Dear Black Man series:

I thought I was losing interest or passion for photography. I even used these past few months in quarantine as an excuse; until a black man sparked that light back in me. He told me, “Don’t wait on the world. Capture it as is”. And that’s exactly what I intend to do. It’s important to me to show black men in a positive light, as I am raising one. It seems as though they’re rarely painted as anything more than a headline that led to a tragic ending. But they’re so much more. They’re providers. They’re protectors. They’re leaders. They love deeply. All you have to do is take the time to get to know them.


We were living in Louisiana and we were at the mall. We went to the bookstore and the kids picked out things they wanted, took everything up to the counter, and everyone behind the counter walked away. The kids were school aged, and Gregory was a baby at the time. I can’t remember if they realized what was happening at that time. But we put our stuff down and left. We never went to that bookstore again. Thankfully since then the whole chain has gone out of business. For me, being prideful, I work hard, I do everything I can for my family…and then to have that happen was…heartbreaking. That’s the best way I can describe it. That was probably the thing that angered me the most in my life. Out of all the things I’ve seen happen, that I’ve had happen…that angered me the most; only because my kids were there.

I think it’s important that the world knows that life began in Africa. It’s a scientific fact. Many of the technologies that exist today, including farming, started in Africa. We are not a threat. We are not a threat. We are not violent. We’re protective and we’re confident.- A retired Master Sergeant and military analyst. 



What makes me fucking infuriated is that they always presume that my dad’s not in my life. And I call my dad ‘My Old Man’ or ‘The Old Man’ a lot. I get it from my bosses and coworkers, they’ll say, “Oh do you know your dad? Is your dad around? Well where is your dad?” It’s the craziest thing to just automatically assume that a young black man doesn’t have his father in his life, or the fact that they think I struggled. Yea, everybody has their struggles, but I never really wanted for too much. I drive a nice car; I always wear nice shoes, even to work. Why would you just assume that I struggle? I’m in a better position than them financially, I’m their boss. Shit’s mind boggling honestly.

 Nobody’s the same. Nobody has the same set of experiences. Stereotypes are based off of truths but, it’s not everybody’s truths. – Recording artist/ producer and manager at Thorntons



My dad was in the Air Force and while stationed in Germany, and we didn’t experience racism then. I aint really experience racism until I got to the states. I was probably around the age of 10 and I had this one dude I was really cool with. This white boy, we were best friends at the time. He invited me to his birthday party. And it was a pool party. I had my hat on, still fully clothed. We got to the pool, and everyone was there; his parents and the other kids’ parents. So I start taking my hat off, my shirt off and just had on my trunks. So me and my friend jump in the pool automatically and was having a good time. But I noticed while I was taking my shirt off, all the other kids and their parents were looking at me weird. You could just see the looks on their face. I didn’t pay attention to it, cuz I really didn’t realize what was going on. Me and my friend were having a real good time in the pool but none of the other kids would get in. I heard other parents talking, and questioning if it was safe to get in the pool, almost like it was tainted because I was in it. They never got in the pool and started leaving after that. My friend’s mom sat me down and told me not to feel any way about it and that they didn’t believe in that. They told me I was welcome to come over any time I want. But that’s when I noticed that because of my skin and who I am as a male, that I’m going to have problems growing up.

It’s important that we support each other way more than we do. There’s way too many of us out here to not be in a better position in life. You see with a lot of other races, they make sure they look out for each other. I feel like if we start recycling the black dollar, we’ll be in a better position and not have to keep demanding stuff- other races will start demanding things from us. –CEO of Ghost_cleaningllc



  It was different living in New York. Once we were in our teens, it was like an unspoken rule where we knew what hoods to roll through and which ones we wouldn’t. If you were playing by the trains and the man comes, he might beat you down a lil bit. If you were playing ball at night and five-0 came through, there wasn’t a “hey fellas you need to go home”. You were going to get a little more than that, no doubt. When I got a little older and was playing sports, I dealt with other brothas from different nationalities and there wasn’t any beef except for the love of the game. For me, being in the military, you got to see how bad other countries have it in comparison to us here. Just don’t let what you think is going on in this world hold you back. If you do, then that’s on you. You’re considered the minority and you’re going to have to take the extra mile to get to where you want to be. Nobody’s going to give you a goddamn thing. We can’t wait for handouts, and then when the handouts don’t come, now you’re mad. Go get yours. Don’t wait for nobody to give it to you. Go for yours. No matter what. - Separated Ssgt, USAF and Truck Driver for 29 years.



