Graphic Design Curation Photography Collage

The Brother to Brother t-shirt graphic is based on the first edition cover of the anthology by the same name; edited by Essex Hemphill and Joseph Beam in 1991. It's full of poems and stories of Black men connecting with each other and sharing experiences of love and loss. This project is to honor those that were a part of putting this book together.
At the same time, I want to create a kind of visual through-line from the past to my present reality as a Black, Queer, Transman. In that way, I’m also asking: How does my current identity fit into this powerful lineage? The visuals I created are a digital mixed-media exploration of Black masculinity. It includes photography, collage, graphic design, t-shirt screenprinting, curation and writing (from the anthology).


Curated work by other creatives that set the tone for this project.


by Isaac Julien and Kobena Mercer

Our social definitions of what it is to be a "man," about what constitutes "manliness," are not natural, but are historically constructed and culturally variable. The dominant definitions of masculinity, accepted as the social norm, are products of a false consciousness imposed by patriarchal ideology.

The present repertoire of images of black masculinity – from docile Uncle Tom to Superspade heroes like Shaft – have been forged in and through the histories of slavery, colonialism, and imperialism. A central strand of the "racial power" exercised by the white male slave master was the denial of certain masculine attributes to black males, such as authority, dignity, and familial responsibility. Through these collective historical experiences, black men have adopted and used certain patriarchal values such as physical strength, sexual prowess, and being in control to create a system of black male gender roles in which macho tactics are used to cope with the repressive and destructive power of the plantocracy and the state. The stereotype of the black "mugger" is paradoxically perpetuated by the way black male youth have had to develop macho behaviors to resist harassment, criminalization, and the coercive intrusions of white male police forces into their communities. The apparent incorporation of patriarchal values into black male gender identities is a contradictory process. In sports, for example, there are concrete advantages to be gained from appearing to play up to white expectations.


Respect yourself, my brother,
for we are so many wondrous things /
Like a black rose, you are a rarity to be found.
Our leaves intertwine as I reach out to you
after the release of a gentle rain / You precious gem,
black pearl that warms the heart,
symbol of ageless wisdom, I derive strength
from the touch of your hand / Our lives blend together
like rays of light; we are men of color,
adorned in shades of tan, red, beige, black, and brown.
Brothers born from the same earth womb.
Brothers reaching for the same star.
Love me as your equal.
Love me, brother to brother.


︎ The Project

Bonus Round ︎

Photos via Cheryl Dunye

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