“The wounded child inside many males is a boy who, when he first spoke his truths, was silenced by paternal sadism, by a patriarchal world that did not want him to claim his true feelings. The wounded child inside many females is a girl who was taught from early childhood that she must become something other than herself, deny her true feelings, in order to attract and please others. When men and women punish each other for truth telling, we reinforce the notion that lies are better. To be loving we willingly hear the other’s truth, and most important, we affirm the value of truth telling. Lies may make people feel better, but they do not help them to know love.” - bell hooks
Black Men of the North Shore (BMNS) at its core, is about healing and love. These photos and stories are a celebration and documentation of the personal narrative, of self-definition and autonomy. This is a love story and the celebration of love. It is an offering of “I see you” and “I honor you”.
I am a Black woman, single mother, artist, and a host of other identities that make my entry point into this conversation not easily accomplished, nor casually considered. At the start of this project, I was in a tension filled space with the men in my life. My father, the father of my child, my lover, and largely, men on a whole. Over the years of this project, I mothered my child, changed jobs, and moved boroughs. In the words of Hypolita, “somehow in all of this I found my name”. It is this tension space that has fueled my sputters and starts - When and where I enter. Unexpectedly, these conversations captured and intrigued me, as did all who participated in this project. Through the eyes of these complex Black men, the borough, too, captured my heart.
This project is not complete, and will never be because Black men have forever been here, and will forever be. The Black Family has been here. The Black Mother has been here, supreme to all. In order to dive into this work, I honestly had to sit still. In the moments where I felt nothing was happening, it always was. My life had been so matriarch focused - I come from great women. I come from strong women. I come from women that have spun gold, from nothing. Black men, though, pushed me to face my implicit biases.
Over the span of this project, the world has stopped, and burned and sprouted. We cried for Black lives murdered by state violence, again. And again. We grew weary and inspired. We raised our voices and our experiences. Let this project stand as an offering to the continued telling of Black stories and the complexity of Black lives.
-Morgan Cousins edited by Mike Williams
-all photographs by Morgan Cousins