ruddyroye ruddyroye

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Humanist/Agency VII Photog  National Geographic, TIME and New York Times Contributor. Fujifilm X-Photographer.

June 17, 2018
We Are Present (The Outtakes)

Ruddy Roye’s photographs capture the “disparate range of relationships between fathers and sons.” They reflect a seismic shift in domestic arrangements as the reality (and precarious nature) of work has, in many ways, upended traditional gender roles. “Because of the nature of their jobs, black men find themselves playing a major role in their sons lives.  They are not just breadwinners. They are nurturers too,” Roye said.
But the persistence of the stereotype of black fathers sheds light on the context within which we must raise our children—especially our sons. They will grow up and we must raise them in a world that has a host of assumptions about who they are and what they are capable of. As if raising children isn’t hard enough, we have to do so with the added burden of preparing them for a racist world. That fact alone often interrupts intimacies. It can make private, black spaces hard and, sometimes, appear unloving.
One photograph shows a Sheriff from Jackson, Mississippi with his son in a jail cell.  This father decided that words were not enough. He “had to show him the lessons he was trying to teach him.” He took his son to the morgue to see a bullet-ridden corpse, to the scene of a DUI accident, to the jailhouse—all to teach him the dangers of Jackson.
We comfort our sons when their hearts are broken.  Encourage them after a crushing defeat. Criticize their lack of effort.  Prod them to do better in school.  We are constantly urging them to dream big and that, if they are going to achieve their dreams, we tell them they will have to be twice as good and work twice as hard as everyone else,” extract from an article by Eddie S Glaude in a piece in this current @time magazine issue.
This story is not about exclusion, but a welcoming of a narrative that is either lost or ignored.
Thank you @time for allowing me the opportunity to tell this story.
#whenlivingisaprotest #onassignment #timemagazine #fujifilmgfx50s @time @fujifilmx_us

June 14, 2018
Sojourn

The gratitude I feel comes with a pinch of sweetness and a spoonful of reality. Life is not easy for some.
I just returned to New York from photographing a TIME Magazine assignment in five cities.
It is never what I think it is going to be. Maybe it is why I don’t have assignment dreams anymore.
Either the people you schedule to photograph suddenly have something to do, there was a shooting, so people decided to stay in, the space is too tight, there isn’t much light, or the rain is falling and so the shoot is a bust. Whatever the reasons, I guarantee you that anything that can go wrong will go wrong - I didn’t say it.
With the tight schedule I had, I didn’t roam the streets. In fact I stayed close to the hotel except for when I had to jump into an Uber and race to the shoot.
I struggled in Baltimore to find people for my assignment. One woman said, “it is going to be challenge to find that here.”
Oakland roared up to the front line as if possessed by the spirit of a panther. People came forward ready.
Jackson Mississippi unveiled the forgiving hearts of its residents and showed off its sultry nightlife.
Chicago sacrificed two lives before I landed and changed my entire plan.
Louisville and Charles Town whispered cautiously about it’s past, like petrified ghosts wafting down black alleyways. They offered up stories no one wants to talk about anymore.
Each city branded me with its own unique story - unpacking similar faces for me to encounter as I walked the sidewalks. My takeaway? You can’t assume to know a place because it is a “red state,” it is in the South, or because the news reported that it had the highest crime rates in the country. You have to sit, order a sweet tea, and decide to stay a while to hear the tiny voice beating off the boarded up buildings and the newly renovated condos both reflecting the contentious struggles of each city.
If you sip slow enough, you will eventually hear it, the undertones of a beleaguered city. Listen - you will hear, “We are still here.”
Abstract from the assignment will be on the newsstands this weekend @time
#whenlivingisaprotest
#fujifilmx100f @fujifilmx_us

