How do you exist within a body at war? A war that is waged within against the conditioned force of self-hatred as the world around you affirms its humanity through your erasure and death. The question of how to exist within a black body is at the heart of Ta Nehisi-Coates critically acclaimed novel, Between the World and Me, written as a letter to the authors young child Samori in the continued wake of Black death at the hands of law enforcement. The power of Coates' writing lies in his capacity to wrench the lifeless language of theory and liberal discourse on race away from mere abstraction, reminding us of the visceral force with which bullets rip through flesh as the weight of trauma is perpetually thrust upon the body.
As a student of critical race theory and critical media studies, my interests lie in understanding how visual mediums have been used to erase or capture black death whether through lynching photography or live-streamed videos of police shootings. For this project I wanted to used the visual medium of photography to create a visual essay exploring the themes contained within Between the World and Me, namely the question of how one exists within a Black body in a world that seeks to destroy it. As I spoke with participants during our session I asked them questions such as: where in your body do you feel the weight of everyday existence in a racist society, how do you navigate through predominantly White spaces, how do you care for yourself, and so on. I asked participants to use their hands and body to demonstrate emotions of stress, anger, love, care, fear, and whatever other emotions they associate with being Black in America. I am currently in the process of recording interviews with each of the participants as well as expanding the project to include others.