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📸 MOST POWERFUL PHOTO OF THE WEEK 📸
Hannah McKay / Reuters
This week, not going to lie, it was almost impossible to choose the most powerful photo. How to sum up the rollercoaster of historic voting turnout, the anxiety of waiting three days, the tight vote margins in key states, the outpourings of protest and celebration? It's a lot to ask from one photo, and a very tired photo editor.
That said, I can't get this frame by Hannah Mckay for Reuters out of my head — it stands for so much. While Joe Biden did soundly defeat Donald Trump in the election, winning both the popular vote and the Electoral College, the blue wave in Congress did not materialize, and for many, the margin by which Biden won was way too close for comfort. After four years of scandals, almost half the country still voted for Trump and Trumpism isn't going away merely with his defeat.
📸For Your 👀 Only:
WHAT IT'S LIKE IN WISCONSIN
Rashod Taylor is a fine art photographer based in Illinois who has been exploring the experience of Black Americans through projects such as Little Black Boy and My America. As the election comes to a close, Taylor's images are a poignant reminder of the work still ahead.
Can you talk a bit about the idea behind My America and how the project got started?
The idea with My America came after years of reflecting on the killing of Trayvon Martin and countless others. I wanted to have a series that told the story of what it is to be Black in America. There is this duality in America which is founded on the premise of equality, liberty, and freedom for all. However, these ideals of equality and freedom for all are not for everyone in our country. Black people live in a country that in many aspects treats them as second-class citizens.
I included imagery that is important in my life and items that symbolize the complicated feelings that I have as a Black man living in America. Take the image of the gun. As an African American man, you think about protection, and at the same time, gun violence has disproportionately harmed Black Americans, along with police brutality. So things like that are important and mean a lot to me. And as a Black man, I want to be able to protect myself, but in the country that we live in, there's this apprehension about African Americans being gun owners. I'm interested in that dichotomy — As you go back into history and look to the period of time when slaves were freed, the government did not allow Black people to own guns. This was used as a method of control and to assert power over a group of people to not allow them the fundamental right to protect themselves. There are still remnants of this complex even though we can own firearms.
This project has a deeper meaning as it pertains to my son. The image of him means a lot with everything going on. The next generation sees things differently. They see the world as a more inclusive place. With all the marches and people coming out and voting, I feel like this generation and the one after that is really poised to make a change and will make a difference in our country.
What do you want a viewer to get out of this project?
I want the viewer to get a good looktas what it is like living in America as a Black man. I use the wet-plate collodion process to connect the past to the present and explore the atrocities of slavery and Jim Crow, and the institutional and systematic racism that is still so tightly woven into the fabric of American society. I am setting out to capture the Black America that I live every day, which can be foreign to some. I am striving to shed light on what people either don't want to see or refuse to acknowledge.
Where is this project going next?
It's really a kind of expansive project. I'm working on getting it funded, because wet plate is not cheap. Honestly, I would like to spend some time in the Deep South, and part of the reason that I like the idea of wet-plate collodion is that it came around in the 1860s, right around the time the Civil War is going on, and I like the idea of keeping that history and connecting the past to the present, going back to some of those places that have significance in my life and in history. I'm pretty ambitious. It will be a matter of time, but I plan to add to the project little by little.
It would be great to get this into a gallery or into a museum. You almost have to see the plates up close to appreciate them. It's part of the reason that I got into wet plate. I used to make a lot of images on my digital camera and would never print anything. This process gets me back to my roots of being in the darkroom and developing and printing my work. The output of a tintype or ambrotype is just a beautiful thing.
Can you talk about a favorite image from this series?
The image titled "The Future." This one is my favorite because it's an image of my son, but it also signifies hope — the hope I have that my son and other Black and brown kids will have a better future than the present. That this generation or the next will see true equality in America.
Any final thoughts?
With this series, I want to inspire hope in people. It's not all doom and gloom. Obviously, our past is very horrific. However, we're still standing, and we're still moving forward, and it's really about hope and what we have to look forward to in the future with the next generation. The demographics in this country are changing, and that fact is really scaring people, which has been evident in this election and in 2016. This series is really a byproduct of the changing demographics and what our future is, with kids and young people who haven't experienced per se racism, even if it is still there. They haven't had the experiences that my father or my grandfather or I had coming up. They have a fresh perspective, which is really encouraging.
📸THE WEEK'S PHOTO STORIES FROM BUZZFEED NEWS 📸
This week...was really a decade long, when you think about all the *content*, but within that, we have some great stories for you. Here are a few favorite, the rest from our desk can be seen on the JPG homepage.