June 4 2018
Oakanda
This is not Oakland.
Let me be clear about that. These are merely snap shots - images I shot while walking from one Marriott to the right one on 9th street.
These are images I shot when I crossed Broadway in the bright California light. These are images I shot while sitting on a hydrant waiting to connect with the people I needed to photograph for my assignment while here.
I photographed Glenn who spent almost 18 years in prison. I photographed a man smoking crack at a bus stop, and an obnoxious man under a blanket in a wheel chair. I also photographed two very high young men who asked me to call a relative for them. I walked behind an attractive old man with a spotless white hat while his very dirty white jacket moved on his bony frame like a quilt barely held together by rotting threads. I photographed him as he walked by a young man laying on the side of the road, trying to shake his high. All these images while Steph Curry peered down like a god from Olympus - on a man sitting on the side of the road, and on the broken faces of a city perched on the brink ready of change.
#whenlivingisaprotest #oaklandportraits #oaklandportrait #fujifilmx100f @fujifilmx_us

May 27, 2018
If Walls could Speak

One of those days when you leave the camera and decided to try out this new app I have on my smart phone.
Remembering my beginnings on this journey. Five to six years ago armed with only my cell phone, I jumped on this platform with the idea of photographing my neighbourhood of Bedstuy.
These images remind of my humble beginnings, far from the more complicated contextual choices I now use to define my social media presence.
There are two faces here that I photographed over a decade ago while I was still photographing with film. I was almost speechless, reacquainting myself with their faces. Faces I haven’t seen in so long, faces showing their years, with their skin barely hanging on to their aging bones.
And then there are new faces. Copper toned hues wrapped tightly around young bones. The fashion statements are the same, the attitudes and intents seem different.
I keep watching. Like graffiti I superimpose them against brownstones, as if I am tagging Brooklyn with these chocolate faces.
I keep looking, searching for pieces of me in all these images.
#whenlivingisaprotest

May 19, 2018

In Plain Sight -
Lives bowed towards earth
like fallen stars,
streak and litter street sides
like dust balls.
Bodies rolled up like fetuses
on grey cold grounds,
their warmth,
marking the concrete like dried carcasses.
I search for a face,
looking for any semblance
of their history.
I listen to their stories;
old tattered hymns now muted
within their hollowed souls.
But they are there.
Singing , smiling, shouting -
In Plain Sight.
Each day,
they sing to a passing soul,
riffing on rotted necks,
their finger boards shaky,
now impossible to hold a key much less find the answers to fill their empty stomachs.
And everyday,
they look to dismissive eyes.
Nature and my lens
refuse to forget them.
Their ancestors reach out
with words, songs and imagery on their behalf,
plastering signs for us
on cold colourful wall papers - In Plain Sight.
#whenlivingisaprotest #fujifilmxt2 #fujifilmx100f @fujifilmx_us #ruddypoem

April 29, 2018
Kerry’s Blues

I often enjoy my trips to rural America because of its colour, a lot of pun intended. There isn’t just one thing. It is the colour of yellow weeds, the stance of the ancient trees, the cracklings of an overused bridge, the sound of the cold breeze amplifying the voices of our choked ancestors. I sift through the music I listen to here. I prefer to look into a clear sky for inspiration. The Delta, with its massive muddy waters reflect its skies in the drawl, accent, songs and stories of its people.
“In rural America, the powerful white institution isn't an institution- it is a friend and a neighbor. I grew up in southeast Missouri; acres of delta farmland.
My grandfather was a farm laborer born in Luka Mississippi. He had very limited education. My grandmother, a native Missourian had more access to education and saw great value in it. She continued to educate herself daily until death. My mother and I shared their household for most of my formative years. I embraced my grandmother’s set of ideals.
In doing so, unbeknownst to me, I created a space for myself. I thrived in the performing arts. Everyone likes a smiley kid who can sing and dance and hasn't any opinions.
Living in the aforementioned proximity doesn't necessarily make one privy to the conversations of the "other side", not the candid ones. But access to more social interaction does. I would venture to say that especially standing in a room of urban black Americans, I am one of the few who has ever heard a white person say the word "nigger" from his guts! Saying it and meaning it. Using it in context to describe that foreign species of human like creature who prepared his meals, nursed his children, cleaned his house, manicured his yard.
The urban black is removed from this. He can't see it so closely. He also can't see all the goodness that creates a sense of conflict. A certain "Stockholm"-like feeling. Almost like an abusive relationship.
I think of the lyrics of "My Man": "I don't know why I should,
He isn't true,
He beats me too..
What can I do?
My man is "the man". “ - Kerry.
#whenlivingisaprotest #fujifilmgfx50s #cairo @fujifilmx_us @kerry_davis33

