BY SYREETA MCFADDEN | THE GUARDIAN
As the presidential campaign awakens racist rhetoric, black art is, this time around, unconcerned with the emotional wellbeing of white folks.
Black American culture is experiencing a kind of delicious dominance at the moment. It’s one that might seem odd given its contrast with the resurgence of racism embodied by some supporters of Donald Trump. But Trumpism, as my colleague Steven Thrasher has noted, is just the latest version of a pattern in America: black progress beckons white rage.
This artistic triumph isn’t a new movement, then, but rather reads like one because this time around, creators aren’t making work that over explains black life or that makes white society comfortable, centered or even included. Beyoncé’s Lemonade was made to speak to black women. Larry Wilmore’s N-word use at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner wasn’t meant for the white people it offended. Shonda Rhimes is the most successful showrunner in television, creating space for black actors to feature complex representations of black life. Claudia Rankine’s critically acclaimed volume, Citizen, explicitly interrogates micro aggressions that shape black life in America.
As black deaths overtake the news cycle and the current presidential campaign slog has shaken awake racist, inflammatory rhetoric that many non-black Americans want to believe was dead, black art is unconcerned with the emotional wellbeing of white folks. The cultural work of black American creators at this moment is exciting, energizing and a reflection of the ever maturing consciousness in black America.
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Glenford Nunez is as humble as his fashion photography is fierce. His portraits, which he creates at his downtown studio, are striking and bold — often mysteriously beautiful. But he’d never tell you that. ” try not to take myself too seriously,” he said with a laugh. While he just started photographing two years ago and launched Trust Your Photographer this month, Nunez is already in high demand. He works with companies based in New York and Los Angeles, but shoots his models in Baltimore. Last fall, he was tapped to shoot New York Fashion Week for Pop Africana Magazine and is currently working on “The Coiffure Project,” a coffee table book showcasing natural hair.
Nunez recently landed a large spread in a national magazine coming out next month (he isn’t allowed to say which one). He maintains a steady schedule of four paid shoots a month and then devotes the rest of his time to personal projects. “I remember even telling friends and family that I wanted to be a photographer in Baltimore and they’d tell me I was crazy, that there’s no market,” he said. “I just put faith in the industry to judge me by my work.” -Jordan Bartel
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Featured Image: Nehemi Sejour Natural Hair Portrait Coiffure Project – We shot this outside on a portable backdrop. I forgot the location but I know that it was outside. Maybe it was at Power Plant Live. They have a huge canopy in the back near the stage that creates some really pretty light. It used to be one of my favorite spots to shoot until being asked to leave by “top flight security”. People take their jobs way to seriously. I wasn’t breaking any laws it was a public place but people don’t like to see you doing anything other than what they imagine you should be doing. Im not mad at the overzealous security dude. He probably was dealing with some things.Fortunately that incident happened after this shoot and I was able to photograph Nehemi in peace. I shot this with the Fuji! Prob one of my favorite cameras. The FujiFilm x100s is oh so nice!
More Images: I posted images of the Baltimore Uprising 2015 when the events were unfolding but I felt uneasy about sharing the images. I didn’t want to capitalize on the plight of the people. So I took them down.
I felt uneasy about the culprits of the media circus pitching their tents around me. I kept thinking to myself “Is this real life? Is this really happening” I knew that things hit the fan when Anderson Cooper from CNN news walked by. A friend who saw the images convinced me to post them again. The images you see here span two days after the “riots” (I use that term very loosely) happened. I did a project with Aljazeera America entitled Life after Michael Brown I shared with them some of the same feelings that I have expressed in this post.