Though it was my intent to post my first entry to this blog on 5 October which represents the beginning of my 53rd year, the events of yesterday evening represent poignant examples of the very purpose of this photo-journal.
In preparation of two seperate but related photographic exhibitions planned for an October launching, namely Washington Nationals Baseball Stadium Under Construction and Logan Circle Under Reconstruction, I'd rush to Utrechts at 13th Street between New York Avenue and I Street in NW on the evening of 3 October 2006 to pick up an 11 x 14 inch frame.
Having deboarded the subway at Metro Center's 13th and G Streets exit in downtown, when walking north on 13th in the direction of Utrechts my enthusiam in anticipation of the exhibits would dampen as a haunting feeling that is not unlike the feeling that I get when walking in the direction of The Gap or when I realize that I must visit Safeway in SW. Which, you would think that as a repeat customer and over a span of many years that I would be more respected. And, certainly, not disrespected. But nothing could be further from the truth.
As a 53 year black man I have less freedoms now than I had 35 years ago. And, the said fact is that my nephews and their sons have enjoyed less freedoms than I. Which is in sharp contrast to my white counter part. And, in fact, places that I have gone or frequested in the past with my white friends I'm not welcomed ... no more.
The criminalization of black males.
Just feet from the entrance I'd reflect on my experiences in the past when I had visited Utrechts. As had been the case in February when Richard who is white had accompanied me From the moment that I walked through door, a feeling of oppression and racism would befall upon me as all eyes became fixated upon my every move.
As I approached the cashier several people including a white girl and her black boy friend ran up behind me to verify that I placed onto the counter what I had picked up over there. I turned and said, "I'm sick and tired of shopping at Utrechts and being treated just the opposite as I would if I were white!". The white girl and black man looked at me as if I should understand why they were standing behind me ... as if it is their right. And when the young white male clerk behind the counnter chuckled saying "... that's so wrong ..." I snapped 'O, please. You did the same thing. It's not funny. At least, not to me. A black man!'. And, yet, if a black employee were to mistreat or disrepect white customers it would be against the law. And, in sharp contrast it is the law of the land to disrespect, police, oversee and discriminate against black males.
And, in sharp contrast to the experiences of my white friends many who go shopping and driving on drugs as a 53 year black man who, over practiced integration, I have less freedoms now than I had 35 years ago.
A carceral society gave rise to the white man who on 4 July said to me "I'll call the police" when I objected to him and his sons watching me take a piss in McDonalds just one block from the White House. A caceral society gave rise to the white man one year before on 4 July who on the subway attempted to provoke me by demanding "you wanna hit me!" as reacted to my photographing the Smithsonian Folklife Festival.
A carceral society garnered white boys in catering to demand 'Can you get me some drugs?". A carceral society garnered, the white man, the right to approach me about drugs on 22 September 2001. A carceral society rationalizes why when white men on drugs come around I have to give a urine sample.
A carceral society speaks to why many young black females, in recent years, enroll in crminal law.
To gain a better perspective of what I'm talking about may I suggest that you listen to The Funkinest Journalist 26 September 2006 interview with Johonna McCants of the University of Maryland pertaining to Carceral Studies Working Group: Analyzing the Prison Industrial Complex or download MP3 streamline.