"The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall." - Nelson Mandela
Aged fifteen years old, whilst en route to returning a VHS movie to the video store, I remember it being a Sunday, dinner had been digested, and the only thing on young imagination was Selina; the girl courage had yet to talk to, for she was always there on the same journey to and from school.
And just like that; a metropolitan police van pulled up alongside, one burley officer rolled out, said I was being arrested for robbery, and thirty seconds later, face down on the van floor, handcuffed, knees weighting their ignorance on a barely formed teenage back, after kicked twice, held down throughout, after three hours in police custody, reading the carved initials on the walls of a concrete cell, complete with an half inch mattress, and a toilet, with as much charisma as this blog metaphorically bleeds to find, because the mood is grim, and the connection is bitter sweet, released without charge, and no parents to pick a bewildered thinking up from where it had crashed landed, walking out of the police station it couldn’t be helped- that feeling of a young boy had just spawned his hate for the police- the same “establishment” old folk warned was coming all black boy’s way.
VHS; that long ago, and along the route of this racist rite of passage, after episode, after chapter that the racist rite of passage belligerently conjured up, come the year 2020, black people are more than twice as likely to die in police custody in the UK, and dieting on the atrocities of Apartheid, simultaneously cajoled by Garveyite sensibility, and well accustomed to America’s killing of unarmed black men, often streamed just after it was witnessed live, the death of George Floyd has provoked what the black body-politic has always been aware of, and it seems the entire world is disgusted, millions of people worldwide have held placards, and marched in solidarity against a “white supremacy” movement that has covered a lot of ground, and removed a lot of people from what generations refer to as home.
Here in the UK, photographing what has been the physical outpour of emotion, whilst on 'lock-down', due to the 'Covid 19' epidemic, it’s fair to say, and vital to add that capturing the social ambiance has reminded myself of the personal connection between what I see, and why it has provided me the language that speaks to the composition of all my work.
Fundamentally, what the subject means to the perception of my lens, is in effect, how life feels, how vision has always seen it, how fate has always deemed the outcome to be, it remains to this day the provocation to the inspiration, of which aspires to “we shall overcome”, by any means necessary, a universal black narrative that black tribes spoke and still speaks, and maybe, just maybe, after all this time, after essays, and journals, and now my photography, just maybe the sole right of liberty is a universal language spoken by the wagging tongues of all humanity, for sure this time, for the last time, and only because the black body narrative, has died speaking with an undertone of involuntary tradition.