ONE AND ALL
People today feel more disconnected than ever, despite social media linking them to a multitude of social platforms. I want to give voice to the disenfranchised, by hearing from everyday Americans who are supplanting the frustrations of feeling left out and find ways to inspire a more honest conversation. If there is not greater effort being made to include those in our country who feel their voice is not valued then we will continue to perpetuate the "them" and "us" mentality.
I believe it starts with greater awareness of who we are as individuals, not limit our thinking to political issues and platforms. I have spent eighteen years traveling back and forth across the US, documenting people from all walks of life. I see the disconnect and feel empathy from so many who are unheard. Having chronicled this history has taught me so much about my identity as an American. It is not enough to protest against war, unjust voting rights, the ongoing battle to preserve women's rights, or the ongoing problem of racism and gun violence. We need to feel more responsible for each other. By exchanging personal stories, highlighting the human perspective, we can discard the status quo, step away from labeling, and risk changing our mind.
Since 2000 I have been recording the pulse of the nation. At first I was interested in creating a visual template of Americans using their First Amendment Rights, to document a political re-awakening. But after 9/11, and our invasion of Iraq I could no longer keep an impartial perspective. I became invested in the lives of the veterans who I had met on the trail; and the impact of unjust war. I attended every major rally, from coast to coast, to support our veterans. I did countless interviews with Gold Star Families. By 2006 the discontent was widespread, until the 2008 candidacy of Barack Obama. The new dawn was rising and I became apart of the grass root movement that energized the crop of young voters, who would make history by electing the first African American president. I was determined to document the "hope". But ironically the excitement was short lived with the discordant efforts of the Tea Party. Apparently our nation is not ready to move beyond bias, and discrimination. This realization altered the course of my project and has since compelled me to steer my work towards understanding why we in America cannot find acceptance. I set out to document and interview members of the Tea Party to try and understand why this extreme platform was able to emerge so successfully. After conducting personal interviews with countless ‘patriots’, I discovered a real fear that white America is being replaced by today’s multi- cultural identity. Racism has always been a stain in our nation’s history and in Trump’s America prejudice is having a field day. And there is a desperation with white seniors to hold on to the past, go back to the good old days when they were the overwhelming majority. Yet out of this static polarity our compassion is re-awakening. Is it possible Trump's ideology has dared Americans to appreciate each other, despite our differences? I question if we can come together, not only as Americans, but as citizens of the world.
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