Tucson Black Voices

Tucson Black Voices, a portrait project by Kathleen Dreier Photography, features the diverse experiences of our Black community. May we all become proactive allies as a result.

“Fear and self-hatred is passed down through generations. We fight for equality, justice, and to be seen for who we are. We spread love, share love, love each other, unconditionally. But at some point, we will all face fear and hatred for simply existing. We try to let it pass through us, but pieces get left behind. These bits of trauma stay with us, they affect how we navigate spaces, how we see ourselves, how we grow.” – Zoe
This is what I know about myself. I am a wolf. I named myself that when I was seven. I travel a thousand miles in Dream Time. I love deeply, passionately, and fiercely. In This Moment, my job is to leave the Word better than how I found it. For me, that’s doing one song at a time, one painting at a time, and one hug at a time.”- ToReeNee
“Covid19 has directly and indirectly affected communities of color. As black folk, we are predisposed to heart disease, diabetes, hypertension and obesity. Biking offers solutions that can plague our community. Biking is not only a source of exercise, but can be a mechanism to self-awareness, discipline and self-empowerment.” – Lucy
“I’ve witnessed, time and time again firsthand, those with complete hatred and disdain for someone with skin not the color of theirs, forced to rethink their entire value system when a son or daughter didn’t see color lines. When faced with the fact that they now have mixed grandchildren, greatgrandchildren and a new bloodline, black, white, brown, yellow or red, the love of children and grandchildren will reshape your reality.” – Shihan Johnny
“It doesn’t matter that cats are my favorite animals, or I cry watching old movies, or I can bake a perfect cheesecake…Because I live in America. None of that matters, because I can be killed just for being black. And who I was, will never matter, because if a man in a uniform kills me, I’m automatically a bad person.” – Sarah
“My fiancé, the father of my kids was killed shot in head to be exact by the gun of an Arizona DPS officer who claimed he feared for his life. This occurred in Tucson. Now I wasn’t there of course, but I know damn well my baby wouldn’t hurt anybody let alone a f*ckin cop.” – Kerri
“The truth is black lives only matter when they are entertaining you. Outside of the gratification a black body brings when we are doing anything you find pleasing, our existence is debatable to you…I’m still teaching my daughter that she can be anything and that her generation will see the defunding and dismantling of the biggest domestic terrorist organization the world used to know.” – Jane
“Goodness is not just an end state; it is a continuation of the practice of goodness and finding ways to be good every day. It’s hard and requires self-reflection and sometimes that sucks. If you find yourself saying to yourself over and over “You are a good person”as a way to comfort yourself, you are building complacency into your mind.” -Elliot
“If you are silent, you are my enemy. Understand. Nothing smolders more than silence when a crisis arises, when allies are needed, when a hand reaches out, or when a solution to a problem is necessary. Silence is pernicious. It is unquenchable. It is a deep burn like coals. I need your action. Intrepid action that leaps from comforted excuses and prevails in the face of fear.” – Marquez
“I am the sun // And I don’t want to rise // I can’t shine bright // Amidst the cries. // When people afraid of me // Tell their lies // And the person who’s skin I kissed // Dies” -poem excerpt by Serene
“The criminal justice system isn’t broken; it’s doing exactly what it was designed to do and that to destroy families and communities and creating false hope and faith in a system that is about money and not people.” – Matt
“I am a Blackman and hold no grudge against anyone. Though my eyes I see all individuals as equal, unique in their own way but it seems a title puts us as a separate race divided into a category that one is superior over the other. At an early age I was taught to be kind to people and try to avoid conflict because it never resolves anything, it true to some extent.” – Mark
“Throughout history, white people had to be told, convinced, and persuaded that we were precious life too because it wasn’t even in their realm of comprehension. I can’t say a single thing that hasn’t been said before and I’m tired of repeating myself. If you don’t get it by now, then you just don’t want to.” – Brandon
“And we can no longer sit idle while these injustices multiply as we watch our genocide. If you are an ally, that means that you too can no longer sit idle either. We need you. We need you to help dismantle the systems your ancestors made. We need you to talk to your friends, to initiate the conversations. We need to hear and see your voice. We appreciate the posts on social media, but realize the work doesn’t stop there. Join us as we push for equality for people of color and raise the bar on expectations.” – A
“It saddens me that we live in a country that was built up by Blacks stolen from their land, and still do not have nearly the same rights and opportunities that others have. If the principles of those who formed the United States were to ever truly come to pass, we might all finally be able to walk hand in hand as Dr. King dreamed about not too long ago.” – Jerry
