Equal Portrait # 17 Kat

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Q: What do you identify as?

A: If you had asked me that question a week ago I would've told you that identify as a person with Hispanic and Italian background. When I got pregnant with my first baby they do a lot of blood test turns out I have sickle cell trait . When I got pregnant with my second baby and told all the doctors I got funny looks from each and everyone of them with a "ok sure". They did more blood tests and were like wow I didn't expect that. One of the nurses asked me the same question. Your white right? On the form it says white ( non Hispanic), Hispanic, other, etc. My mother is first gen American so I say no I'm Hispanic and other. She looks me up and down and says I'm just going to put white. I decided to look into my background. I recently completed one of those genetic test to see where I come from, turns out I'm from all over. Italian, Iberian, Irish, 16% native American, Asian, and African. Not like "we are all from Africa but 6th great grand parent is African. They could even tell me they were born between 1810-1700. So I guess to answer the question I now identify as human. Mother, wife, friend. "Other" on paper. 

 

Q: What does being “other” in America mean to you?

A: I'm proud to be mixed race.

I would say I have it pretty easy though because as a person with a mixed background but who looks very white I have not been discriminated against or treated like some of my family has been treated. There's a lot of guilt that goes with that. I'm grateful for who I am and proud of who I am. For me it means I have good genetics to pass on to my kids, and a history I would love to dive into.

 

Q: Last but not least, we all know there is a inequality (be it race, sex, sexual orientation or religion) problem in American... how do you think we should go about solving it if you think it can be solved.

A: I don't think it will ever be completely solved. There will always be hate for something or someone. But I also don't think we should ever stop fighting for it or learning about it. Let's keep it a bay with pumping as much love in to the world as possible. Standing by one another and not keeping quiet. It's up to us to check our peers and teach the youth. Asking "how can I help?" As opposed to "here is what we should do" in some cases. Know when to follow and know when to lead. I don't have all the answers but I am trying to educate myself everyday. Open conversations. Not shy away from things or topics that make me uncomfortable and raise my kids with love for all.

Equal Portrait #16 Ryan

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Q: What do you identify as?

 

A: I identify myself as a human being.

 

Q: What does being a human being in America mean to you?

 

A: I've never given it much thought, really. I was born and raised in the Philippines and immigrated to the US at the age of 12. I recall so much of my childhood experiences there. I grew up in the Philippines mid the Ferdinand Marcos regime. I was too young to really understand the political landscape, but I do remember life wasn't easy. When I put both worlds together, I realize that I am thankful everyday for what I have, from the luxuries, to our liberties and our freedoms. I guess you can say I'm thankful and proud to be where I am today (a naturalized citizen), despite what's going on in the world today.

 

Q: Last but not least, we all know there is a inequality (be it race, sex, sexual orientation or religion) problem in American... how do you think we should go about solving it if you think it can be solved.

 

A: There is no solving hate and ignorance today. There's no magical cure, except education. Educating our kids and teaching them what's right and wrong and to rise above it all.

Equal Portrait #15 Charlene

Q: What do you identify as?

A: Bi-sexual Latina

Q: What does being bi-sexual in America mean to you?

A: I kept my sexuality hidden for so long because I was afraid of what my family and society would think. But yes, being out in public with my partner scared me at times and it made me uncomfortable. But I don't think it's an "American" problem so much as it's a "Humanity" problem. 

Q: Last but not least, we all know there is a inequality (be it race, sex, sexual orientation or religion) problem in American... how do you think we should go about solving it if you think it can be solved.

A: Equality for the LGBT community has taken some major strides in the right direction. But there will always be people who oppose the "lifestyle" because they see it merely as a choice, something that can be changed. Racism will exist through the ages because of people's mindset, it's not something that can simply be changed because you will it or force it, people have to want to change. I don't fear people who don't understand or accept my sexuality. I fear the fear and hate they carry in their hearts because of it. That is why America will continue to be a people divided. So it's not really a question of How do we change it, it's a question of whether or not you can love people in spite of the difference. Some will, some won't. There's no fix for that. 

Equal Portrait #12 Parker

Parker for Equal

Q: What do you identify as?

A: I'm a queer transman

Q: What does being queer transman in America mean to you?

