solo work / October 2020
written October, 2022
i shaved my head for the first time in my life in october 12, 2020. hair always seems to carry a lot of emotional weight. for me, my hair (when properly cared for) felt like the clearest, and seemingly only, proof of my dad's genes. and subsequently, any essence of blackness within my identity.
my mother is japanese. my father is carribean-american, with roots in jamaica and trinidad & tobago. ethnically, i'm all of those things (i won't use fractions - i'm a person not a pie). but racially, i grew up as asian, and as of the past few years, i'm experiencing more and more that i'm white to some people too. does that make me white? i don't know right now. neither of my parents are white? all i do know, is that it doesn't feel good to be identified as something that i don't think i am. (check yourself, stone)
but dwelling on the specifics too much doesn't seem all that productive to me either. all that being said, i'm never black.
and to be honest i hate that. i just wanna be what my family is. but to depend on something as fragile and superficial as hair, to affirm something equally as fragile and arbitrarily determined such as race, is not sustainable. i need to be honest about myself, and my skin.
i've found myself before wielding whatever understanding of blackness i have in an attempt to wrongfully center my oppression and bolster my sense of entitlement to a reality that isn't mine. no matter how close in the family tree it may be to me.
my nuance is profound, but my skin at least affords me the pause, the benefit of the doubt, the chance to articulate it. in fact, i sometimes even feel (maybe naively so) autonomy over my outwards identity. that with enough experience and knowledge, i can somehow convince others of what i really am. again, the pause. there lies a heavy responsibility.
it's from that pause i choose to enrich blackness. uphold blackness. defend it with my life. center blackness and let that be where i plant seeds to grow. centering blackness is to know who i am, where i come from, what i stand for, and what my responsibilities are. i want to know myself, so that one day my kids can know themselves too.
to not embrace all of me would be to center whiteness and let be forgotten the history of violence and oppression, both given and received, and also the triumphs and successes. all of which have afforded me this chance. the chance to grow.
to hopefully grow so much, grow so strong, that i can protect my family and my friends. then grow even stronger that i can protect my community. and maybe even stronger still after that.
these photos are an on-going series about growth, about nurturing my identity, and about accountability. accountability to make sure these feelings are put into practice not just in theory, but in my choices, politically, economically, and spiritually.
this is where my thoughts are now, there's nothing that hasn't been said before, but i'm not responsible for them until i express them. if all is going well they should change and evolve with me too.
more work to come.