Ruddy roye

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March 26, 2014 "Evolving" "Being a woman is painful. Thirty five year old Dkay Harrison stretched the word painful for as long as she could hold the word in one breath. She was talking about her life and relaying her opinions about evolving into a woman and observing other women in her workplace and in her community. She also shared that in the society that she lives, with the standards for women changing every week, that it was difficult to know who and how a woman should behave. "We have to be like slaves to society in order to be accepted. A lot of women I know are trying so hard to be like men.Women want to be successful, they want jobs traditionally held by men, they want to get paid like men and they want to control their relationships the way men do. Who wants to be with a woman who wants to be like a man? I find that a lot of these career based women or women who chose their professions over family life and love, to be single. I am not saying we should stay at home and just have babies but we also should not be competing. We are two different people," she declared. Dkay who is single, said that she became a women after having her daughter Shyane. She stated that there were things in her life that were not important before, like cooking. She said that after giving birth she had to change her mindset and change her diet because breast feeding was an important component to her feeling like a woman. Dkay said she gave up her dream of becoming a porn star because she was concerned about what kind of role model she would be for her daughter "I couldn't do it anymore. My lifestyle had to change. Having sex with multiple partners, my bedroom was a revolving door, after Shyane was born I realized that I had to take care of my body, being a woman means that you are responsible for life." #oggl_ig #womenhistorymonth #makeportraits

March 28, 2014 "Dancing with Strength" In some cultures, a dance is used to invoke the spirits and then praise them. Identifying with certain spirits allows for the coming together of our ancestors with these spirits in a way that influences the world of the living. The success of this revolves around maintaining a good relationship and good communication with the spirit world. Mara Perez dances with the legacy left by her ancestors, gracefully sharing it to audiences, her friends and students, with both strength and fear. "Dancing is my medicine. I saw a video of me dancing at 5 months pregnant and I began to cry. Why was I crying? Because for the first time, I witnessed my power and my strength in the way I danced, not for the service of ego, but for the service of legacy. In the video I was with a group of women drumming to my dancing, which is the ultimate space of power, legacy, life, transformation, and healing. I could see the woman," she said standing between two conga drums. Mara also said that ever since she learned that she was pregnant, she has been interested in the co-existence of both fear and strength and the inner dialogue between the two elements. Believing that the process has a purpose and a path she has to take, Mara clings to the simplest things, like the legacy of her name, and what she will be passing to her unborn child. "At the beginning of my pregnancy, I spent many nights, many days, many subway rides thinking, breathing, praying for anything that could work and anything that could help me avoid revealing how much fear I had, even to my husband. But I learned to say yes I am afraid, and yes I am the shit, and yes, no one is going to take my baby away from me. So yes it is a journey, of fear and strengh. I can say this at 9 months, I feel ready, I am ready, I was born ready. This is the essence of being a woman. It is the idea of going though the journey of fear not feeling ready, but to think that you are ready, to feel ready, and to totally embody the notion that you were born ready, for anything."

March 29, 2014 "Stage Flight" I recall my exploration into the world of burlesque and found myself surrounded by writers, playwrights and poets. I was excited. Words have always done it for me. High burlesque referred to the imitation of a comically inappropriate subject matter to an elevated literary form. Low burlesque applied an sense of mocking style to a serious subject matter. When burlesque went out of fashion in England, the American style flourished with an increasing focus on the female nudity. The transition from burlesque to striptease was gradual. "Burlesque for me is a expression of my sexuality. It is amazing how people from the 17th century created such a great show, the way they mix sexuality with parody in a theatrical sense. So it means for me that I can express my sexuality without been judge, I can be free to explore and be a woman on this stage." Saguel Cabrera came to the United States to find a better life. Four years ago the diminutive woman from the Dominican Republic said that she had no voice. In her country she felt less free. She told me that she was always answering to either her parents or a voice from the very male dominated culture. In burlesque she has found a way to bloom as a woman. "The first time that I became a woman was the time that I made the decision on my own to leave my country and come to NYC to be a better person, to make my dreams come true to become an independent woman," she said. "To be a woman means a lot to me. I mean its only thing that I know but it makes me feel so proud to be a female. We create life, we teach, we make sure that the next generation makes the right decision, we work hard, we are committed, we are able to create a family and also be a wife and mother all at the same time, we are the future."