A: being a queer transman in America means I face a lot of discrimination and opposition for simply existing, but unlike living in some other countries, at least I have the option to transition. It's scary watching a vehemently anti-lgbtq presidential administration give power to the voices of so many ignorant and hateful citizens. It's scary seeing, each day, hate crimes not just against gay men, but alas trans women (specifically of color) on the rise. It's depressing and very stressful to be a queer transman in America right now. I don't have a lot of legal protections that other minorities do. I could legally be fired or evicted on the basis of my identity, not to mention all of the constant bombardment of hate speech..

q: we all know there is a sexual orientation inequality problem in American... how do you think we should go about solving it?

a: America's issue of inequality when it comes to sexuality can only be solved through education, activism, and time, and that's the only way I believe we'll be able to address racism, homophobia, transphobia, sexism, and other social inequalities. Living out loud, for those of us who aren't straight, and for allies to be publically and loudly supportive. Rallies, protests, calling our elected representatives and voting. Our allies have the most power to help change our country and it is their voices that homophobes are more likely to listen to, not ours.

q: What does religion mean to you?

a: Religion really doesn't mean much to me personally, as an athiest. I was raised very conservatively Christian, almost in a cult, but I never really connected with any of it. My participation was due to the social pressure of fitting in and needing to please others. Once I got out I was able to explore other concepts and was able to look at religion analytically and with an open mind and I completely get why some people, like my mom, are religious. They need to be told how to think and act to function in this big scary world. I'm just not like that. There are a lot of people who aren't religious, but also believe in one or multiple gods. That's also not me at all, I haven't experienced the world that way at all. There is no proof in existance to make me question if there is a god. For me, it's not a question of "why I don't believe in a god" it's a question of "why do you believe in a god". Had every person on this planet been raised without religion and without being told to believe in a god I would be the one asking a logical question, but instead religion and God have become such a huge part of societies and cultures that my question seems the weird one. Why would I believe in something that I've never once believed existed for myself?

I was taught to believe in him, but you can't teach a belief, you can only condition and brainwash. There is nothing in this world, nothing in my life experience or the experiences of any others that leaves me questioning if there is a god. As a queer transman, religion is an enemy because the majority of religions teach the individual to repress their humanity, their realness, their uniqueness. Religion really fucked me up and even worse, it's kept my parents from being able to help me and get me the help I needed as I was beginning to form my self identity in middle and high school. As an adult, religion has kept family from living and accepting me. Religion is why we have homophobia and transphobia. Religion is why trans and gay people get murdered. Not in the "in killing you for God" sense but because discrimination is preached from the pulpit, and church is also a society. When you want to belong in a culture you get heavily invested in the values and beliefs of the culture and that breeds ignorance.

Phace #8 Adolf

Bronica SQAi / Tri-x 400

Bronica SQAi / Tri-x 400

Q: What do you identify as? A: Hispanic

Q: What does being Hispanic in America mean to you?
A: It means carrying on the culture of being brought up Hispanic to my kids from what I learned growing up in my own household, basically family is everything.

Q: Last but not least, if you think there is a racial inequality problem in American... how do you think we should go about solving it?
A: Talking it out with not only leaders but the everyday people.

Phace #7 Soula

Q: What do you identify as?:

A: I identify as a white cisgender woman, first generation American born to Greek Cypriot parents.

Q: What does being a white greek mean to you, being in America?

A: For me, being white in America means confronting and taking responsibility for the uncomfortable and painful truth that my whiteness gives me innumerable privileges at the expense of people of color. For me, being white means being in an ongoing dialogue about how to shift, transform, and heal from generations of systemic inequality and oppression. It means informing the decisions I make with a critical mind, knowing that my decisions can perpetuate or transform systemic racism. Those decisions - those opportunities to engage or not - come up everyday and my white privilege makes it such that I could go on each day without giving attention to the reality of racial inequality.

That is at the core of white privilege - that I can choose whether or not to engage, that my life will not be endangered if I do not engage the reality of racial inequality, that I can survive and thrive without ever acknowledging that my black and brown brothers and sisters are facing racist violence in every manifestation (psychological, emotional, physical, structural, etc.) everyday. I have been thinking a lot about how white folks do or do not enter the conversation and the work addressing the ongoing violence - vigilante or uniformed - enacted upon black and brown people in America. I have heard many express that they will not have these conversations or enter the work if the space feels "unsafe." But this is just another manifestation of white privilege and entitlement, the entitlement to not feeling "icky." There is a significant difference between a conversation being difficult and uncomfortable and it being "unsafe." "Unsafe" is being unable to move through the world freely.