  It was different living in New York. Once we were in our teens, it was like an unspoken rule where we knew what hoods to roll through and which ones we wouldn’t. If you were playing by the trains and the man comes, he might beat you down a lil bit. If you were playing ball at night and five-0 came through, there wasn’t a “hey fellas you need to go home”. You were going to get a little more than that, no doubt. When I got a little older and was playing sports, I dealt with other brothas from different nationalities and there wasn’t any beef except for the love of the game. For me, being in the military, you got to see how bad other countries have it in comparison to us here. Just don’t let what you think is going on in this world hold you back. If you do, then that’s on you. You’re considered the minority and you’re going to have to take the extra mile to get to where you want to be. Nobody’s going to give you a goddamn thing. We can’t wait for handouts, and then when the handouts don’t come, now you’re mad. Go get yours. Don’t wait for nobody to give it to you. Go for yours. No matter what. - Separated Ssgt, USAF and Truck Driver for 29 years.



 I can honestly say that in my 32 years I’ve never really experienced racism directly, more so indirectly. You just walk into a place and you can pick up on vibes, you can tell how people seem standoffish or blatantly bypass you to go help somebody else. Me being me, I’m more chill. It’s like I’ll see it, I’ll peep it but its nothing that I’ll just overreact off of. Now if it gets to be extreme then I will voice it. Right now people feel like we should stand up and speak our mind, but at the same time there’s a lot of opinions and not enough solutions. I want to make sure that whenever I voice my opinion it comes with solutions, rather than just adding to all the other baseless opinions. But I do think that in this day and age that this is the time for change. I just hope that it doesn’t die down in a few months. I really want to be able to look back at this 5 years from now and say ‘hey, this is where we were at in 2020. Now here it is 2025 and this is then change that we’ve made’. I don’t want to be just another footnote for 2020. We need real change and support. I know big corporations feel the need to put messages out about standing by the movement and support Black Lives Matter but I need more than that. I need more than just these corporations telling us they stand by us. Fight for real change, not just put out a statement and then behind closed doors you really don’t care. Don’t think throwing money at a problem is going to fix it. It’s not going to work. Once again, this is just my opinion, one of millions. Everybody’s so quick to act off anger, but it’s hard to act off love. People are afraid of feeling foolish or looking stupid. But life is all about leap of faith. Even when you look back at the marches with MLK… now it’s a more diverse group with us protesting. The ones who aren’t afraid to stand up. But once again, do it for the right reasons and not for clout. Everybody wants to “do it for the gram” you know? Nah, don’t do it for the gram. It’s time to step up and stand up. -Dynamic Routing Specialist-FedEx Ground



   I grew up in New Orleans, Louisiana and Mississippi was basically right next door. The grand wizard of the ku klux klan lived in Mississippi. I ran into a lot of racism living in the south. We’d be coming from a party and klansmen would run us off the road. The difference is that during that time, the most the klan would do is run you off the road. We didn’t have abductions and things like that. Between Shrewsbury and the wards (8, 9, 10th ward), if they messed with a little black guy then brothas were going to come get them. There was no calling the police. The irony of the situation was when I went to high school. I got accepted to Jesuit and was offered a scholarship based on my previous grades and ranking. Jesuit was a private school and predominately white. The year I got to the school, there were 1073 students and 69 were black. My mom forced me to go; I was used to the hood and wanted to go where all the black kids went. I played instruments and wanted to go to Saint Augusta. I enjoyed it though. It was a great experience because that was the extent of my experience being around white people. All those years before when I was living in the projects, the only time we saw white people was when we went downtown. -



   I was 16 the first time I stared down the barrel of a police service weapon. While it wouldn’t be the last time, it’s the one that I think about the most nowadays. I had just gotten my driver’s license and was dressed up, heading to a job interview. I was admittedly speeding in my Mom’s Civic but nothing crazy and got pulled over.  I tried to hurry the process along by admitting I was speeding and asking for a ticket because I didn’t want to be late. The cop paused a beat, then told me he smelled weed in the car. I must have looked at him like he was an alien. I told him it was my mom’s car and reiterated that I was going to an interview so that was impossible. That’s all it took. Gun comes out and a few seconds later, I’m face down in the Florida summer heat while he called for a K-9 unit. Needless to say, I didn’t get the job. Now as an adult and a parent, I look at my children getting older and this incident comes to mind. I’m tasked with teaching them to survive these same situations while also not sacrificing their courage and dignity. A high stakes tightrope we all must walk. In this fight, we have to walk together. - Trauma nurse and single father of three



