I was asked one month ago by my mom if I’d create a logo for a photography program she was involved with. In actuality, this was the second time she asked, the first time was something like 2 years ago, for a project called Feel Like Going On, which focused on capturing the black community in Pittsburgh. The new logo was for a program called Still Feel Like Going On, which had a similar mission, but is actually a photography camp for young black men each of whom had professional mentors, of which my mother was one. So, I did both logos (2 years apart), the new one using a new image but otherwise maintaining a similar feel to the first one, at least text-wise. I did try to do a reasonable amount of research both times to try and make sure what I created represented the program well, but never really gave it much attention otherwise.
I got a check (Yay for getting paid for freelance art), and was all set to forget about it later as it didn’t really take very much of my time, but was invited to attend the exhibition celebrating the program’s completion. Seemed like the sort of thing I should attend so I agreed to go. What clicked for me when I got there, was that this program was about showing, with pictures/in the media (Feel Like Going On is hosted within the Pittsburgh Post Gazette’s website) the positive face of the black community. While it wasn’t exclusive to black men, there was a definite focus on black men as successful and positive role models. In fact, in the exhibition, many of the young men, when asked to shoot images of people they look up to, shot images of their fathers, which when paying attention, means a lot for me, - and virtually every other attendee to see.
There are things I take for granted in my life. For example, my family, that I have two loving parents, both successful in their careers (teacher and accountant), who raised three kids, each of whom grew to adulthood with college degrees. I took it as a sign of normalcy. That’s what was supposed to happen, right? That’s not to say I think everyone needs to go to college or that every household should have two parents, but that we’ve been fairly fortunate (which we, and *I* especially, have) is something I always just kinda took as how life was supposed to go. But as we all know, it doesn’t go so well for everyone.
Looking at what’s been happening in Ferguson, MO, by contrast, I developed a very personal connection and appreciation for what Still Feel Like Going On was all about. These young men are given an opportunity they may have never gotten otherwise, to learn from professionals in a craft they’re interested in, and could build a career out of, and will likely dedicate some part of their future to ensuring that the only images of themselves people see aren’t the kind that some mainstream news outlets would use to discredit their humanity. Sadly, that’s something they may need to defend against. But what I saw that day at the celebration was a hope for a future where at the very least, there is a wealth of positive imagery to counter the ‘thug-ish’ portrayal black men tend to get in our culture. It’s but a small step in the right direction, but it meant a lot to me, so I thought I’d share.
(All of the photos above came from the Feel Like Going On blog: http://communityvoices.post-gazette.com/opinion/feel-like-going-on
The logo below the photos is the one I created for the program. The original can be seen at the post gazette link above, as well as a picture of my mom :)