Lack of safety is the inability to simply be without the possibility of violence being enacted upon your being. "Unsafe" is the generational psychological and spiritual trauma that unchecked racist violence has created and perpetuated. For me, being white in America is being in constant dialogue with these realities, and moving forward to shift power and transform inequity. Many times it means stepping back. By stepping back, I do not mean being passive; white folks need to engage not only in word but in action. When I say "sitting back," I mean looking to the leadership of black and brown folk as to how we engage the radical transformations that need to happen, and how we envision what these look like. It is work we need to do together however I do think that I, a white person, need to step back and listen to and be guided by the experiences and vision of black and brown folk as to how all of this can and should transform.

So often, well-meaning white folks engage in these issues in a way that actually perpetuates inequality by positing themselves in leadership positions to the exclusion of people of color. This is a huge problem. White folk are so used to being the center of privilege that they are unaccustomed to stepping back, learning, listening, and being in service to/in solidarity with movements lead by black and brown folk. Being white means working to encourage my white peers to critically engage these issues. Being white and being aware of and wanting to transform racial inequality means being open to the many times I will be wrong and make mistakes in the process; it means always being open to reflecting and revisioning how I engage, based on the feedback I get especially from my black and brown peers. It means being prepared to own that I may at times, unintentionally, perpetuate the problem even when my motivation is to transform it.

Q: Last but not least, if you think there is racial inequality what do you think that needs to be done to rid our nation of it?

A: There is so much that needs to be done and to give it all adequate attention would take pages and pages. Here, though, I'll focus on one important piece of what needs to happen: White people need to take responsibility: white folk built the structures and systems of racial inequality, and white folk are at the center of power in maintaining those systems. White folk built it and white folk need to deconstruct it. Let me be extremely clear though: this is NOT a white savior situation. I am not suggesting the racist and ongoing myth of the all powerful white savior.

No. What I am saying is that white folk have some hard work to do in taking responsibility for the ugly power we still maintain creating and perpetuating racist inequality. We need to look at our collective self in the mirror, we need to acknowledge the insidious poison of racism and white supremacy, and we need to take responsibility to dismantle it. All of this needs to happen in service to a vision that is lead by and informed by black and brown folk. We need to deeply listen to black and brown folk to understand how to be in solidarity in a movement toward racial equality. The conversations, the work, is difficult. White folk: please do not confuse the difficulty and discomfort (these you will inevitably confront if you engage this very important work) with lack of safety.

Stick with the work...stick with the conversation. Shutting it down at the first feelings of discomfort perpetuates the racist systems that have created bubbles of privilege around white folk in the first place. We need intersectionality too: we need to move in this work with an understanding that power is fluid; that some parts of our identity give us power and others do not but none of this changes the reality that systemic racism and racial inequality are real. Our responsibility in engaging movements for racial equality is not relieved because we experience oppression through some other facet of our identity. It could be too that an intersectional awareness can generate the kind of compassion and understanding that will be necessary to get otherwise uninvolved white folk committed to movements for racial equality. Finally we need healing, all of us.

A healing that is fierce, and that begins first with fully acknowledging the ways we've harmed/harm/been harmed, and the ways some of us benefit from those harms.

Phace #6 Jon- Michael

What do you identify as? 
American. My nationality is Mexican American *

What does being Mexican American in America mean to you? 
I would say being Mexican American in America can go both ways depending on who you ask really, but as a race we are thriving and growing faster than ever. I keep reading reports on Latino growth and by 2020 we will make up almost 40% of the US population, that’s huge. *

Do you think there is a racial inequality problem in America? How do you think we should go about solving it? 
Without question there’s an inequality problem in America. We live in a time where everything is being recorded and streamed online; inequality for race, sexual orientation, and gender are now being put at the fore front of how human beings are really being treated around the nation. We’re holding those with power accountable for these injustices and there is nothing really being done to protect innocent people being engulfed by a system that was created to “protect” us. 
My dad was once the Vice President for a Local Union here in San Antonio; he taught us very young to be proud of our people and protect those who were unable to do so for themselves. We were taught to love everyone regardless of color, gender, or whatever part of the world they came from. 
Change starts with our youth. The future is just as important as the present, we need more people working towards programs either in school or after school programs that highlight the idea of the “Equality” really looks like. 
Things like hashtags and changing your photo to show support does bring awareness but it won’t make things actually change. We need to assemble with a leader whose voice carries honor and merit for positive non-violent change, a Cesar Chavez or Martin Luther King JR if you will.