   My experience as a black man overall has been positive. I realized in my youth that my blackness is not a curse; it’s actually a blessing. To be black is to be beautiful and to inspire others. And with that comes a lot of pressure. A lot of things on your back. So to be a black man you have to have huge balls because we carry a lot with us. Going to an HBCU, I know important it is to make a difference in our community and in our youth’s eyes. With the climate right now, I’m kind of stuck in the middle. Not with my beliefs but just with my situation because I am a member of the military; and when you’re in there you have to abide my certain things, but my black is beautiful and I’m gonna say it loud. And I am willing to die on that sword or that hill by being black. And if that means me getting kicked out, or reprimanded because the laws and statutes that they have coming out, I’m gonna hold it down for my people- that’s the right thing to do. In the most positive way, of course. –Area manager, SDHC & SPC Hill



My first 4 years in the military I went down to Valdosta, Georgia with one of my homeboys for his cousin’s graduation. Some of my other friends came down from Atlanta, So we ended up all going out that night and kicked it. After that we got back on the road to head back to South Carolina. During that time while we were on the road going back, I fell asleep. When I woke up, I woke up to police lights and they were taking my friend out of the car. So the police officer came around to my side and said they were gonna take him in because he was driving under the influence. They had me blow, I ended up passing, so they told me I could take his car and leave. And the time I didn’t know how to drive a stick shift and told them I would just ride back with them because our first sergeant from the military would have to come up there to get him out. They wouldn’t release him unless somebody came down and picked him up, so I said I’ll go to the police department with them and I’ll leave with whoever they send to pick him up. At that time the officer went over to talk to the other officer that was there and they talked for a few minutes and started laughing. Dude came back and told me to get in the car; so I got in the car. I asked where he was taking me and he never said where but just kept driving. We were headed back towards Savannah, Georgia. It was a few miles up the road and I knew people there. So I was thinking if he can get me to Savannah then I’ll be straight. All of a sudden the guy busted a U-turn and started going south. So I’m asking him where are we going and he never said anything. Then he got off the interstate, hit some little dirt road and he drove for a couple minutes and then he came back out onto a regular road. There was a corner store right there. So he pulls over, gets out the car and opens the door to tell me to get out. I’m asking him the whole time what’s going on and where did he take me. And all he said to me was “good luck”, started laughing and gets back in the car and drives off. So I walk into the gas station, I see this white lady in there. She was a younger chick and was barefooted. I ask her to tell me where I’m at. She starts laughing and said I was in Bloomingdale, Georgia. So at that point I go out to the pay phone and call my roommate and I let him know to call my assistant chief to let him know what was going on. The assistant chief calls me and told me they were going to send someone to come get me. So during the time that I’m outside on the phone with him, I’m waiting by the phone for people to call me back, I see a bunch of pickup trucks with rebel flags driving by. They’re yelling nigger out the window and shit. I get a phone call and it’s this white guy that I worked with and he lived 30 minutes away from there and told me to go back in the store and ask the lady if I could hide in the back of the store because they dropped me off in a racist part of Georgia. So that’s what I did. So I’m hiding in the back waiting on the guy to come get me. While I’m in there I could hear people come in and ask if she saw where I went. She told them that I went outside and that she hadn’t seen me. And that went on until my partner came inside and called my name. I jumped in the car and we left and he told me that the officer dropped me off in this racist part of Georgia to basically fend for myself. This happened while I was in the military. It’s crazy, we can be on the plane and be treated one way but when you’re in uniform, they do show some type of favoritism, letting you sit in first class, giving you drinks and all that shit. Then you’ll have white folks that’ll get mad about that shit saying we’re taking advantage of the shit. I’ve dealt with a bunch of shit being from Tennessee and going different places. I’ve dealt with the shit all my damn life.- Retired USAF & Supervisor at VA Hospital



