FINDING COMMON GROUND
I am making portraits of people; people from diverse backgrounds including those identifying as LGBTQIA+, immigrants and refugees, the BIPOC community, people with disabilities, homeless folks, 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 to combine the words of prose or poetry received from these people with the portraits I make of them. This is a project that addresses and embraces inclusivity.
Simply Human is the name I have given to this project. It is my belief that we are all in essence, simple human beings. We all have similar wants, needs, and desires toward a quality of life. While we have common pursuits, what often separates us is inflated class distinctions and levels of privilege. I believe it’s important to examine my own lens of privilege and talk with others about all of this. For me it becomes a confrontation of past traits, but more especially, to understand how privilege may continue to operate. This project allows me to see and make deliberate efforts at undoing such behavior and false entitlements in myself. I also seek to hear from others, who are willing to confront their privilege and determination to act constructively toward common ground. While I am certainly a progressive liberal, I am also interested in hearing from others with more conservative views, in exploring our mutual values and beliefs. I do believe coexistence is possible, when based upon a core respect for one another. I feel that we have more likes than differences, regardless of cultural nuances.
Having been raised in a sexist, racist, and homophobic culture, I am working 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, but more than that, Simply Human is my way of honoring the people I have connected with, and substantiating our common bonds.
Stephan Brigidi 2022
LGBTQ+, gay, lesbian, Black Lives Matter, human, human rights, poetry, music, transgender, immigrants, refugees, privilege, white, male, simply human, liberalism, love