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In All Ways Human is a visual storytelling and narrative change campaign committed to spreading the simple and profound truth about Black boys, men, and families:

We are always and in all ways human and deserving of dignity, safety, care, and opportunity.

The Centering Black Voices Research Lab, founded and directed by Dr. Jocelyn R. Smith Lee, Assistant Professor of Human Development and Family Studies at UNC Greensboro, together with the Historic East Baltimore Community Action Coalition (HEBCAC) Youth Opportunity Center (YO!), Mr. Zizwe Allette, and Visual Artist and Educator Zun Lee, MD, MBA present: In All Ways Human.

Criminal. Violent. Animals. Predators. Angry. Lazy. Suspicious. Thugs.

Dehumanizing narratives about Black boys, men, and families have been spread for centuries in the United States and used to justify slavery, lynching, police violence, mass incarceration, and systemic divestment from Black neighborhoods. These racist myths shape the minds and behaviors of the public and the policies of lawmakers.

In All Ways Human is a photovoice and community engaged portrait project committed to spreading the simple and profound truth about Black boys, men, and families: We are always and in all ways, human. Whether a toddler or a teenager, young adult or young at heart, Black boys, men, and the families that nurture them are deserving of dignity, safety, care, and opportunity. Opportunities to dream, to thrive, to make mistakes, to grow, to live, to heal, to experience joy, to love and be loved, to exist free of racial fear, and to be seen, respected and fully afforded the rights of a human being.

Using portraits, our storytelling and narrative change campaign disrupts the dehumanizing narrative of Black male criminality by replacing mugshot images the media widely circulates with images that foreground the humanity, resilience, and value of intergenerational Black boys and men in Baltimore. In All Ways Human.

We also seek to counter the visible and traumatic loss of Black life to police and community violence that captivates the media by amplifying portraits and stories that center Black boys and men in life, not death. By offering a platform for Black men to control the conversation about how they are seen, our project reclaims the humanity of Black boys and men. It invites all Baltimore residents to engage and embrace Black boys and men as their neighbors and challenges Baltimore decision-makers to prioritize the economic mobility, mental health, and care of Black boys, men, and their families in their work.

Rooted in East Baltimore and growing in Greensboro, Centering Black Voices is a community engagement program of research committed to affirming the humanity of Black boys, men, and families through trauma-informed praxis that prevents violence, promotes healing, and advances racial equity. In All Ways Human was born out of 10 years of community-engaged qualitative research by Jocelyn R. Smith Lee, Ph.D. which examines trauma, violence, grief, and healing among young Black men. The project team extends our deepest appreciation to our partners and funders. Most of all we thank our participants whose voices, stories, portraits, and lives make clear that Black, boys, and men are people to be embraced, not problems to be pushed out or punished. We are: In All Ways Human. Always.

Project Galleries

Disrupting dehumanizing narratives of Black boys, men, and families one portrait at a time.

Portraits and Stories

Baltimore
Exhibits

A Special Thanks to You

Dr. J and CBV extend our deepest appreciation to our partners HEBCAC YO! Baltimore (Mr. Z / Zizwe Allette Photography and Mrs. Liz Torrez Brown) and Visual Artist and Educator, Zun Lee.

Most of all we thank our participants whose voices, stories, portraits, and lives make clear that Black, boys and men are people to be embraced, not problems to be pushed out or punished. We are: In All Ways Human. Always.