Disney movie of 2013, but I just couldn't let it go.
This incident occurred right around Nylah's birthday, July 6th, and I was feeling patriotic, I decided to search the phrase "All American" in Google images. The search returned thousands of images, however only a hand full the images were of people of color. In the immortal words of Gru "lighbulbbbb!", The All American Series was born.
Since I have a passion for photography, I figured why not take plctures of people of color and post on social media with the hashtag AllAmerican. Make an effort to change the stereotype that is associated with the phrase and maybe, just maybe have an impact on the images that come back in search results, provided someone else becomes curious and decides to Google the phrase.
On July 20th, 2014, I did my first session for the series and I have been working at it ever since. All of the images are captured in and around the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia. So far so good.