_____ While Black
My name is Semoria F. Mosley, and I am a 24-year-old Black woman from Columbia, S.C., who moved to San Diego in July 2019. Immediately after settling in, I noticed there weren’t many Black people in the area, at least compared to what I was used to. In Columbia, the Black population is 40%, compared to the 6% in San Diego.
This was a new experience for me.
For months I often thought: “Where are all the Black people? What is it like for them to live here?” I reached out through the Facebook group Black San Diego to scout community members open to sharing their daily experiences. In less than 24 hours, I got 300 responses. To highlight the kinds of stories traditional media can overlook or ignore, I sifted through the responses and selected seven people who could offer a glimpse into San Diego’s Black community. I picked these people to tap into the truth behind racism and discrimination as a routine experience.
Through film and digital photography, my project ____ while Black aims to offer a look at how these individuals have faced discrimination and exclusion — some of it subtle, some of it overt.
Here’s some perspective. Dylann Roof, the now-26-year-old racist terrorist who in 2015 murdered nine Black people at the oldest African Methodist Episcopal church in the South, is also from Columbia. He attended the same middle and high schools as I did. This, to me, is a stark reminder that those who identify as Black are subjected to biases and micro-aggressions that could manifest into radical behavior like his. While it almost always won’t be that extreme, it’s a reminder of what could be; radical racists and those who discriminate subtly both grow their mentality from the same prejudices.
In San Diego, many Black people can attest to dealing with subtle yet seemingly intentional discrimination from their White counterparts. The seven people in this project expressed how true that is as they talked about wanting to see the current wave of activism lead to positive changes in public policy and wanting more spaces committed to enhancing the Black experience.
If you don’t know where to start, start here and take this as an opportunity to listen first and respond second. Supporting BLM nationally but still discriminating against your local Black community is an issue. This is a call to action to move past performative solidarity. Here is what it’s like to ______ While Black.