I have been noticing something in the local photography community lately, and it's honestly been very.... well I can't put it into words. It's been making me mad. It's been hurting me. Utah photographers, I am so proud with all the support with the BLM and for BIPOC, like seriously so proud, but it is NOT ok to post your clients who are bipoc, just because they are bipoc. We are more then just our skin color. Why not post about how great of people we are? Why not post our story? Why are you using our skin color for your gain and image? Why are you targeting other photographers for not posting a lot of bipoc on their pages? I hate to break it to you, but Utah is a mostly white state. Even as a photographer who is a person of color, I have not photographed many other bipoc in my 2.5 years of living here. There are some photographers who have never photographed a person of color before. Why are you telling the photographers who are not posting a lot of bipoc they are not supporting us 100%? Why are some getting told to give up some of their clients to photographers who are bipoc? They have families too. They have homes they need to pay for as well.
Now then, here's how we as photographers can help other photographers who are bipoc without ruining our businesses and can still support our families.
1. Share posts of bipoc to your page! 2. Have a client ask you to shoot something you don't shoot? Recommend them to a bipoc photographer who does offer it, but still make sure they can give the quality the client wants. 3. Keep posting about BLM! Don't stop! 4. Be our friend. Let us rant to you about our hardships we go through, listen to us. 5. Don't be an asshole. That's just a given for everyone. Remember you don't know everyone's life or circumstances. 6. Don't post your bipoc just because they are bipoc!!
Picture by Emily from Between the Canyons And enjoy this photo of me at work
I went to my very first protest On June 2nd. I am sick and tired of fearing for my family's lives. I am sick it tired worried I'll get a call from my mom saying my brother(s) was pulled over and shot and killed because an officer was afraid he'd hurt them, or my dad! I'm sick and tired of getting called the N word. I am sick and tired of hearing how black people are "dirty trash". I am sick and tired of hearing the N word as a joke. We are not a joke! We are not your target practice! We are not scary, we will not hurt you (at least with my family). We just want to live our lives! We have lives.
So here's my opinion about everything going on with the rioting. I'm honestly so confused. I don't believe in violence. I don't believe in stealing. I 100% support peaceful protests. At first I was against everything going on, and then my amazing fiance made a very good point. We have done all that we can peacefully and we still weren't being heard. I was against it because I was and currently still am afraid that my family will get hurt. I am worried people will use this fear and everything going on to harm those I love. I am afraid someone will see my brothers and hurt them or KILL them because they see black men and will be afraid my brothers are there to try and hurt them, do they hurt back to "protect" themselves. I am afraid for my nephew's futures. I am afraid for my dad, who has been attacked before over his race. And that's the problem. I am afraid people will hurt my family because we are black, and THAT'S why we are protesting. I still don't believe in violence or theft or destruction of property, but property can be replaced, lives can not. My family can not be replaced. We are fighting for not only our rights and freedom, but also our safety. We just want to be heard and feel safe.
As this month has gone by I have seen so many different opinions. I have seen "All Lives Matter", "Black Lives Do NOT Matter", "My Life Matters Too" and so much more. I have seen people insist that white privilege isn't a thing and just a way for us people of color to be racist. I have seen a lot of things that has made me even more disappointed in my peers, friends, family, and strangers, but I have also seen things that have made me so proud that I'm surrounded by the people I am. But how can we say all lives matter when there are people fearing for their lives over their race because there are people out there who want them dead simply because of the color of their skin. How can my life matter when to some, it does not? I do agree all lives matter, but not everyone sees it that way. All lives matter is the goal of where we want and need to be as humans, but we are not there yet.
As you are about to read below, I have experienced all sides. I experienced racism just as bad as someone who is fully black, I have experienced white privilege, I have experienced racism on all sides.
If you watch the tv show on Netflix called "Dear White People", one of the main characters is Samantha White, she is half black half white like I am. She went to an ivy league school and in the black housing, and there she was too white for the black kids, but too black for the white kids, and she identified herself as a black women. Never before in my life have I seen something I 100% relate to. I have never related to a tv character so much before where her pain has brought up my pain. Where her experiences are very similar to mine. Getting called a "monkey", "half breed", and so many other names. Getting constantly reminded that we are only half, that we have lighter skin (and boy, lemme tell you, I am fully aware of how white I am), so therefore we don't know what we are talking about, but we do! I know not all mixed children experience racism to the fullest degree, I know I haven't, but I have watched it and seen it with my dad, I have experienced racism in general with myself because I'm just "ethnic looking" and met so many people who are just scared of me because they don't know what I am. Let me say that again. People are scared of me because they don't know what I am. And when I tell them I am half black and half white, I have to be careful because I don't know what the reactions will be. I have received love and understanding, but also hate and feeling like I am in danger. But here's the main thing, is why are people scared of me? Why do I get told frequently people are so happy that I'm not part of a gang, or going to rob and kill them? Why are people saying it's because that I am half white that I won't do that? Why can't they just realize because my parents are good people and they raised me to be a good person? What does my race have to do with my character?
