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Artist Statement

This is a critical period in history for the Black community. In recent years, many have been able to transcend racial, cultural and economic boundaries while others have found themselves increasingly confined to the margins of society. Black men are particularly challenged by this paradox. Although a black man is the President of the United States, black men are still severely overrepresented in incarceration and high school dropout rates, and suffer disproportionately from various preventable health risks and as victims of homicide.

Empirical data shows Americans, including Black people, still harbor negative associations with Black males that directly impact their ability to function successfully in this country. Of particular concern are statistics which demonstrate that the over-representation of Black males in the penal system and the disciplinary processes in schools does not correlate to their behavior. In reality, Black males are not more violent, more criminal, or more disruptive than their White male peers. The good news is that a meta-analysis of the social science research shows that there are effective means of overcoming our negative bias about Black males. One of which, is being exposed to more complex, multi-faceted, and whole images and narratives of black males. This is what the Question Bridge project hopes to accomplish.

“It is a peculiar sensation, this double-consciousness, this sense of always looking at one's self through the eyes of others, of measuring one's soul by the tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity. One ever feels his twoness, — an American, a Negro; two warring souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder.” - W.E.B. Dubois

Question Bridge: Black Males opens a window onto the complex and often unspoken dialogue among Black men, creating an intimate and essentially genuine experience for viewers and subjects, while providing new opportunities for understanding and healing. This project brings the full spectrum of what it means to be “black” and “male” in America to the forefront. “Blackness” ceases to be a simple, monochromatic concept.

By creating an identity container (e.g. “Black” and “Male”), then creating a way of releasing the diversity of identities and thought within that container, we can break the container. Question Bridge strives to make it more difficult to say, “Black Males are___.”

“The history of the American Negro is the history of this strife, — this longing to attain self-conscious manhood, to merge his double self into a better and truer self.” - W.E.B. Dubois

If we succeed in deconstructing stereotypes about arguably the most opaque and feared demographic in America, then the Question Bridge model can work to overcome limiting assumptions about any demographic.

“Believe in life! Always human beings will live and progress to greater, broader, and fuller life.” - W.E.B. DuBois