It’s not a secret that way too often Black boys and men are overwhelmingly perceived as a “threat,” “menace,” “criminal” or “thug.” But one photographer, Bryon Summers, wants to change the way the world reads brothas by capturing their humanity with his new “WE LOVE YOU” project.
The photo campaign, which launched on July 27, so far includes 165 beautiful, engaging and friendly portraits of boys and men of African-descent, ranging in age, skin color, height and weight. It is truly representative of the diversity of Black men in America.
“Images are so powerful and the more positive images we have to reinforce that Black men are human and loving, the more open up people will be to changing their negative beliefs about us,” Summers told BET.com.
For Summers, who has been taking pictures since he was 14, he was inspired to create WE LOVE YOU based on the numerous instance of injustice he’s witnessed.
“On one hand, we see what happened to Philando [Castile]. We see cops getting off or not being indicted in the Freddie Gray case. And then there is the media and the images that they choose to portray Black men in a negative light, to demonize and stereotype us,” said the 30-year-old.
“But by taking these photos and sharing them on social media, we get to decide what is newsworthy, what’s our truth. And it may be cliché, but photos really do last forever. They can last longer than any statement,” he added.
Summers believes that during these tumultuous times, using his camera is the best way for him to protest and inspire change. “I felt that my voice was more powerful in my images. I may not go out to the local march, but this is how I contribute, this is how I make a statement,” he stressed.
The response so far has been immensely positive.
“It’s made me feel like I was doing the right thing. I knew when I shared the idea with a few people, it was already bigger than myself, because it’s not about me, it’s about us, taking back our story,” he emphasized.
And while NYC was his first stop, Summers plans on expanding his project to other cities, including Washington, D.C.; Norfolk, Virginia; Atlanta; Richmond, Virginia; and Baltimore.
“We’re getting so many messages from people all over the country who want to participate. I would love to go wherever the project takes me,” he concluded.
Peep this behind-the-scenes video of the shoot in New York City:
Learn more about the WE LOVE YOU project here.
(Photos: Bryon Summers, Video: Kevin Spence)
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