March 30, 2014 "War Scars" Sometimes a story is buried in your cards waiting for the day to be born. Today my 12 O clock cancelled and left me with two choices. I could either hit the streets or stay at home and find a woman I could collaborate with for the final day tomorrow. The last two days of #womenhistorymonth should have two powerful stories I thought, but today was proving to be a no story. Valerie Jeanne born 6/26/75 locked her eyes on my car as I made the turn onto Macon Street. An alluring smile, followed by a quick shuffle and she was already on my right hand side asking me to open my car door. I declined, smiling back, but chose to pull over and talk to her on the side of the street. I parked right across from the Missionaries of Charity, home of the Sisters who attend the Lady of Victory School. I assumed that it was a convent. I asked Valerie if she was Catholic and she quickly replied that she was a confirmed one too. I started to talk about what I was doing in Bedstuy and she stepped backwards. She did not want to take pictures. "I cannot, look at my face, it is filled with war scars," she said looking away. Her face had deep holes all over it "from years of abuse," she confirmed. "It's very hard being a woman sometimes. It's so competitive being a woman on the streets in New York City," Valerie explained For a while Valerie said that she was homeless living on the streets and taking crack. I only went on crack when my second son died. I went into the bedroom to find that he had choked on his vomit while sleeping on his back. And while dealing with that, I went home a few weeks later to find my second husband in bed with a fifteen year old, I confronted them and he kicked out four of my teeth with his steel toe boots." Valerie smiled when she talked about the first day that she bought her first set of clothing. "I felt like a woman. I was 16 years old, I bought a short black skirt, with a black velvet blouse and a gold belt with black velvet shoes. I was trying to get a job at Macdonalds. It was a highlight of my life." Valerie looked up at me and told me she had to leave. "I have to go make some money," she said before strolling off.

March 31, 2014 "Goddess Principles" Today she stood on the stairs of a building that she said molded her strength as a woman. She was in tears as she looked away from my prying lens. "Oh I needed the spirit of all the other mothers and women from this Order, because it is too painful to stand here." Mama Akosua was born in 1951 in the Bronx but was raised in Brooklyn. In fact, it was at the mature age of 27 that she said she "became a woman in Brooklyn." "Coming from the Bronx, and crossing that small body of water, I felt a great sense of freedom. I was coming from under the strong grip of a woman -- my mother," she said in her interview. She told me that when she moved to Brooklyn she discovered what she described as her original mothers, who were her grandmothers. While in Brooklyn The devout spiritualist said that she met other mothers, older women who stopped and spoke to her, raised her with their words, taught her how to cook, and showed her how to raise two children on her own. Around 1991 Mama Akosua said that she was introduced to the United Order of Tents by a man who said that it was the place to establish meaningful relationships with older women. "It was a Christian Order, made up entirely of women. I was the black sheep of the whole order. My name was Akosua, I wore long skirts and I had dreadlocks," she said with a sly grin. Internal strifes, a lack of vision, and frequent fighting for invisible power, saw the sisterhood's membership decline over the years. She said that as the years passed, she was not surprised to see the Macon Street Chapter close. "Everyone wanted to be the boss." Recently a piece of the land that the building now occupies was sold to a developer amidst much controversy. "It does not seem that this Chapter will ever be opened again. Women are becoming more empowered. When women shake off the shackles that are being thrust upon them by men and embrace their femininity, she will look at her life in a different way. Women have more power than she understands. Not to diminish the power of a man but whenever she embraces the goddess principles set before her by all women before her she will change the future forever."

