Today’s blog post has less to do about photography and more to do about being human. We’ll get back to love stories next week, but today we’re taking the time to celebrate Black History Month. I remember celebrating Black History Month in school but honestly haven’t participated much since then. This year I’m feeling the need to! Between everything that is dividing people in the US, I’m drawn to learn about people who have lived different experiences than me–like a fish is drawn to water.
Being a photographer, I am a very visual learner. I learn best by seeing and reading, and I often have a hard time not feeling like I am actually experiencing whatever I see. Yes, I am a super feeler, and that is why I tear up at EVERY wedding I’m at (#embarrassingbuttrue).
In the book Untamed, Glennon Doyle relates the fight against racism to the fight against misogyny. This comparison caused a lightbulb to go off in my head because it’s true! I grew up in a predominantly white town and went to a predominantly white college. Both racism and misogyny were part of my upbringing, even if unintentionally.
“We are not going to get the racism out of us until we start thinking about racism as we think about misogyny. Until we consider racism as not just a personal moral failing but as the air, we’ve been breathing…
The fact that the programmed poison of racism was pumped into us may not be our fault, but getting it out is sure as hell our responsibility.”
~ Glennon Doyle
This month, and for the rest of my life, I want to pump racism out of me. I want to see, learn, feel stories from Black voices. Please join me this month by honoring Black stories written by Black authors. Here are the books I’ll be reading this month, and I’d love for you to read along with me:
The Vignes twin sisters will always be identical. But after growing up together in a small, southern black community and running away at age sixteen, it’s not just the shape of their daily lives that is different as adults, it’s everything: their families, their communities, their racial identities. Many years later, one sister lives with her black daughter in the same southern town she once tried to escape. The other secretly passes for white, and her white husband knows nothing of her past. Still, even separated by so many miles and just as many lies, the fates of the twins remain intertwined. What will happen to the next generation, when their own daughters’ storylines intersect? Weaving together multiple strands and generations of this family, from the Deep South to California, from the 1950s to the 1990s, Brit Bennett produces a story that is at once a riveting, emotional family story and a brilliant exploration of the American history of passing.
2. This Is My America by Kim Johnson
Every week, seventeen-year-old Tracy Beaumont writes letters to Innocence X, asking the organization to help her father, an innocent Black man on death row. After seven years, Tracy is running out of time—her dad has only 267 days left. Then the unthinkable happens. The police arrive in the night, and Tracy’s older brother, Jamal, goes from being a bright, promising track star to a “thug” on the run, accused of killing a white girl. Determined to save her brother, Tracy investigates what really happened between Jamal and Angela down at the Pike. But will Tracy and her family survive the uncovering of the skeletons of their Texas town’s racist history that still haunt the present?
Essays. Smart, humorous, and strikingly original thoughts on race, beauty, money, and more—by one of today’s most intrepid public intellectuals
I also want to add on The Kindest Lie by Nancy Johnson (Which also happens to be February’s pick for Book of the Month! Have you all heard of Book of the Month?!? #loveit)
Last by not least, I need to add The Hate You Give by Angie Thomas as a recommendation, if you haven’t read it yet. I listed to The Hate You Give while moving to Fort Collins from Washington state and it MOTIVATED ME. I was 8 weeks pregnant, extremely nauseous, overwhelmingly exhausted, emotional, and driving a U-haul by myself (while my husband drove our car). Listening to Starr’s story gave me life! I laughed, cried, and was reminded about what is really important in this short life. The Hate You Give is eye-opening while creating empathy, and it will always have a special place in my heart. Can’t recommend it enough.
How are you celebrating Black History Month? Let’s do more. Want to borrow any of these books? I’m happy to share and look forward to a future where we learn and work together.
Because it can’t be said enough, Hillary Shedd Photography wholeheartedly denounces white supremacy, supports science and believes that love comes in all forms. Here’s to 2021!