“Throughout history, white people had to be told, convinced, and persuaded that we were precious life too because it wasn’t even in their realm of comprehension. I can’t say a single thing that hasn’t been said before and I’m tired of repeating myself. If you don’t get it by now, then you just don’t want to.” – Brandon
I am // I am what my grandmother dreamed of // I am what my mother prayed for // I am what my ancestors believed in // I am the history within the present // I am – Seanloui
“As an African American Ballet dancer I always stood out from the crowd, and to this day I can count on one hand how many African Americans have supported me or my business.  Something about Ballet is fearful to many in the Black Community, they don’t understand the art form and thus saw me as an “Uncle Tom” because of my ballet.” – Joey
“Violence is like an act of gambling. Some win and some lose. This was one of the casualties. Training procedures need to happen to avoid these casualties.Use these episodes as a platform for a dialogue. Look across at one another, not down to condemn and not up to be afraid, but straight across at one another. When you find out where one another is coming from you’ll know what to do.” – Black Man Clay
“As a woman of color and also as a woman living with a disability, I am often placed in the position of trying to explain racial privilege and also able-bodied privilege to others. I no longer want to be the only person to hold space for these topics.” – Alanna
“Please do not think for a minute that racism is resurging, it’s never gone away. But what is new is the number of individuals who are recognizing our struggle. They are educating themselves through initiating deep, meaningful, and sometimes uncomfortable conversations surrounding race. I pray this is just the beginning. That our newfound allies do not desert us once the hype dies down, because for blacks and people of color this is a lifelong struggle and something, we cannot turn a blind eye to and walk away.” -Sharon
“I’m not saying that raising white children is not hard, but we have to go the extra mile to make sure that our children learn other things in life that is not taught to white children like being safe. Example what to do if they ever get stopped by the police: Do not argue with the police, keep hands up at all times, not in pockets. Do not move, run, resist arrest, stay calm. Just make it home safe.” – Rose
“45 has opened pandora’s box and allowed every stinking closet racist out of the box. Now they flaunt their racism openly and without repercussions. To be born Black is a potential death sentence. At the present and as it has been for 400 years, all you can do is keep on trucking & be aware.” – Ron Austin
“In the beginning of all of this that is happening I could not understand why people refused to acknowledge our point of view every time someone says Black Lives Matters the response that people say is all lives matter. What people don’t understand is that we never said no other lives but blacks matter what we are saying is that people need to understand that we matter as well.” – Rahsheen
“Such actions as participation in community forums, attending black churches, or simply speaking up when you see a person of color being treated by police in a way that you would not want your daughter or son treated. These actions can go a long way toward making Tucson a more just, friendly and caring community for all of its residents.” – Darwin
“My form of activism (or ARTivism) and giving back is about showing up when and where I can. Also, primarily through the Performing Arts & Education. Representation in these areas as a Black woman is essential. It not only shows that we are here too, but it gives us voice and the opportunity to shift the culture in new and necessary ways.” – Chezale
“I want to laugh loud in public without being looked at as the loud and boisterous black guy. I want to walk downtown without purses being held tighter when I walked by. I want the privilege to just dream. To dream like white kids dream to walk on Mars, I want to feel that in my neighborhood. I want the belonging I feel with people who look like me, I want to feel that with everyone. I just want my dreams to stop being my dreams.” – Andres
“I have had to prove to potential clients that my credentials are valid, my experience is valid, and I am valid. Often times I have the most education in the room due to working twice as hard to get into spaces that would otherwise be closed to me. I have obtained one certification after the other, advanced classes, constantly reading on new technology, new techniques, I have several academic publications and I am completing my doctorate and I still have to prove to some clients that I am good enough or smart enough.” – Jennifer, psychotherapist
“We are perfect beings that God made. We have the opportunity to change and come together. This world is beautiful because there is different color; all this diversity together is beautiful. There is different cultures, different spirits….we are like the sky. America, for me, is the head of liberty of the freedom because this country went through a lot to get to this level.” – General

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