(He blessed us with two stories) So this was me coming back from college my freshmen year. My cousin let me borrow her Buick Skylark. It was a ’89 and we called it the green goblin. The driver side of the car did not open, did not budge for nothing. So you had to get in through the passenger seat and climb over to the driver’s seat. This happened when we were in Punta Gorda and I had a completely different look back then. I had plats that I was letting loc up. The two people that were with me had dreds. So we see the police officer watch us get into the care. He followed us for about a mile and then we hear the sirens come on. He pulls us over and asked me to roll down my window. The first thing he says is, “why’d you guys switch seats?” I told him we didn’t switch seats and that the driver side door does not unlock. I told him he could try to open it if he wanted to; and the next 10-15 minutes this guy literally pulled and yanked on the door to no avail. So in my mind I’m thinking, “haha, jackass”. So he makes us get out of the car and I give him my license and registration. He comes back and of course everything checks out fine and he can’t tell us why he pulled us over except for the lame duck excuse of accusing us of switching seats. He clearly saw us from the store get in the way we did. He then calls for backup and now we’re waiting another 20 minutes. I had some mucinex pills in the front seat and he asks me if there’s anything I want to tell them before they test the pills. I told him to go ahead and test them and told him what they were. He kept saying that if he tests them and they turn whatever color (I think it was either blue or purple) that we were going down. By now I’m agitated. It’s cold and we all had on T-shirts and jersey pants. So they test the pills and everything comes back clean. But while we’re being held, they strip out the back seats, the trunk and didn’t find anything. I’m cold by this point and put my hands in my pants, and the cop makes me take my hands out of my pants, shakes my pants and sticks a flashlight down there searching for narcotics. So after all of this happens, they let us go without an apology nor citation. Of course they didn’t offer to help put the seats back in; we had to do all of this after they tore up the car. Had I did anything other than what I did, as far as “complying” to what they felt, I could’ve been George Floyd also. There’s never been a situation where I’ve ever felt safe being pulled over by the police. You’re a black male and you have to deal with discrimination. It’s part of your daily life. This creates a sense of fear, anxiety and anger more than anything


Story 2: This past year I was working as a teacher for Memorial Middle School and I asked the librarian to put up something about Hannibal Barca and how he waged war against Rome for 16 years. I also asked to put in a statement that stated how throughout history black people in general haven’t been shown to contribute anything and the only people who have done anything with antiquity throughout history have been white males and that’s the perspective it’s taught through. She felt that I was attacking her with that statement and told my AP this. She’s a black lady. She came to speak to me to be the buffer and told me I can’t make blanket statements about white men, or white people because her son’s white, etc. So I was thinking to myself that if she felt that much discomfort about me making that statement, what does that say about her? The principal went through the whole spiel of saying she’s not a racist. I never accused her of that and if she felt some way about the blanket statement she could’ve said something to me right then and there. Her momentary discomfort is what my life looks like. What I hate is that they’ll always push another black person to do the quelling for them. Stop doing that. Because at the end of the day, if we taught history you would actually see that white people, and white men specifically have been the most aggressive towards any other people on the planet but enjoy the reputation of being this fatherly figure, this pacifist, this person of ingenuity, and just someone who triumphs and so stoic. And that’s simply not the case. - Teacher



What comes to mind immediately is that…all we want to do is live. We want life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, the whole nine yards. Not getting shot during a routine traffic stop. Not being seen as a threat. We could be walking down the street in a full suit and someone will still lock their door when they see you. I’ve experienced that first hand. The things that we want in life are no different than anyone else’s. We take care of our kids; we work hard and do the best that we can. I think black men should have as many opportunities and are given as much leeway as our lighter skinned brothers and sisters in order to achieve the American dream. I’ve seen people with the same crime get charged very differently; one being white and one being black. One of them received probation and the other received ten years. We need fairness, an equal playing field. I know that if the playing field were equal, I know that corporate America would look a lot like the NFL and be predominately black. I think black men are super competitive. I think that because of our history we’re extremely driven. When given opportunities we tend to not look back. -HR Director for Marriott


D. Wright

When you speak with a certain level of education and intellect, people tend to question your blackness; they already think they know you because of how you speak or how you carry yourself. If your pants aren’t sagging or if you don’t have gold teeth or a bunch of guns and money then they don’t think you’re really black. I hate to see it. White people do it to black and blacks do it to blacks, and I hate it. -Rapper/Songwriter

Co-Founder of NuEra Music Group (New Album ‘Dope&Reckless’ available everywhere)

Mechanical Design Engineer for Polypack, Inc.



