Young | "Young, Black & Well Dressed" - A Photo Series

photography by ayo B. (@aobyyc)

“Young, Black and Well Dressed” is a photo series and small project that I have been working on since last month. After posting a style collab image on Instagram with the caption “Yong, Black & Well Dressed” that garnered a lot of positive interest and feedback, I decided to explore these three words more in depth. I realized that the positive outpour over both the caption and the image said a lot more about the social climate we find ourselves in today than the actual image or words themselves. Seeing an image of two young, black individuals in fine attire within a predominantly Caucasian city created enough of a shake in the overly negative images of Black people we are constantly fed to create a disruption – a disruption I was all too happy to continue causing.

“Young, Black and Well Dressed” is my way of showing solidarity with the Black Lives Matter, Black Girl Magic and all other pro-Black movements around the globe. It is my way of outwardly expressing the disdain, pain and exasperation I feel on a daily basis when I see my people, the Kings and Queens of history, facing the same prejudices we have been facing since the turn of time. It is clear that I am not alone in this struggle – the countless number of marches, speeches and public upheaval that has flooded nations both near and far speak to humanity’s current state of mind. This photo series is for every black girl who speaks up in her science class and every black boy who decides to learn to play hockey because they are the ones who keep the dream alive. 

Part I of the series, “Young”, is all about perspective. The world can be such a dark place and there is a never-ending stream of negativity blasted at us in various forms. I often find myself retreating within myself, the one place I know I can find solace to make sense of all that is happening. This leaves me feeling isolated without a sense of hope for the future. I age 50 years for every minute I spend watching the news headlines. I walk through life heavily, the weight of the world slowing me down every step of the way.

“Young” is my way of recapturing my youth, finding colour in the darkness and celebrating the fact that we are a pivotal generation. We are the generation that can no longer sit idly by as the injustices of the world happen around us. We are the young bloods who question everything, demand to be heard and fight relentlessly for what we believe in. We have been called entitled and privileged but, to me, that just means we are curious and empathetic, sharing in the collective storm cloud that has rolled through into our world. 

I don’t understand why people fear an individual who is proud of their Black… well maybe I do. It’s because ignorance is no match for resilience and oppression is no match for the human heart. “Young, Black and Well Dressed” is my small way of showing my pride.