What does it mean to be a black man?
I, being a black woman, should have the answer to this, right? Well, what I’ve begun to realize is that being black does not qualify me in any way to have the answer to this question. As a matter of fact, I came to the conclusion recently that I really didn’t know what it means to be a black man, nor am I qualified to put forth a meaningful answer.
So I’ve embarked upon a number of projects to try to uncover potential answers to this question from a number of different vantage points.
The first project, entitled I Heart Brothas (aka Bro-thology), is a Tumblr blog, where I scour the Internet for images, quotes and other content by and about black men, and repost them in gallery form. I allow what I see and experience through the eyes and hearts of others to inform my sensibilities. I can say this, that on Tumblr, when it comes to black men, I’ve seen the good, the bad and the downright ugly. That’s fine. That’s what life is all about. We’ve got to get more comfortable talking about the range of emotions that are activated within us when we encounter and consume images of black men.
The next, is my Portraits in Philadelphia series, where I decided to point my lens at everyday people, and present to you what is reflected back at me. I didn’t set out to photograph black men, but since I’ve begun this project, I am finding that I am drawn to black male energy. I am a black woman, aren’t I?
At any rate, I will be posting the most provocative and eye-opening content from both projects here under this banner, in hopes that I can spark some kind of meaningful dialogue around race, class and gender. I’m not going to make any grandiose claims or promises…but I will say this: What I’ve learned so far, is that the definition of a black man is fluid, ever-changing, contextual and complex. I have no idea where this will take me, but I hope that you will be right there alongside me as I embark upon this journey.