Photo by @ruddyroye // Captured #withgalaxy S9, produced with @samsungmobileusa // Brooklynite photographer Wyatt Gallery and his new bride, fashion designer Anya Ayoung Chee, spend a sunny Saturday shopping for their new apartment. “Of course there is a mix of excitement and nervousness, or uncertainty. But overall it feels like this new journey was chosen for us by a higher power and is a true blessing. Maktub,” Wyatt said. I caught up with both of them while shopping in the Red Hook section of Brooklyn. “We just got married in January, in Trinidad, and just moved into a new apartment. Everything is new, and there is a lot happening all at the same time.”

April 17, 2018
Reflections

Anita Briscou stood across 169th Street beset against a cavalry of garbage cans, and the dimming light of the borough with the broken reputation of being the poorest district in the nation. I was on assignment, so I was only able to look at these drab, unfamiliar streets from my ignorant periphery. “More than a quarter million people in the South Bronx are living in poverty,” according to the Daily News. Narcotics are not the only anesthetic here. I watch people like concert goers, flocking to stores and Bodegas and leaving with Lotto cards and scratch offs, somnolent.
Escape was everywhere. From the Cross to the Beauty and Barber shops.
Ally saw me walking on Gunhill Road and asked if I could take her photo. Her slanting mouth produced the sweetest smell of stale liquor. Her eyes were exhausted , and her ears tired from listening to her abusive husband who seemed jealous that she was calling to me. I gave her the attention, too. He was enraged.
It is easy for people to walk by and not see people here. It is easy to ignore everyday plight, of hardships, struggles, sorrow and illness. I see the anguish replicated in the faces of everyday people. I see them, hurling themselves from one escape to the next, from plague to pizza shop, from ball game to barber shop. Hope spreads its wings like the sunset over each faithful resident in search of that promise. The construction of a greater America seems to have lost its way or does not have enough fare to get to the Bronx. I walk around the Bronx looking for reflections of me, and sometimes I am lucky.
#whenlivingisaprotest #bronxportraits #fujifilmxt2 @fujifilmx_us

March 31, 2018
The FISHer Price

It is still fresh in my mind, this feeling; like a spiteful, unflagging hammer, beating against a capitulated mallet, reshaping my attitude towards mental illness and invisibility.
My head feels like a modeled wood, — adapting.
Last week I spent eight days photographing the faces of people who seemingly dipped their faces inside what you and I deemed to be reality, rising up after our baptism, labeled normal. The result is a moment of clarity that is still shaping my life.
Today I got up out of bed and watched my boys propped up in front of the television playing their Nintendo. In my mind I asked the silent voice, should I teach them the Easter story even though I no longer believe in it’s significance or relevance in my life.
I also asked the voice in my belly to give me a sign today, so that I might mold this sculpture better.
Thirteen minutes later I pass by this figure, burdened by the black winter garb that carved itself around his black skin, sitting on a store front.
The sign above is head said “Available” and he seemed to be scanning through his bible.
“Do you believe in the Ten Commandments,” he asked me.
“In a way,” I answered.
“Well I am going to teach you something today. Stop believing in these stories. God does not exist in the church, he exist all around us. Just follow the Ten Commandments, that’s it I have nothing else to say.”
“What is your name,” I asked.
“Fisher,” he answered smiling.
Then he turned away.
#whenlivingisaprotest #brooklynportrait #bedstuyportrait #easter #sign #fujifilmx100f @fujifilmx_us

