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BLACK. LIVES. MaTTER.
As a queer woman of color, all of my work - photography, coaching and art - is and has always been rooted in a foundation of active anti-racism and intersectional social justice.
The Black community of the United States has faced and continues to face down systemic oppression, including widespread, unchecked police brutality and discrimination, along with forms of silent, intentional and equally deadly policy-based social violence, including disparities in healthcare, food deserts, gentrification, poverty, school funding inequities, the school-to-prison pipeline, the cash bail system, disparate sentencing, environmental hazards and more. When this is coupled with individual experiences of aggression and microaggressions, constantly heightened fear for one's self and loved ones, and myriad other daily and historical traumas, the human toll inflicted upon Black people in this country is far higher than the physical murders and deaths we see in statistics.
Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice, just children. George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbury, just in the last three months. The list goes on and on and on. Philando Castile. Sandra Bland. Hundreds of names branded in our minds. Kira Johnson, who died following childbirth as medical personnel ignored her husband's pleas for hours. For each of these names, there are entire communities, parents, partners, children left behind. There is the always the lingering question of: who next? Which one of us?
Some might argue that this statement flies too boldly in the face of my work. If this is your feeling, I fear you have misunderstood the nature of my work. I create work rooted in the depths of what it means to be human, to be aspiring, to be evolving, to show up, and to enact love. Justice and equality are the deepest enactments of communal love.
There is no question of silence when it comes to the lives, liberation, joy, equality and basic human rights of my Black loved ones and their broader communities.
As the daughter of Indian immigrants...I'm well aware that my access and privileges have come to me as a direct result of the courage and tireless striving of the Black community to create a country based in its declared principles, and that my community has frequently failed to repay that debt. Worse, we have often allowed our identities to be weaponized ("model minorities") against the Black community in order to gain access to additional privilege.
I cannot claim to create work that allows people to feel seen if I do not engage in seeing the world fully and truthfully. Indeed, no marginalized community can be seen in fullness if we're unwilling to face and dismantle oppression. I continue to unreservedly support the work of the Black Lives Matter movement and engage in work within my communities (South Asian, queer, and local) to call people in, dismantle oppressive systems and shift racial dynamics in impactful and tangible ways.
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If you are new to anti-racism, and just feeling the early stirrings within you, please follow one of the phenomenal Black teachers below to get started on your journey:
Layla F. Saad - websiteRachel Cargle - Instagram Account
I love you all. Love is a verb. Black Lives Matter.