Black is Black

By Eric Michael Ward

Skin, in its simplest description, is simply the outer covering of our bodies. It seems so miniscule when defined as such, right? But let's dig a little deeper. Physically, skin serves as a barrier to matter that shouldn't reach inside of us, while architecturally skin serves as the walls of our temple that protects everything sacred inside. Mentally, we've seen skin be contorted into some pseudo-measure of success. For example, the lighter you are, the more successful you are, and tragically even, the more successful you will be. Consider the ongoing joke of a black man marrying a white woman as the ultimate stamp of, "bro you made it" ideology. Success? Eh.

We even witness our worth being ascribed to us based on our skin. The darker we are, the lower we are as a human being, or we aren't even viewed as human at all. What a paradigm, right? How dangerous would our world be if it actually operated under such a brutal law? Well, the answer is around us. But I've learned that there is much more to our skin. With a simple observation of our skin, we can see family; we can see nativity; we can see: LOVE. Our skin, rich in melanin, symbolizes success. Our skin symbolizes worth. Civilization. Arithmetic. Science. Faith. Origin. Our skin embodies strength. Perseverance. Life. Why else would our skin shine with the sun? I say it's time we shift the popular paradigm. How amazing would our world be if we praised melanin, instead of demonizing it?

PHOTO: ERIC MICHAEL WARD

PHOTO: ERIC MICHAEL WARD

About Eric Michael Ward Who knew that taking all of those family pictures during road trips and recording everything that caught my eye would start to pay off someday? God knew. Did my dad know that introducing me to Spike Lee Joints at an early age would foster and affirm my love for the black aesthetic? Did my mom realize that introducing me to Alfred Hitchcock films would enhance my already annoying habit of innovating and thinking outside of the box? Although my early childhood dreams of becoming a movie director never came true, God has still used my gift to see in other mediums. Photography is that perfect avenue for someone who is tired of talking, and yet wants everyone to listen. As a writer, photography is what allows me to see the world and communicate in ways that I usually could not. Inspired mostly from the students I teach as an high school English teacher, the gospel and hip hop and jazz and soul music my ears have known since I was a young boy, and the simple yet complex species we simply call, “people,” I am elated to be a black artist and thankful to be created to create.