Images of Equity with Lynsey Weatherspoon

The photographer and curator shares her thoughts on images of the fight for justice, past and present

By Google Arts & Culture

01 Protest for Racial Equity and Justice

Lynsey Weatherspoon is an Atlanta-based photographer. Her work takes inspiration from Carrie Mae Weems and her own mother, Rhonda, to tell stories of contemporary black and queer identity, and to "capture heritage and history in real time".

Here, she shares her thoughts on images which capture the past and the present of the struggle for equity and human rights in black and queer communities, such as these two images of hands, one by contemporary photographer Shan Wallace, and one by Ernest Cole.

Shan Wallace MLK March Washington (1)

"Shan Wallace’s image of two people grabbing hands at the Lincoln Memorial reminds me of togetherness and unity, juxtaposed against that of Ernest Cole’s image during apartheid in South Africa. Though similarly in unity, Cole’s photo provides a context about the inequities of segregation that could not be avoided, yet still present in both countries (USA and South Africa)"

“Wallace plays with obscurity among the two hands, who could be family or strangers as they either enter or exit the ​Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool on the National Mall. We don’t know what’s happening, but our assumptions bring about an untold story of how these two people may have connected.” 

“The softness of the hand with orange nails set against the gorgeous skin of an elder to help them celebrate and heal at a recreation of the original March on Washington; a moment where they could share stories handed down from their family who can recall being there or seeing it on television.”

LW(1)

Julien James (2)

Comparing two more images, this photograph by Julien James and a painting by contemporary artist, Toyin Ojih Odutola, Weatherspoon discovers parallel narratives of resistance and identity.

“James’ photo stands out in how the young person is dressed could be seen as part of Black excellence, while teetering the lines of respectability politics. The attire and diction of a Black person doesn’t matter when systemic racism is a burden that’s ever present. The strength in the Black fist, being part of such movements as the Poor People’s Campaign also held in Washington, D.C., is what makes the impact of the photo.” 

The Paradox of Education (2013) by Toyin Ojih OdutolaThe Studio Museum in Harlem

"Odutola’s piece, titled ​The Paradox of Education​, plays on how Blackness may be interpreted in order to be seen as successful or worthy of acceptance." 

"Each subject/character’s face falls into ambiguity, yet their identity is solidified through their gaze and stature. There’s promise in their eyes (even through sunglasses), and a need to understand their daily process of living in a world that places joys and barriers in Black life."

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