This is Erika with a "k." I saw her on my way out of Centaur and she was nice enough to let me snap a few frames. She hesitate at first saying that she wasn't photogenic and I told her to pipedown and let me be the judge of that.
No, I didn't really say that. I told her that alot of the people I've photographed have said the same thing and they ended up making some of the most photogenic portraits of the series in my opinion.
She was meeting a friend who walked up after we were done. I showed him a few of the shots and he seemed to think she was photogenic. They then went on their way.
A couple of days later, later this day, or a few days before (I have juvenile alzhiemers. It's all a blur to me), I was in Starbucks editing photos when in walked a trio of hip and happening twentysomethings. They were in town for the United States Social Forum conference that was taking place in the city that week.
Using the Power of Stereotypes I looked at how they were dressed and figured they might appreciate The People of Detroit. I excused myself and passed them a couple of my premium quality flier/business cards which are hand cut and printed on 100% fair trade office copy paper.
I spoke primarily with only one of the three: a deep-brown young woman with alluvial, tightly-twisted locks and a white linen dress that recalled the wardrobe of the Gullah women in the movie Daughters of the Dusk.
I explained the project to her. She grabbed her friend's smart phone, punched in the URL and inspected the site's first page.
"I like your photos, but why aren't there more women?"
Her question kinda made me think of the scene from Do The Right Thing where my man asks ole boy why there aren't any brothers on the wall.
Since the blog only loads 10 photos at a time, she had seen the first 10 photos and took that as representative of the entire project.
"Uh, I mean, I think I have a pretty fair number of women... I haven't really been keeping count, though."
"I see. Do you consider yourself a feminist?"
I explained that I don't think of myself as any kind of "ist." Reason being, when you identify as an -ist, you tend to deny, overlook, or excuse information that disfavorably reflects on the group that your -ist represents.
Humans are prone to be biased toward the group to which they belong. By dissociating from any type of group-specific -ist or -ism, I hope to attenuate this built-in bias.
This dissociation leads people to accuse me of hating - or not loving enough - one group or another. For example, I'm black but I would never say "I love black people." I don't have any global preferences for any group of people. Some black people are cool, some black people are profoundly fucked-up. The same is true of any group of people.
That said, I appreciate that that kind of group-centric love often arises as a response to hatred and persecution from a larger, dominant group. Nonetheless, I believe it is counterproductive to innoculate ourselves against one kind of of centrism by subscribing to a centrism of our own. Ultimately, all centrisms deaden the ability to perceive reality truthfully.
And truth is all I am interested in.
There is one "-ist" I think I would be comfortable with. I think I would be comfortably calling myself a secular humanist, but then cats and dogs and squirrels would probably call me a racist, and shit...
(*For anyone keeping count, this is my fourth consecutive portrait of a female. If you count little girls with their daddies, this makes for the seventh consecutive photo. And that's the truth!)