Seeing yourself is important. I can remember watching music videos as a child in the age of MTV when Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” video blew my mind. While the world was fascinated by the choreography and costumes, I was fascinated by “the girl” in the video. Alas, she looked like me!! (in my mind). I can do that. The more I was fed images of brown women being boss, beautiful, bold. The more I was empowered.
I want my boys to see themselves too — Especially before they are introduced to the negative stereotypes associated with their race in the media AND before they could become accustomed to being nonexistent in certain forums altogether. It’s one main reason I started @castlesandkings, my newest Instagram account where I take and post commercial and editorial photos of my 2 boys.
Brown boys are grossly underrepresented in fashion mags and advertisements, story books and films particularly for children.
@castlesandkings is an outlet for my sons to be the models of curiosity, adventure, beauty, class, coolness, silliness and laughter, intelligence, intrigue, mystery and mischief they naturally are and that largely goes unseen.
Thanks to social media platforms, I don’t have to wait. I have the vision and means to create and host the images I’d love to see.
I’ve grown up with brown kids being the face of poverty and AIDS in the US and abroad.(Think “We Are the World”.) Unless you were a celebrity of some sort there was little to no coverage of a brown kid simply playing Chess or seeing Spot run or finding an alien in his backyard which he then saves from government forces. No. Our boys and girls were portrayed as fatherless, impoverished, hustlers and pimps in need of saving. This and a few other 1 sided images recycled taught many of us to see ourselves through those lenses although in our communities we knew there was more to tell.
My friends and I alone were models of 1 and 2 parent homes where we ate dinner together as a family, explored our neighborhoods, won spelling bees and kept secrets from our parents just like any other kid across America. However this was rarely represented in the media.
The power of an image goes deep. It reaches to the soul of a person especially a child, and creates a path for the feet to walk.
I recognize the equation.
External is Internalized is Physicalized.
What we see we believe we become.
It’s God’s equation. The God Who gave us our imaginations and encourages us to use it to create images of His beauty, love and power through the hearing of His Word.
When we do, meditate on Him, we become more like Him.
We are also made in God’s image. Now that’s something to get deep down inside of you and to capture. Internalizing that truth alone is transformative.
My sons will see themselves not only as I see them, the media portrays them but also as God sees them.
May all who view @castlesandkings see the heart of a mother, the workmanship of God and some pretty cool kids.
In this collection of images of my oldest son, I see an artist, activist, free thinker. He gave that to me.
I was just there to capture it, to give it back to him and now to share it with you.
What do you see when you see your self, your children?
Want to see more? Follow @castlesandkings on Instagram.
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