March 16, 2014 "Legal Alien" Sigh, "What makes me a woman?" she repeated. She looked to her left as if she was looking towards the beaches of Zanzibar. Muonja Simba is ready to reclaim that part of her that has been dormant for over 16 years. "I have been here since I was 15 years old. I grew up into an adult feeling incomplete and lonely here. I grew up here without my mother and grandmother." For sixteen years, Muonja has lived in the United States on a steady diet of calling cards; "four to five times a week sometimes, feeding on the culture I get from my mother," she chimed in. Her face lights up when she talks about her mother and her home Da-es-Salaam, in Tanzania. "Love -- I miss the love of my family. I miss the love that comes from the women in my family. I was named after my great grand mother, it's spiritual, I carry her, she lives with me. It how I relate, culturally, physically, emotionally, whatever she left behind is what I give to people. Whenever I am in doubt I feel her spirit. She instilled in me the idea that it's more about giving than receiving. I feel the pressure of being in America like this. It only leaves me when I think of home. My mother is this graceful woman, gentle, and feminine. My mother was the matriarch at home, she organized our family while my dad watched us grow. The respect that my mom got from my father was the definition of love. I don't think I will see or feel that outside of what I saw between my mother and my dad. They taught me this way of being. She taught me about my brain, body and being That is home to me. That is the definition of woman to me. There was no malice in my home. Nobody had a place but we were grounded by our culture, it felt unbreakable." Muonja which in Swahili means "Tester" has embraced her life, the adversities and tests she had to undergo living here. With Obama's new immigration law, Muonja is hoping to adjust her status and find her way back home soon. This made her smile. #oggl_ig #womenhistorymonth #blackportraiture #muonjasimba #makeportrait #makeportraits #bedstuyportrait #brooklynportrait #brooklynphotography #streetportrait #streetphotography #igers #instamood #sonya7r

Homage to Baraka We use to wait for his voice, the way the meteorologists wait then tracks the hurricane that starts in Africa and blows up the Americas…. It ruffles the South sifting and retrieving the hopes of many, squeezing their voices into paragraphs and liberating them on the streets of Harlem They didn’t know what to name him. Leroi Jones, teacher, Amiri Baraka, activist, Poet Laureate, artist or leader, They bottled him an Anti-semite. He was our wind. The heat and the chill that rested in our bellies and spines He was that low pressure system that shot out of our mouths in anger or out of contempt left our behinds both carried the smell of our intentions. To us he was as cool as a Caribbean breeze, so cool, he painted our people blue, long before James Cameron thought of putting them into a movie. His voice carried our songs trumpeting through the bending trees and collecting our bebop and fusion, transforming our ballads, and slave songs into a Black Arts Movement. We will miss his voice. The “broad edge silly music the wind makes” as he rises up from Africa and dumps his coloured tones all over America. For more on this series please follow @newyorkerphoto

March 13, 2014 "The Pan African" Nzinga Dotson-Newman is a 31 years old Californian who has recently moved to Brooklyn. She moved here two years ago to find what she described as "freedom." A year ago Nzinga embraced her new found sexuality and said that, "I found my freedom when I became ok with my vagina. A year ago I found the woman in me." She said her need to discover the woman inside of her took her through a rites of passage. She explained that her travels took her to the slave dungeons in Africa, she also followed the curious girl to dance samba in Bahia, and then she flew to find reggae in Jamaica. While in Jamaica as a female wearing locked she was always told that what she wore on the beach, ate and drank was not how a rasta woman should conduct herself. "It was on these trips that I first learnt how to appreciate being a woman in America. I appreciate my strength and my freedom here." Nzinga said that she survive here because her hobby became her business. "My first winter I was really cold. I needed a thick scarf and so I made my first one, no sooner had I made it, someone asked to purchase it. In no time I found myself selling each scarf I made for myself. I now cover sneakers, I make greeting cards, shirts and skirts, and scarves. using African material." After this journey Nzinga said, "I am happy, I love my relationships, especially with my family. The universe works in very mysterious ways, and today I am happy." #oggl_ig #blackportraiture #womenhistorymonth #brooklynportrait #bedstuyportrait #brooklynphotography #streetportrait #streetphotography #makeportrait #makeportraits #picoftheday #sonya7r

