Photography

During my graduate studies at Purdue, I have been fortunate to travel to a number of different cities and countries. While I was in each of these places, I paid close attention to how residents and citizens of color lived. Below, I have documented, through photography, the housing stories of residents I met in each of these cities and countries. I hope these pictures provide a more nuanced perspective of how African-descended people live in other parts of the world. More pictures still to be added.


san juan & loizo, puerto rico

 

A family sits outside enjoying the breeze in the middle of the day as we pass by to tour a drum-making site near their home in San Juan, Puerto Rico. October 2011.

 
 
 

A woman sits in the door frame of her home as we pass by in San Juan, Puerto Rico. I was struck by the lack of windows, especially on a sunny island like Puerto Rico. October 2011.

 
 

The Ayallah family is one of Puerto Rico’s most famous families because of their influence on Bomba (the Bomba is a Puerto Rican traditional dance). To visit them, we took the 45 minute trip from San Juan to Loiza, which is the historically Black part of Puerto Rico. The Ayallah’s are known for their African-influenced Bomba dance style, as opposed to the Cepeda family which has a more Spanish-influenced Bomba style and is more choreographed (Youtube both of them!). The African version of Bomba has a lot more freestyling and is way more hyped! While we were there, I got an opportunity to play the drums and being the daring person I am, I asked if I could go inside their home. To my surprise, they told me yes and guided me inside. Because of the language barrier, I couldn’t converse with them as well as I wanted to and I didn’t take any pictures while inside for fear of being rude but on the walls were pictures of their grandparents and great grandparents who were great people in Puerto Rican history. The home was old, small, and lived in, and there was color everywhere. It reminded me of my own grandmother's home back in South Carolina. One thing I love about Puerto Rico and many other islands is how colorful the buildings and homes are, both on the inside and outside. In the Ayallah home, you could tell there was so much history there and so many people who had passed through those walls. Now, one of those people includes me. October 2011.

 
 

Detroit, MIchigan

 

Urban garden in a neighborhood in downtown Detroit that had been deemed a food desert (meaning no place to buy fresh produce). October 2012.

 
 

Ghana, West africa

 

A young boy outside of his home, near one of the sites of the Ghanaian Slave Rivers. Slave Rivers were one of the last stops that Africans were brought to in order for them to have their “last bath” before boarding the slave ships for the long, fraught journey across the Atlantic Ocean to America. June 2013.

 
 

A hut village in Ghana, near Elmino I think. I took this picture aboard our shuttle bus as we were passing by. May 2013.

 
 

Ghanian village-side. June 2013.

 
 

         A shantytown village off of the coast of Ghana, near Kumasi I think. Louis Armstrong traces his ancestry to this village. June 2013.

 
 

I took this picture of an adjacent housing complex from my hotel room in Kumasi, Ghana. The hotel was literally right next to where the local residents lived. I wondered how they felt about that. June 2013.

 
 

Student dorms at the University of Ghana, Accra. If you look closely you will see where they hang their laundry out on the balcony to dry since they don’t have washing machines like we do in the U.S. Our tour guide told us that between 6-8 students stay in a single dorm room together. That’s amazing to think about when you realize that in the U.S. there are usually no more than 2 students rooming together and even that can be an issue. May 2013.