The Testament Project, Volume II, 2016
Edited by Jon Masino
Last Updated: July 29, 2016
The Testament Project is an exploration and re-conception of the contemporary black experience in America. More often than not, black people are portrayed in the extreme—either as very rich or very poor, they are demonized, infantilized, ridiculed, idolized or hyper-sexualized; and within the art canon there is a noticeable scarcity of black representation.
In these glowing portraits, control of the colored lighting is given to my subjects, in order to create a space that is participatory and empowered. By including subjects in the creation of the scene and the altering of color, I seek to create photographs that portray individuality in addition to their blackness.
If you would like to submit your story, please contact our email address with the subject line: Testament. You will be anonymous if you'd like, and please include your current age, your profession and your age at the time of the story. Depending on where you’re located, we’ll figure out the best way to present your testimony. Thank you.
JANUARY 22, 2015
Testimony from a 17 year old in the Midwest:
Last summer when I was 16, I was walking home from a restaurant downtown. It was 7:30 p.m. and my curfew was at 8:00, so to save time I cut through a local park. In the parking lot there was a cop car. The park is where a lot of homeless people live, so there is always a cop nearby. I paid him no attention.
When I got out of the parking lot, the cop car started following me. I have been stalked by cops and security guards before, so I didn’t feel threatened. Plus I was only a couple blocks away from home.
The car followed me until I was right in front of my house. I didn’t have my keys on me, so I had to go in through the backdoor. The only way to do this is to walk down the driveway and pass through the back yard.
I’m walking down my own driveway when the cop gets out he car and shouts, “Stop!”
I stopped and waited for him to come and talk to me. He says, “Where are you going, son?”
I say, “I’m going home, sir.”
“Where is that?” He asks.
“Here,” I say, pointing to my house.
He frowns, clearly not believing me. My parents are very successful, so we live in a nice house in a historical neighborhood. It’s not a mansion, but apparently it was too nice for me to live there.
“You do understand breaking and entering is a crime.”
“Yes, sir.” I say.
“And you know lying to an officer is against the law.”
“So for the last time, where do you live?”
Again, I point towards my house.
The cop is clearly upset at this point. He grabs me, and pulls me towards the front door.
“Alright,” he says, “I’m going to knock on this door, and if the person who comes out doesn’t recognize you, you’re in big trouble.”
He knocks on the door, and my little sister comes out. She says hi, and asks me what’s going on.
The cop is very surprised and seems embarrassed. I cover for him and tell my sister that he gave me a ride. My sister, satisfied with my answer, walks away to go watch TV.
The cop apologizes and says, “Sorry, son, you just didn’t look like you belonged here.”