Everybody Street

Everybody street
     Everybody is street
          Every body is a street body
It’s a documentary
     About street photography
     In New York City
A dozen, maybe 15, photographers
     Talking about what they do
They are all white
     But they street?
Jamel Shabazz is there
     Only Black man
     He street
     For real
But everybody street?
     Nah
A dozen white photographers talk
     Take pictures
     Show body of work
Only white people can get away with
     Taking random ass photos
     Of people
          And not have the shit kicked out of them
They street
     So they take a lot of photos
     Of people of color
          Of course
     They take photos of every body
          Especially everybody street
               Which means, everybody Brown/Black/Poor/
                 Homeless/Junkie/Criminal/Bloodied
They street and stay taking photos
     Of us, we can’t take photos of them
     They take our photo because
          We street
          We fresh
          We exotic
          We fierce
          We colorful
          We wild
          We raw
          We street
But everybody street
They take our photos and say
     “You gonna die from that life,
    But look, someday someone gonna be in a bookstore
               And see my book with your photo, and
               You live on.”
Everybody street
You know I know there are Black and Brown 
     street photographers
          Because everybody street
                Like me
I don’t take photos of people though
     I can’t stand to exploit people for a shot
          And no explaining why I should make money
          From a photo they never consented to
               And get nothing for
                    Just cuz they street
Maybe other POC don’t get in these documentaries
     Because they too street
          But they ask permission
               Respect privacy
     Is that street?
White people take my photo on the street
     Art Prize bring out the gawkers in droves
          Everyone got cell phone camera too
White people with big lenses and gear
     Snap photo from across street 
          Like I don’t see them standing there, waiting
               And I can’t get away all the time
   But I try to shift and give less interesting view
White people stand close to me and think I won’t hear 
     The shutter click
          Look at me like I just said I eat babies
               When I glare at them for that photo
     They was close enough to ask me for
          But I guess that ain’t street
And everybody street
     Maybe except me
I be too scared to even say anything sometimes
     Not street
I be wanting to break cameras and yell
     But only white men get to do that shit
Sean Penn more street
     Than me
Every body street
      My body street
    Worthy of a photo I don’t know what gallery or book 
          or magazine or blog
               I might see it in or on someday
Maybe I set fire to that gallery or book or 
          magazine publisher
     Cuz even I street
I can be street
  If a white woman photographing cops to humanize them
    Photographing beaten, being choked “malefactor”
               As they are arrested
          Talking about how important the police are
     Is street
          Maybe I still more street
Cuz everybody street
     Like everybody
          White bodies street
          White eyes street
          White lens street
     Can’t I be street
Take photos of these liberal progressive artistic types
     Showing they ain’t nothing street
Every body street
     Bodies
     Black bodies
     Brown bodies
     Crip bodies
     Queer bodies
     Poor bodies
     Sick bodies
     Shot bodies
          Street bodies
               So everybody can call themselves
                    Street
Talking about the risk they took
     To get a shot
          The risk might be
               I punch you in the face
You ain’t street
You just a thief

 

Poet’s Statement: I realize this may seem like a stretch for our April theme of “Resurrection: Coming Back Stronger Than Before”. I ask you to stretch your conceptions and imaginations. This poem is about how I, myself, as an artist come back stronger, with new work, in response to all the ways I am marginalized from the world of art and photography, as a Queer, Crip/Chronically Ill, Indigenous/Black artist, photographer, and poet. For further context, this is a reaction to a profoundly racist documentary about street photographers in NYC, Everybody Street, that is currently available on Netflix.

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artist, art historian, culture critic, editor, healer, poet, writer, a force of nature

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