When I heard the verdict for the Ferguson case, I asked my step son to pose for me. Kuvonn is Trinidadian American. I painted skin colored bullets wounds on him in the same spots as Michael Brown and took pictures as I was asking him questions and making comment such as: “He posed an immediate threat to the Police officer” “He was unarmed and stuffed with how many bullets, now?” “Tell me how you are feeling about this whole thing, Kuvonn”.
These portraits are the result. The serie is called “Unarmed and dead”. You can see them at www.stephaniecorne.com
These wounds are flesh color because the color of the skin is directly related to the fact that there was disproportionate use of force and a dead person as a result. To me, the Police officer shot a black and scary otherness. He didn’t shoot him once in the leg to stop him, assessed, shoot him in the other leg maybe, assessed again…He fired and fired and fired. This death, amongst many, impacts us as human beings who feel for the person and the family. American media doesn’t show dead bodies, on the ground, not even from far. The statements about incidents and facts are always very “clean”. I needed to make this shoot, with Kuvonn because “no more, no more” shouts Martin Luther King in my head some fifty years ago. This kid like so many others is d.e.a.d. He was an American kid. This killing hurts everybody in his family. It hurts the community, it hurts the daily investments we make at work, in our commute, at the store to keep a social cloth together. It damages our sense of meaning. And it killed the shooter spiritually as well by the way.
I am a Caucasian female who doesn’t really have high expectations of the Police force. I am sorry but I don’t. It is sad but true. I have heard too many stories after 20 years in NYC and USA to not be worried as a person, mother and step mother. Are they wonderful, men and women in the Police force? Absolutely. But the racist ones, the corrupted ones and the very powerful ones do such deadly damage that it is hard to not be scared of the Police as a whole as a result. There are horrible and scary people in the Police force. It is kind of the same cringe I get when I encounter men of power who offer to treat me with gifts and opportunities if I “treat” them first to get the job. In terms of level of humanity, it is a bit like not having much expectation of a mafia thug or mercenaries of finance. The smiles are the weapons of absolute despicable men. So yes, I am white and I am scared of some white people and for good reasons. There are bad people everywhere right? Yes, it is true and it seems to me that children who tend to be bullies as kids will gravitate towards jobs that entails using force against easy targets and reign in their departments and scare colleagues, family and people in general.
So if I feel this way, what is it like for a kid with a hoddie, who is guilty before proven otherwise for walking on the sidewalk at 7pm because he has dark skin? I can’t imagine but when listening or reading of the accounts: living in fear of something potentially very violent looming is not what I wish for the kids of America to live in. And let’s not forget Hispanic kids as well in there. I would like to say that the dignity of people mourning another senseless death of a kid with a promising future who was stuffed with bullets because he got scared of this guy pointing a gun at him and ran away is truly amazing. I sincerely don’t know how the mourning parents do it. To cry in silence, asking God to give them strength and appeasing the community asking for no retaliation of violence is amazing to me. Yes, I am amazed by the strength of the African American grand-parents, mothers and fathers raising their kids, day in and day out and seeing their only true wealth wacked in a millisecond by the fear or hatred of an untrained and over reacting Police officer. It pisses me off. It pisses me off that the wrong questions are pouring in the media. The irresponsible media who ask: are the white people feeling guilty? Well, personally: I am pissed and very sad, again and again. They are people before being any shade of skin color and they are d.e.a.d. They are our kids, they are our future. There are our Americans. And in most cases than not, these were murders.
What is the difference between Sean Bell, Amadou Diallo, Ouzmane Zongo, Oscar Grant, Trayvon Martin and Eric Gardner? A video recording which cannot be challenged and discussed ad vomitum. When the marches ensued and all people were chanting “I can’t breathe” there were strollers, white people from all social strata, all backgrounds. All New York was there. The media couldn’t say: ”O, look at these white thugs disrupting the peace of tax payers!!!”. It was peaceful, it was the right thing to do and it needs to keep happening until all murderers, no matter what title they may have, are brought to Justice.