March 14, 2014 "The Nurse" "Being a woman means nothing to me now. I am too old now to care about those things," said Larissa after I stopped her on Greene Ave as she made her rounds. Larissa, whose name means seagull in Greek, can often be seen feeding the feral cats and neighborhood birds in Brooklyn at one of its street corners. I see and pass her almost everyday. Her athletic structure restricted and confined behind layers of clothes, slumped over her simple hand cart, sifting through the neighbourhood trash. Through sleet, snow and polar vortex I pass her with her cart laden with cans and bottles. She said that when she came to this country, she was told that if she was able to get employment at a local hospital, she would be able to procure a green card. Larissa said that she paid her lawyer $400 at the time, only to be told after a few months that she would not be receiving the legal means to stay in this country. Undaunted by this setback, she found employment off the books taking care of the elderly. For years she went to her job, barely finding enough to save, because the pay was so low. "Working without papers leaves you vulnerable and you do not get paid well," she said. She said that after her last client died, she found herself unemployed. In a few months, Larissa used up all her savings and eventually lost her apartment. At her lowest after taking refuge in the shelter system, she said she met an old women who told her that she didn't have to worry because she could find money "under her feet." "A nickel a bottle. That was the answer. At first I was really ashamed. As age has found me, I am not so ashamed and it is no longer a big deal." As I walked back to my car, Larissa called out, "Do you believe in God?" "Yes," I replied "Pray for me," she said "I will," I replied. #oggl_ig #whiteportraiture #womenhistorymonth #bedstuyportrait #brooklynportrait #brooklynphotography #streetportrait #streetphotography #makeportrait #makeportraits #sonya7

March 15, 2014 "Women's Rights" I met Joelle Poole during fashion week and really found her energy dynamic, and strong. Her opinions about life, women and the fashion industry were so enlightening I knew I wanted to work with her again. So during women's history month I contacted her and asked her how she felt about being a woman in America. Here is an extract from her reply. "When I think of women and women in America especially I think of strength. Our role in society has changed. Women are pursuing their dreams, going after their goals, and not only subduing to their roles as house wives. I have no judgement on that if it is what they feel, it is when a woman settles that it is upsetting to me. For that matter when anyone, no matter what sex or race denies this world their gifts and gives up on their purpose I find that disappointing. As an African American woman the rights provided by my society are relatively new for my gender race combination when compared to other gender race combos throughout history. My right to vote as a women wasn't acknowledge by our government until Aug 26th, 1920. It took Elizabeth Stanton nearly 80 years to have her dream realized. It's kind of sad and comical, when I think about the American Flag and it's relevance to the advancement of women in America. White -- purity/innocence, Red --hardiness / valour, Blue -- vigilance, perseverance, justice, Stars- the heavens / our divine, Stripes --- rays of sunlight. When I look at the flag it represents strength, struggle, love, and sacrifice. That is what it took from the women and African Americans before me to obtain the rights and liberties that I am able to enjoy today. That is why I can proudly wear it atop my head now. I am grateful and will continue the tradition.We're not done yet!" #oggl_ig #blackportraiture #womenhistorymonth #makeportraits #makeportrait #igers #instamood #sonya7r

February 28, 2014 "Black and Human" Hakeem Maintainance Security Services Incorporated, employs men and women who have a felony charge. On most of the construction sites all over Brooklyn Mr. Hill has been able to procure work for his "special" employees. When I sat down with owner Hakeem Hill I was brimming with questions. "Why did you choose this life, why didn't you choose a quiet life after all that you had already gone through?" I asked him "Because I am not just a black man, I am also a human being. One person, no matter how introverted can affect the community. I believe this, which is why I try to accentuate the positives -- always," he answered. Hakeem had been in and out of prison which started as far back as 1977. He said back then, there were only 39 state prisons in New York. Since then that number has doubled. Mr Hill said that returning to Brooklyn after serving a forth prison term he was introduced to the community organization "Power at Last" where he heard Lance Ali Williams explain to a group of mostly young men in the community. He explained that through affirmative action funds, communities were entitled to 25% of every contract issued. "When I went back home, I realized that he was basically saying that for every 16 workers 4 had to be from the community," Hakeem said smiling. "The average brother earns a little over a dollar a day. At Elmira Correctional Facility where I was in the 90's I earned $12.80 every two week. I thought that if I took what made the prison life successful and apply it outside the prison, I might be able to feed some families and save some lives." With a grin on his face he explained that workers were always on time and never grumbled in prison. "But when they are free, they complain about minimum wages." See more from this interview @newyorkerphoto