Now then, let me also remind you I have experienced white privilege because I have very light skin. When I was a child our family did not go to Denny's. The manager there did not like my dad simply because of the color of his skin. He was worried my dad would rob the restaurant or kill him. Because of the color of his skin. When we went there as a family we wouldn't get greeted, we would stand at the entrance watching the WHITE families getting seated first when they come in after us. When my mom finally asks what's going on and we get seated, we wait for at least an hour to finally get asked what do we want to drink. I will admit, my dad has a temper, but he is all bark and no bite. At that point my dad is yelling and swearing at the staff because we were there at that point for an hour and a half just waiting to get a seat and get drinks while the people who came in after us were already getting their food. I remember my dad demanding to speak to the manager, and the manager refused to go see him because he didn't want to be around "those monkeys and their half breeds". At that point I was still young enough to not realize what was going on. The next month I asked my mom to take me there, just the two of us, and all of a sudden we had our food in less then 30 minutes, and the manager was happy with us and talking to us and making jokes! My mom was fuming, I couldn't understand why, that is until she lost her temper (which does not happen often) and what made me realize what was going on was when my mom said "Why are we getting better service now, and not when she was with her BLACK husband." After that we paid and left. I never knew what was going on until then. When I moved to Utah, I noticed things were easier for me, like going to the ER, I was suddenly in and out within 4 hours tops, verses the normal 12 I grew up with. It's not like in Idaho when I was there for 12 hours it was busy, no I literally heard the staff argue over who would help the "ni**er family". Just so everyone knows, I didn't know what the N word was until I was 16 years old. Until I realized it was a bad word, I thought it was something normal people said because it was always used at me and around me. I used it freely because I didn't know what it was. I didn't realize it was racism until I got older and learned about that word. When I moved here I didn't hear it as often. Nobody called me that. When I got pulled over yeah there were cops who were racist but I knew it wasn't because I was black, it was because they were racist over anyone and everyone who are people of color. The first time I got pulled over here in Utah it was for a broken head light. I did everything my mom and dad taught me to do. Keep my hands where the officer can see them, tell them my every move before I do it, ask for permission before I do anything, and most of all try and keep my very curly hair hidden (they didn't teach me that, it's something I learned the hard way). I was worried the officer would ask me to get out of my car and I wouldn't come home that night, but instead he asked me why was I doing all of that and told me my head light was broken and told me places where I could get it fixed. I was flabbergasted. I have never been treated so nicely before by an officer. I wasn't told to get out of the car or being told I was going to fast (I was going 5mph over an ice patch and still got into a car accident.... but the accident was with a cop. Let's just say their vehicles are monsters). I wasn't getting told I stole my car, or that I was a suspicious person. It was a simple "Your head light is out, here's where you can get it fixed, and a fix it ticket. Also why are you doing all of that?" It sucked getting my first ever ticket, but I went home smiling because for the first time ever, I felt safe. THAT is what I think white privilege feels like. Feeling like you can come home after getting pulled over. I also stopped getting followed around in store, and getting called a shop lifter every time I readjusted my purse. I didn't get second glances at all in the makeup section in Walmart or the candy isle in Smith's. Maybe that's not white privilege, but to me it was little things like those experiences that made me realize people don't see my skin or know who I am, and that small little detail changed so many things in my life.
I have been asking my mom a lot of questions about what her opinion is about everything as a white woman married to a black man and having mixed children. She told me her fears for us kids and my dad. Her frustration over us having to experience what we had to, and her sadness over how I became scared to admit that I am African American. I was bullied my entire life for it, I was very confused because why would I be bullied over the way I look or because my parents fell in love? I was bullied by both the black community and the white, but I still always reminded myself who I was, and I am a black American woman. I understand that the protests are MORE then just police brutality and it's about our community. We want to feel safe in our own community, because unfortunately we are not. We are turning against each other as humans. But despite all of this sadness and fear, it's also bringing out the best in people. I have been surprised over what I have been seeing, both good and bad. I am proud of my friends and community for sticking up for my family. I am proud of my fiance for helping me see what's going on in this world and educating me (because I honestly didn't know how to feel at first because I respect law enforcement but I'm also terrified of them). I am sad that not all of my family sees it that way, but happy that a majority of my family understands. Anyways I'm just proud of my community.
I know this was a lot to read, if you read all of it or even a small portion, thank you for taking time out of your day to hear my voice. I know not a lot of people read my blogs (or anyone really), so if you made the extra effort, thank you, I really do appreciate it.
So if you didn't know already, these two are basically 85% of my portfolio for couples. Obviously they are a super adorable couple, but they're also my future in laws! Kyle is the younger brother to my amazing fiance Brennan, and Savannah is Kyle's fiance! These two are honestly the reason why I started taking my high school couples more seriously. Before I met them I honestly didn't think high school relationships lasted or even mattered in the real world, they were bound to break up eventually. I have only met 1 couple close to my age that has made it all through high school and after graduation (they're also pregnant with child #5!). But other then that 1 couple I thought modern day high school sweet hearts was a bunch of bull crap basically. These guys have only been together for about 3 months longer then I have with Brennan. I honestly didn't take them seriously in the first 2 years, because they were young, still in high school, and both still had a bunch of growing to do as individuals. But then over the past year I've watched them go through hardships that are so hard that if I went through them with Brennan, I would honestly be a single woman. I've watched them grow together, and love each other even more then when they first started dating. When I see how Kyle lights up when he talks about her, it honestly reminds me of the way Brennan lights up when he talks about science. And when Savannah starts thinking about Kyle, it's so obvious. Her eyes light up and she starts smiling like the biggest dork you'll ever meet. It took me a long time to realize it, but these guys are obviously meant to be. Thank you for changing my views on modern day high school relationships. Thank you for always being there for me and Brennan and being my very first friends when I moved down here in Utah. I'm so excited to be apart of your family and have you guys as part of my family!