The Starks

COVID-19 was mentally draining for everyone in my household. My dad is a first responder and my mom continues teaching kids remotely. My brother Masaai is an eight-year-old boy whose world has been turned upside down because of the life-changing effects that have followed the virus. He is carefree and innocent in a world far from that. I had to help out in the house way more and help my brother with his homework or play with him outside. Even though times like these are very tough, many of my photos capture days where we got closer and had fun throughout this pandemic. In my photographs, he looks off into the distance wondering about what is to come next. His curiosity made him want to see more. He knows he can't because of restrictions. The world today is rapidly changing, but he enjoys the little things about life, like relaxing in the sun with less focus on the scary factors of life. 

 My brother lying on the grass, full of curiosity. 

 My Front Liners

My family has become closer during quarantine. This closeness brought a reality check to a black family. The more we talk about injustices that we see on TV, we try to stay positive. Everyday on CNN and in the Washington Post and the New York Times, there are new headlines of a black person dying because of a system that is broken. Americans want to change that. We as the people who live in America want all lives to matter, but that is not going to happen until my black life matters too.

My father and grandma sitting on a bench 6 feet apart. 

A low angle shot of my feet and a reflection on the wall coming from my window. 

 My family and I have a picnic in a park in the Bronx every Friday.

Me, enjoying a sunny day in a park in the Bronx. 

My brother and my dog. 

An empty parking lot on 161st Street and Grand Concourse in the Bronx. 2020 


Protesters in front of Yankee Stadium chanting “No justice, no peace.”

The modern day police system came from slave patrol. These people were given the task of capturing and killing runaway slaves. Now that slavery has ended, the slave patrol has morphed into what we know as the police force. The same thing is done when innocent black people are killed because of the color of their skin.

When George Floyd, who is a father, son, and boyfriend, was shot by the police, it was because of a corrupt system that was made to kill black people. Those who protest his death prove that people care for black lives, that we matter. 

“It’s really a simple question: ‘Am I going to let a disease kill me or am I going to let the system — the police?' he said. “And if something is going to take me out when I don’t have a job, which one do I prefer? Folks who don’t have much else to lose — they understand that this system isn’t built for black people. And that’s why people are in the streets.”
- Mike Griffin, a black community organizer in Minneapolis.

My cat looks out of my bedroom window. 

My brother’s yellow jacket makes him feel content. 

My brother says that he is fine, but I know he is not. Everyday I notice how he is emotionally responding to the injustices toward black people in America. He still enjoys playing video games, FaceTiming his friends and the little walk we take with our dog. But deep down inside, his spirit is being crushed with the hard truth that because of his skin color, he will always feel unsafe. 

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