Phace #4 Debra

What does being Black in America mean to you? I am descendent from Africans who were brought over here unwillingly, made slaves,  beaten, hung, castrated, tarred and feathered, raped-both men, women and children. Sold away from families like dogs, called names and treated like sub-human. Etc, etc, etc. I just happened to be born in AmeriKKKa. If you think racial inequality exist what do you think we can do about it? Sonny, I'm sorry to say I don't think it can be fixed. It's been going on since slavery and nothing has changed or gotten any better. Yes, blacks can vote, eat in white folks resturants, drink out of white folks fountains, work beside whitefolks who don't really want us there. Martin Luther king couldn't change much, he was murdered because he wanted everyone to be equal,  Malcolm X fought for equal rights, murdered because that's not what the white folks wanted. Medgar Evers murdered for the very same reason, equal rights for all. The KKK, the Skinheads and all other anti-black groups have been around forever and as long as their hatred for non- white race's exist, then racism will exist. You can try to educate and talk to the racist but to no avail. Hatred for minorities has been around since the beginning of time. It can't be fixed unless we can get rid of the racial, hateful anti-black, evil, dangerous hate groups, racism will be around until the end of time. White Supremacy is what they want. Other races are beneath them. I just don't see it in the future. This is 2016, we have a black POTUS, for the last 7 1/2 years he and his family has been so ridiculed, disrespected, talked about, called a monkey and other worst names by racist, evil people. If they don't respect the head of our country, they surely won't respect us common folks. Trying to stop racism is a lost cause. That's just my opinion.
What does being Black in America mean to you?

I am descendent from Africans who were brought over here unwillingly, made slaves,  beaten, hung, castrated, tarred and feathered, raped-both men, women and children. Sold away from families like dogs, called names and treated like sub-human. Etc, etc, etc. I just happened to be born in AmeriKKKa.

If you think racial inequality exist what do you think we can do about it?

Sonny, I'm sorry to say I don't think it can be fixed. It's been going on since slavery and nothing has changed or gotten any better. Yes, blacks can vote, eat in white folks resturants, drink out of white folks fountains, work beside whitefolks who don't really want us there.

Martin Luther king couldn't change much, he was murdered because he wanted everyone to be equal,  Malcolm X fought for equal rights, murdered because that's not what the white folks wanted. Medgar Evers murdered for the very same reason, equal rights for all. The KKK, the Skinheads and all other anti-black groups have been around forever and as long as their hatred for non- white race's exist, then racism will exist.

You can try to educate and talk to the racist but to no avail. Hatred for minorities has been around since the beginning of time. It can't be fixed unless we can get rid of the racial, hateful anti-black, evil, dangerous hate groups, racism will be around until the end of time. White Supremacy is what they want. Other races are beneath them. I just don't see it in the future.

This is 2016, we have a black POTUS, for the last 7 1/2 years he and his family has been so ridiculed, disrespected, talked about, called a monkey and other worst names by racist, evil people. If they don't respect the head of our country, they surely won't respect us common folks. Trying to stop racism is a lost cause. That's just my opinion.

Phace #2 Deborah

Deborah is the aunt of Marquis Jones, Marquis was shot in the back while fleeing by SAPD on Feb 28th 2014. What do you identify as? Black What does being black in America mean to you? It means pride. As of late, it means to be afraid.  Last but not least, if you think there is a racial inequality problem in American... how do you think we should go about solving it? Educate. There is a problem in all races, but for blacks, it is amplified, and put under a microscope with everything that we do. People need to understand we are not the enemy.

Deborah is the aunt of Marquis Jones, Marquis was shot in the back while fleeing by SAPD on Feb 28th 2014.

What do you identify as? Black

What does being black in America mean to you? It means pride. As of late, it means to be afraid. 

Last but not least, if you think there is a racial inequality problem in American... how do you think we should go about solving it? Educate. There is a problem in all races, but for blacks, it is amplified, and put under a microscope with everything that we do. People need to understand we are not the enemy.

Phace #1 Jasmine

What do you identify as? I'm African American What does being African American in America mean to you? That my ancestors from Africa were slaves and brought here and stripped of their culture names and identity so I really have no clue who I am I just know I'm black in America so I'm African American. Black people are the only people who have no inkling of their ancestors or where they come from and I think it has a lot to do with how we are now. ‪

What do you identify as? I'm African American

What does being African American in America mean to you? That my ancestors from Africa were slaves and brought here and stripped of their culture names and identity so I really have no clue who I am I just know I'm black in America so I'm African American. Black people are the only people who have no inkling of their ancestors or where they come from and I think it has a lot to do with how we are now.