With many young African Americans falling victim to the ”school to prison pipeline" and criminalization; what role does Black Innocence play?
Black Innocence is a photojournalism project designed to shed light on positive and uplifting images of African American youth. All too often the image of African Americans, especially Black youth, portrayed in the media projects and perpetuates negative ideas and images. Low self-esteem and negative self-perception breed unconstructive images and low expectations. When embraced, such images stifle opportunities and dreams. Statistics show that African American youth are given harsher penalties, for the same infractions, than their Caucasian counterparts for misbehaving in and out of school. The American Civil Liberties Unions states, “In 2003, African-American youth made up 16% of the nation’s overall juvenile population, but accounted for 45% of juvenile arrests.” …why is this? All is not, however, lost. The tide can be turned; transformation can happen. The photojournalism project, Black Innocence, aims to do just that.
…image issues and negative perceptions can be blamed for a lot, more than one might think. How influential is ones image? …our outer image is how others literally perceive us to be, unknowing of who and how we truly are. “You look smart” vs. “you look like a criminal”… Throw away the mental images that just consumed you, and think about these presumptuous phrases for a second. How we look at someone; directs the way we treat them. However, the conscious person can of course; combat these faulty image assumptions, but only if they’re aware of the impact and willing to think differently.
And we mustn’t forget the impact of ones image upon themselves! …the dynamic of self image/self perception and its influence on day to day behavior; can’t be overlooked. Just as people treat us based on the assumptions they gather from our image; we treat ourselves according to how we see ourselves. The child that sees themselves as a nuisance is much more likely to behave as such vs. the child who has been brought up in a family that has always told him/her he/she was brilliant. My grandfather use to always tell me I was going to be an architect. I was only four years old, I didn’t even know what an architect was, but I believed I could be one, I still believe I can. Beliefs can be spoken into existence, my grandfather proved that to me. Beliefs can also conditioned into existence through images and projected attitudes. The constant montage of negative images of African Americans are tearing down communities. Tell a new story, promote a new image.
Black Innocence sheds light on positive and uplifting images of African American youth rather than highlighting the negative projections. The project paints a non threatening, beautiful, and respectful image of African American youth. These images illicit no fear or disdain from it’s viewers. The saying, “a picture is worth a thousand words” still holds weight. Pictures can alter feelings and shift attitudes, positively and negatively. Promote and praise images that uplift.
Black Innocence Project