March 30, 2018
Party Hearty

I arrived first on campus in the late evening in the Fall. I walked into campus and landed right in the middle of a conversation surrounding what it takes to maintain ones identity on a campus among the faces of so many from all over the diaspora.
But the campus was buzzing with energy. These were the last few months of the semester and flyers and posters advertising the next party were being hoisted over heads or passed around with smiles and anticipation.
I tried to keep up. Choosing first what felt familiar before moving to the more unaccustomed. Jouvert was my baptism.
I then moved on to the lettered clubs. I had no idea about Greek culture, or its place on a black campus so of course I tried everything but don my Toga apparel to ensure that I fit in. There is so much to discuss here but that needs it’s own set of ten images.
The students had me running from one section of the campus to the other. Sometimes I found myself at a few clandestine venues with bouncers and security for oil spills and nupes.
The smallest group event I attended was hosted by the African students organization. Granted this was pre-Wakanda Forever so my prediction is that the groups numbers will triple this semester.
I patrolled the dorms, listened to the adventures and stories the young men echoed with gallantry. I was sympathetic for all of those including me who had to wake up before 5am to head to ROTC training. But I had to assume that none of those guys left heir dorms or partied too much because they were up before the darkness released its grasp of the light.
Its fair to say as much as these young men study and organize, they had fun. I definitely could not keep up.
#whenlivingisaprotest @fujifilmx_us

March 29, 2018
Activism
I recalled that on my first trip to Morehouse, I was saddled with frustration, with a camera on each arm, I searched for the next great Orator who might be in training. After all, I was visiting during some of the most tumultuous times of racial unrest in this Trump era. However on my second trip, I was told that Dr. King’s civil rights movement had stalled and needed the efforts of both the women of Clark Atlanta and Spelman - so I changed focus.
Seemed to me that the original T’Challa might have been a Morehouse Man.
I recalled staying up late one night with the SGA committee to witness a graffiti of the N word, then watched Brown Street spill over with articulate reflections on why, who, and if the word has a place in today’s lexicon.
I attended classes and watched as professors teased and nurtured the activist and the student in each boy. I also observed young men redefining gender identities and casting away binary definitions.
While I was there, an infamous letter turned up on Brown Street with a number of students debating over whether It was ok for Spelman to start allowing men who have lived as women over a period of time to attend the college. Meanwhile a woman who had been transitioning to a man bemoaned the idea that men like him would not be allowed to attend Spelman. I found activism to be the heart of Brown Street, and the most beautiful part was, it had no gender identity there.
#whenlivingisaprotest @fujifilmx_us

March 28, 2018
The “Morehouse Man”
Already people have been asking me questions about this new Race issue by National Geographic. Without sounding too much as if I am defending decisions made by the magazine of which I was not privy, let me just say this, ...it took the Creator seven days, let us all keep working.
Moving on, I want to introduce these faces that I came to know and appreciate while I was on the campuses of the AUC - specifically Morehouse.
I arrived on campus with a demo script, and my nostrils open. After all, this is the college where Martin Luther King, Spike Lee and my favourite Samuel L Jackson attended. And — there are beautiful stories too. One student opened up about learning that Dr. King fell from a dorm window. I had to go and see from what heights he fell, and another told me how Samuel Jackson was expelled from Morehouse for locking a few board members in a building for two days, in protest of the school’s curriculum.
At every turn there is that question, who is a Morehouse Man? It is the fabric that makes up their mold, and one that takes each student through a ceremony of some sorts culminating in his graduation, if he gets that far. But whether it is those dapper young men in their bow ties, grey or blue suits, or the student strolling to class in his du rag and sweats, in my time there I was introduced to a multitude of ideas and examples of what it means to be a Morehouse Man. To tell you the truth, these young men have no idea how good they have it under the guidance of men like Professor Illya Davis. The joke between he and I was would I send my sons to Morehouse and each time my answer was “Hell Naw!!!” I was conflicted. But by the end of my time there I truly realized that black men like of all shade, and fades, ideas, and idioms, nature or our nurturing can be a Morehouse Man — he is not monolithic.
#whenlivingisaprotest @fujifilmx_us

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