TIAA #12: “Superwoman”

Tosin’s Images & Anecdotes (TIAA) is my self-assigned photography challenge of 2022. The immediate objective is to select one image from my inventory (a cityscape, landscape, portrait, oddity, etc.) each week and write something about it. This “something” could be the story behind the photo, a triggered memory in relation to the photo, or simply a reaction or reflection based on the subject matter featured. The long-term objective is to encourage myself to add more content to “La Vue Atypique”, which celebrates its first decade in publication this year.

"Superwoman" / Accra, Ghana / April 18, 2017
“Superwoman” / Accra, Ghana / April 18, 2017

What can I say about the photograph above?

My most recent international voyage for my photography business, to my own personal amazement (or bewilderment), was five years ago this month. At the time, there was still an exhaustive list of other cities I had hoped to visit, explore, and photograph — but the year 2020 came and has altered so many plans that I actually do not know when the next trip abroad will be, or the destination. Canada is next door and I can drive there in less than three hours, so I do not consider a visit to Vancouver on the same tier as a visit to Dubai or Tokyo (two cities that I can only boast of having memorable layovers at their respective airports).

Also, call my perspective superstitious or pragmatic or perplexing, but I’m of the mindset that my own international travel must occur after Russia’s damnable invasion of Ukraine comes to a definitive end and some sense of geopolitical stability returns to Europe without this looming threat.

Oh yes, there’s also the fact that the coronavirus pandemic is very much still a “thing” regardless of how much people yearn to rewind to life as we knew it in January 2020. By the end of April or May, it looks like the United States will reach the unfathomable record of one million deaths since the pandemic commenced.

Alas, describing our collective reality in April 2017 today seems worthy of the the all too familiar preface in storytelling, “Once upon a time…”

This week’s feature image was captured in the city centre of Accra, the capital of Ghana. My sister was a resident of Accra for two years, and I took advantage of this literally a week or two before she relocated back to the States. She was a magnificent hostess and she helped me to obtain several of the images that exist on my official galleries of Accra and Cape Coast.

At the conclusion of one evening of photographing the city with a very talented professional photographer who was a friend of my sister, I came across this scene. A lady was patiently waiting at a crosswalk while traffic passed her. She was standing so still that I imagined she must have been deep in thought while she waited for the lights to change. Quietly observing from several feet behind her, I was intrigued. I’m certain I didn’t have time to set up my tripod so I must have steadied myself and my camera against a sturdy surface in order to capture this moment. I love how she stood motionless while the motion of the traffic and their lights traversed from left to right, including what must have been a green bus or truck. As a result, a collection of primary colors brightly contrasted each other in one image with the woman as the main anchor and human element.

I wondered about the woman who did not know she had contributed to my composition. Was she concluding a long day? Was she a mother heading home? Was she on her way to work or night school? Was she going to meet some friends? What had captured her attention so acutely that she stood so solemnly, temporarily pensive, and lost in thought?

I titled this week’s entry “Superwoman”. Why?

Currently in America — and for centuries — there has been an ugly bias against women, specifically black women, that continues to metastasize within our society. To be blunt, the precise words are misogyny and misogynoir. Both are diseases that permeate our cultures and need to be eradicated. Presently, the hearings (and disrespectful treatment by elected officials) for the potential confirmation of America’s first black female judge in the Supreme Court have only underscored the devaluation and discrimination against black women that so many people readily deny. It’s infuriating and overwhelming mostly on account of how obvious the malice truly is. Last Friday, I made a statement on my LinkedIn account that summarized my thoughts:

“Superwoman” is, in conclusion, a dedication to black women fighting for their own humanity in societies that ascribe them as subhuman and unworthy of dignity or respect.

I realize strides have been made, and there are concrete examples to show we are changing, but this is an issue that we need to move quickly to resolve — not another decade or century.

In my professional career outside of photography, the majority of my supervisors have been women. In my current day job, there are only two or three men, including myself, in a department of several women and managed by women. None of this has ever damaged my ego or made me succumb to stereotypes of how women operate as managers.

In my experience, I can never condone this hatred and discrimination. In light of this, I felt a need to make an entry in my year-long project about this debilitating matter.

You don’t have to be a woman to recognize and repudiate the disrespect of women. It must stop. I refuse to be silent or asphyxiated by fear. / January 2017

13 articles down for the TIAA challenge. 39 remain!

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