“I See Black People”
It’s already six days into Black History month and I’m only just getting to a post now??! I know, I know, I only have 22 more days to celebrate black people so I better get on it huh? Well, you all already know who Martin Luther King Jr. is, and according to this video the general public knows some other black people, like Chris Foxx. Excuse me, I mean Jamie Rock. Gosh, I always get those two mixed up. Anyway, I think the best way for me to honor this special month reserved for celebrating black people is to publicly celebrate a few of the black people I know in my own life who are doing things to make the world look a bit more the way God intended – beautiful and with enough space for all sorts of life to flourish. I can’t think of a better place to start than with a Durham based photographer friend by the name of Sed Miles.
Looking at Sed’s photographs I am struck anew by how much beauty there is the world, primarily in the daily actions and mundane motions of ordinary people. Black people included. Sed has such a dignified way of capturing black bodies that celebrate the nuances, the joys, the challenges, and the realities of people’s lives. His images do not line up with any surveys floating around on the interwebs based on small pools of people about what it means to be black. I find Sed’s photos so refreshing because so much of what we see in the media is always some conglomeration of broad generalizations of “blackness” or the commodification of black bodies, suggesting countless ways black bodies can be used or exchanged from the coliseums to the catwalk.
In the days when every Tom, Dick and Harriet has a way of instantly capturing images and posting / sending them to friends, family and strangers we are reminded anew that images have the power to evoke such a range of feelings, or to unknowingly and knowingly perpetuate certain ways of thinking about the subject matter. Sed’s images remind me that people are individuals before they are collective groups. And his images make me want to siphon out those seconds of life that compel me to remember there is still reason to hope in goodness and possibility and ordinary healings.
Here are just a few of my favorites. I hope they add to your imagination like they have to mine on what it means to see black people, even if for only 22 more days.