“It struck me that perhaps the defining feature of being drafted into the black race was the inescapable robbery of time, because the moments we spent readying the mask or readying ourselves to accept half as much, could not be recovered. The robbery of time is not measured in lifespans but in moments. It is the last bottle of wine that you have just uncorked but do not have time to drink. It is the kiss that you do not have time to share, before she walks out of your life. It is the raft of second chance for them, and the twenty-three-hour days for us.”
― Ta-Nehisi Coates: Between The World And Me
These images are from an ongoing work, entitled The Last Days of Summer, which explores the intersection of Black Britishness, class and masculinity and the ways it has defined the lives of those I photographed between 2008 and the present day.
The images here, swim in a sea and are taken by its current. A white sea of historical representations of Black men, that more often than not, has damned them, rather than praised. As such, I am intrigued by the way my images will be manifested differently by both the Black and white gaze.
Beginning in 2008 as an observation of a group of young men in Handsworth. 8 years later, in 2016, at the tail end of what might be referred to as their youth, the documentation began again to observe how their collective masculinity manifested itself within the boundaries of space and time. As the work progressed, this concept of the end of a chapter mirrored a confrontation with change in the wider society of Britain.
I had believed these men were exiting their acceptance as young people, yet I realized that they were also exiting an acceptance of being seen as British citizens. Especially for those whose Brexit ‘leave’ vote was steeped in a desire for a monocultural Britain found within a renewed commitment to branding Britain as historically white.
To conclude, this work, the second chapter in a trilogy exploring migration between Jamaica and the UK, represents a personal and societal grappling with change. Change which manifests itself as one that increasingly excludes these individual Black men from Britishness.
From austerity to a post-Brexit world, these Black men live at the end of a dream. A dream which brought their grandparents to Britain.
A dream which is now over.