We The People
We The People: The Citizens of NYCHA in Pictures + Words is a collaboration between journalist Rico Washington and photographer Shino Yanagawa that, via interviews and images, seeks to debunk the myths around the people who live in the New York City Housing Authority’s buildings.
The exhibit will be shown at the Gordon A. Parks Gallery, on the ground floor of the School of New Resources John Cardinal O’Connor Campus in the South Bronx, from February 23 to May 5.
Over the course of 12 months, the two collected stories and images through intimate interviews with former and current residents of New York City’s various housing projects. This exhibition includes several photographs, printed interview excerpts, and short-form essays.
Inspired by the documentary works of Jacob Riis, Gordon Parks, Ruiko Yoshida, Timothy Greenfield-Sanders, and Elvis Mitchell, Washington and Yanagawa explored the concept of second-class citizenship as applied to blacks and Latinos residing in New York City’s Housing Authority sites.
We The People interviews with and photographs of such notable former NYCHA residents as author, filmmaker, and cultural critic Nelson George; lauded photographer Jamel Shabazz; Young Lords co-founder, original Last Poets member and Emmy award-winning news reporter Felipe Luciano; venerable jazz musician and recording artist Olu Dara; author and Emmy award-winning filmmaker Dennis Watlington; hip-hop artist and music industry CEO Buckshot; hip-hop icon Afrika Bambaataa, and many more.
The objective of We The People is not to elicit pity or sympathy, according to the artists, “but to challenge popular thought concerning these neighborhoods. We The People is a testament to those who have weathered the storms from urban blight to urban renewal. Through these collected stories, a genuine document of the marginalized and the maligned emerges.”