While there have been many journalists covering the case of Freddie Gray and the subsequent protests. Few people have focused on what the community itself has to say, what it is feeling. Instead many news channels’ coverage has bordered on fantastical and often been laden with overtly racist commentary and imagery. The same visual stereotypes are printed and reprinted and a false conversation occurs about what causes these outbursts of rage. Yet the fundamental root of this rage remains a discussion that is off limits. Systems of institutional racism and white privilige are beyond the 60 second newsbite. And the true power of impoverished communities of color is reduced to a social phenomenon.
I’ve been trying to photograph the power of this community, Gilmore Homes and West Baltimore. I’ve been especially interested in the youth, the close friends of Freddy. The generation that is so often taken for granted by politicians, community and religious leaders, journalists, and the police. But, as we can see in Baltimore this generation is again saying, “Enough. We will not be abused anymore. We will not be shot by the police quietly. We will not be quiet. Because we are strong. Because we have nothing to lose. Because when we are together we can resist.” Ferguson and now Baltimore. This generation is in every urban center, or periphery. And the dynamics that lead to Freddie Gray’s death and the subsequent outburst of anger, are dynamics that are present in every poor community of color across the US. Yet our politicians and commentators still use words like thug, and want to focus on riots, looting, and property destruction. That’s where I believe it is our job as photographers to add complexity and subtlety to the visual public discourse.
I hope that this series adds context and humanity to the portrayal of the Gilmore Homes community (and other communities like it) and their response to the systematic repression they have suffered for decades.