March 1, 2014 "The Struggle Continues" Gee is married with twin daughters. He is also one of the many ex convicts hired by Hakeem Maintenance security and Services Incorporated. He said to me that working hard was not new to him. Hustling and working are solid components of his make up as a man. But at the mature age of 41, he has found a deeper meaning to life. "The difference is, this time, I am motivated by my two angels," he said. When asked if he wanted to talk about his incarceration, he replied with seriousness, " It's in the past tense I can speak in the past tense." He explained that at 23 years old, he was hanging out with the wrong people at the wrong time and was arrested and charged with armed robbery. Gee was given 18 years but only served 11years. "Being in prison forces you to change," he pointed out. "Back before I was arrested my mentors were the guys who shared a bottle of forty ounce on the street corners with you. In the Penitentiary there are no distractions so you are forced to look and reflect on all your choices," Gee said, with eyes that pierced each caged year with disdain. "I know now that the only way I am going to excel in this world is by working. My babies are my life. This is my reality now my babies are my present." #oggl_ig #blackportraiture #blackhistorymonth (continues) #brooklynportrait #brooklynphotography #bedstuyportrait #streetportrait #streetphotography #street_bw #igers #instamood #documentary #sonya7r

March 2, 2014 "Being A Breadwinner" Fifty four year old Stephen Neverson said that he was fortunate to be living close to the job site. "I saw Mr. Hakeem early one morning, told him about my situation and he asked me if I can start the next morning," he said. The immigrant from Trinidad who has lived with his wife for 19 years here in Brooklyn does not complain anymore about the vicious cold he has to work in. "The money allows me to take care of my family." Neverson who still has three children in Trinidad has to work enough money to support his family here and his children in Trinidad. #oggl_ig #blackportraiture #brooklynportrait #brooklynphotography #streetportrait #street_bw #streetphotography #igers #instamood #makeportrait #makeportraits #shootmoreportraits #sonya7r

March 6, 2014 "Birthday" Mosijah One hundred and eight cycles today Confirms every decision that I made to stay And watch This child Part Chiron, part crab, Lion, chameleon unicorn, manatee And Medusa killer, Part roach, mouse Orchid, daisy Potpourri filler mango, nectarine, Shubunkin, rooster The romantic and the dreamer. He reminds me Of a wish Made on fig leaves That now swell like a ripening fruit Filled with the magic Of a growing youth Whose natural mission Will be to fall and return the love. #oggl_ig #mosijahroye #son #blackportraiture #streetportrait #streetphotography #brooklynportrait #brooklynphotography #bedstuyportrait #makeportrait #makeportraits #igers #instamood #sonya7

March 7, 2014 "Shabbat" "I enjoy learning about the legacy of the law and respecting God. Judaism is about respecting the law. It is the most blessed thing. Practicing my religion in a Jewish community is a dream come true." This is how twenty five year old Michael Doldron described his life as a Black Jew in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn. At times, Doldron said that he prefers to stay home and celebrate the Sabbath, instead of dealing with the sometimes overt, or inferred racism he experience from Jews of Eastern European descent. That attend the synagogue #oggl_ig #blackportraiture #brooklynportrait #brooklynphotography #streetportrait #streetphotography #street_bw #makeportrait #makeportraits #igers #instamood #sonya7r

March 11, 2014 "The Real Brooklyn" I will be talking about my exploration of Brooklyn and how I approach story telling at the i3: Images, ideas, Inspiration lecture series, MASTERS in DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY to be held at the School of Visual Art tonight starting at 7-8.30 pm. #oggl_ig #whiteportraiture #bedstuyportrait #brooklynportrait #brooklynphotography #streetportrait #street_bw #streetphotography #makeportrait #makeportraits #igers #instamood #sonya7