The Unlearning of a White Privileged Male
I am making portraits of people; all people from diverse backgrounds including people identifying as LGBTQ+, immigrants and refugees, the BIPOC community, people with disabilities, homeless people, and people like me – white privileged. It is a collaborative project where we participate together in word and image. I am asking those I photograph to join with me, to react with their own personal expressions. This becomes like a dance by having a dialogue together. The practice is combining their words of prose or poetry with my photograph. This is a dance that I believe requires a partner. Many dances become necessary.
Simply Human is the name I have given to this project. It is my belief that we are all in essence, simple human beings. It is my way of dealing with white privilege, the world I have come from. To substantiate this, I am examining my own lens of privilege and talking with others about all of this. It becomes a confrontation of past traits, but more especially, to understand how privilege continues to operate. This project allows me to see and make deliberate efforts at undoing such behavior and entitlements in myself.
Having been raised in a sexist, racist, and homophobic culture, I am determined to change the perceptions and views of the world that I inherited. As a working-class white person who basically knew only the parameters of the ethnic neighborhood that I came from, I practiced the models I was taught like an obedient child. It is an ongoing gradual process for me, to unlearn white privilege. This break involves an intellectual, emotional, psychological, physical, and ultimately a spiritual shift toward openness. It becomes a major change in attitude, from a fear-based belief system to one that is more about love.
Because I care deeply about humanity, this becomes my means of moving toward social justice. It is for me a project about my own healing. Simply Human is my way of honoring the people I have connected with, while honoring my desire to change.
Stephan Brigidi 2022
LGBTQ+, gay, lesbian, Black Lives Matter, human, human rights, poetry, music, transgender, immigrants, refugees, privilege, white, male, simply human, liberalism, love