 This was back in 2008, and I was out in Riverview working out by my brother’s house. I’d been going there for several weeks at this point. But one of those days I happened to go off the trail, and that trail led to the back of the houses and the dog park area. When I rolled up the following day, there was a cop waiting for me by the pool, where I normally parked my car. I knew something was up as soon as I got ready to park. He immediately stepped out of the patrol car. He had the whole buzz cut look and he was a dick; I already knew what to expect. He starts asking for my ID and where I was headed. I told him that my brother lives here and I’ve been coming out here for several months to work out. I even asked if he wanted to come to my brother’s house, and of course he said no. He told me I had no business parking there or even being there. MY BROTHER LIVES HERE. He told me to not ever come back there, he better not see me again and all that type of shit. That was back in 2008; and I’ll be goddamn if I’m ever humiliated like that again. -Financial Lender



When I was around 12 or 13, we lived on an air force base in California. We had this pond in my backyard called The Duck Pond and I used to love to go fishing, pretty much every day. All I had to do was jump the fence and it was right there. I would go out there with my fishing poles and try to catch as many Bass and Bluegills as I could. One day I was out there with my waders on and I had a bucket full of fish and was headed back to my house and hopped the fence like I always did. I saw this woman walking her dog and was just staring at me. I didn’t think nothing of it at the time; until the cops came knocking on the door, basically asking if I broke into my own house. The lady claimed she knew the people who lived there; which she obviously didn’t because I lived there for about 2 years. I don’t see how I could’ve looked suspicious either; I was young, I had a fishing pole and fishing gear on. It didn’t make sense. Obviously she was that perturbed, and I get the whole practice of checking on your neighbors because I check on mine as well. But you can only check on your neighbors when you actually know your neighbors. Your first interaction can’t be you being nervous of a break-in. Your first interaction needs to a Hello at all times. To be honest with you, I don’t feel like anything’s getting better. I know a lot of people are hopeful, but we’re still putting our priorities into the wrong things. We have to hold people accountable. We need to look at what the real problems are that we have in the black communities. I think one of the real problems we have right now, is that we’re perceived as poor at all times; because as a whole, we’ve been systematically kept poor for years and years. We’ve been held out of the game for so long. We were kept from the GI bill when our black military came back from war. They weren’t allowed to even buy property, and that’s where most people’s wealth comes from. Look at Progress Village. That was the first place black people were allowed to buy homes here, and that wasn’t until the 70’s. We’ve kept these areas where black people could actually build wealth so poor. We fund our education system upon wealth; where our school system is built on our property taxes. And now school choice makes it harder. If you don’t have the way to drive your kid to school, then you can’t put them in a better school. Some people don’t have the jobs that allow them to do that. I think we need to be asking for more from our government, not less government. And we need to find the right politicians that actually spell that out. And I’m sorry, but I don’t believe that Biden or Trump is actually going to help out. And black people have overwhelmingly voted for Biden; he was for the segregationists, he’s supported these payday advance places being put everywhere in our hoods our entire lives. And we’re still putting our faith in these types of people. Even some of the black people aren’t for us either. All skinned folk aint kinfolk. We have to start realizing that we need to align ourselves into a policy that actually helps the lowest members of our society in order for us to get better.-Big Data Solutions Architect



I feel like we have a lot of issues as a black community that we have to put aside for a bigger cause. And for me that would be equality, opportunity and to be respected. In the process of doing so, we still have ignorant black people that are opportunists; and those are the ones we can’t take with us. They’re gonna mess up the cause. It comes from a deeper connotation because there were a lot of things that were instilled in us when we were taken from our native land; a lot of people don’t understand that for most of us, our native land is actually here, and also Africa. We all initially came from Africa, yes, but we’ve been here. That’s where they got the maps to circumnavigate. All the rioting and looting were things that were learned through our oppressors. We have to educate ourselves on our history and know exactly who we are, and understand financial literacy so that we can have real power. Companies right now are doing a lot just to pacify us. We actually spend the most money as a collective. If we actually understood that and came together… then we’d have a real political party where we can actually make demands. I feel like our people are demanding things, but we don’t actually know what we want. Until we get an actual plan down and organize and utilize our buying power, then we’ll make some noise. Until then, it’s just a recurring cycle. But I’m still in the fight for our people, and I want to see us grow. I feel that we all have a responsibility, we all have children, we need to teach them the right things and educate them on what’s really going on. We have to show them the way. -Insurance Sales Agent