by Tiametta Zoe (words and photos)
I won’t say too much about this photo essay because the photos speak for themselves. I will say that it came from the lens and eyes of a Black woman.
I have always dealt with debilitatingly low self-esteem and a deteriorating self-concept. This has often left me vulnerable to abuse, manipulation, and near-death experiences. Understanding the concept of my beauty and my essence has always been a struggle for me, mainly due to the way society has viewed and treated Black people in general and the traumatic history both my people and I have inherited. This is all being brought to the surface now like never before. I consider myself to be in recovery — learning the concepts of truth, self-love, assertiveness, courage, intuition, and progress.
Most importantly this is not about me but the story of Black people in general. Though this is just a snippet view of a massive story, I welcome you to the journey.
As an activist for the movement of Black Lives, I have gone through several stages of realization along with many breakdowns — all of which have led me to some breakthroughs. Especially, the traumatic impact of coming face-to-face with reality and accepting the fact that this society was never, ever built for me. And me having to forgive myself for the decades I spent torturing myself for not being enough. Another realization was noticing that my general suspicions of white people were partly allayed by seeing the many who have fought alongside me, offering their resources and support to this movement, with some losing their lives, and others even standing in front of me as a shield in order for me to get some of the photos you see in this essay.
But I am not promoting white saviorism nor does this dilute the reality that there are many white people — and even a few black folks — that are severely against this movement. Patriarchy, racism, and hate still have a stronghold on their hearts, and the grip of this evil governs their moral compass.
I offer my greatest respects and gratitude to my ancestors: Black women, the ones alive and the ones who have been killed at the hands of law enforcement — and society in general. And to the relentless organizers and protestors that deliver day in and day out to ensure the change that is needed. I recommend that if you haven’t already, make your way out to a march, an event where you can meet people, follow organizations in your area so that you stay in tuned and updated. Black Collective Voice, King County Equity Now, Decriminalize Seattle, AfricaTown, Seattle Evening March, Seattle Morning March, are some to name a few in the Seattle area, there are many more as well.
If you’re overwhelmed — especially if you are Black, self-care at this time is imperative. It is understandable if you need to take time to care for yourself, especially since you have lived through injustice your whole life. But do what you can — if you can’t attend a march, then at least vote or make a call, or learn to love yourself in your natural state — that is revolutionary in itself. If you decide to join a group or organization, do some research and find a group that resonates with you. Build your community through that, you both need the support. Or you can start your own intentional group for the cause, there are many ways to build community.
Lastly, remember that the killers of Seattle’s very own Charleena Lyles still have not been charged. She was pregnant and killed at her home in front of her three children at the hands of the Seattle Police Department. Remember that Shaun Fuhr was carrying his one-year-old daughter when SPD shot him in the head. Remember the many others where no charges have been filed to date in their cases. Remember that Breonna Taylor’s killers still have not been charged — cops killed her and called it a case of “mistaken identity.” Remember that Sandra Bland was killed and they called it a suicide. And remember the many Black children, Black women, and Black men who we have lost physically and spiritually at the hands of the system both here in the U.S. and globally. There are too many to name in this essay alone.
I love you and we got you. Let’s remember to never forget their names. To our future generations — we will work hard to ensure that you live in a world of peace, justice, equality, and love.
Tiametta Zoe is a local photographer, videographer, artist and writer. She considers herself a Love Warrior and enjoys playing the guitar very much. Find Tia on Instagram at tiametta_zoe.