Every Second of Every Day
This year, I photographed my family in moments of joy but also in times of distress. My mom is a single mother of six who was let go from her job when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Without the little financial aid we received from the government, our family would probably have become homeless. My mother has never really known peace. Sometimes she says she finds it in her children, but when I look closely at her face I can see the pain she's constantly going through. As I study the dark bags drooping under her eyes and the lack of color in her lips, I think about the stress she’s under to survive and care for her family. She grapples with the same stressors her mother, my grandma, experiences. They work as hard as they can, but it never feels like enough. For example, on my grandmother's birthday, my siblings and I went to visit her to celebrate. When we arrived, she seemed as if she wasn’t enjoying herself. I recognized the look of exhaustion and sadness- I see it in my mother every day.
During my time in quarantine, I began to understand and deeply feel the many issues that impact me, my family, and my community. My family is made up of poor brown immigrants. Some are educated, but most are not. These factors dictate our quality of life. I was born and raised in the Bronx. I love where I’m from but it gets depressing seeing needles on the floor, trash littering the streets, drug addicts, and homeless people everywhere. My community is over-policed and that makes me feel scared and enraged, but I know the conditions we’re in can change. My community cannot recover from this unless we rebel, unite, and imagine that there could be revolutionary change. We must believe that this isn’t the life we have to live.
In order to appreciate my work, you must understand the oppressive systems we live under which we must destroy: racial capitalism, the patriarchy, and white supremacy. These systems impact the lives of my family, like my incarcerated step-father and my grandpa, who are just two of the many victims of the US government's slow response to COVID-19. My grandpa’s blood is on their hands.
As I grappled with these realizations, witnessing moments of joy in the faces of my family members felt powerful. The moments I captured in spite of our circumstances are, for me, acts of resistance. Whether it’s my mom picking up my younger sister from daycare or my grandma and my cousin dancing freely, I found comfort in knowing that in those small instances, they were okay. I want to make those moments last forever.