IF A SELF PORTRAIT COULD CHANGE THE WORLD

My three wonderful daughters happen to come with different colors of hair, eyes and skin. In our family we celebrate the beauty of diversity as a power which unites us. This seems the most natural thing in the world and this conviction is what I also incorporate into my work: at the core of my work it’s all about the uniqueness, beauty and dignity of each and every individual. In my minimalistic photography I avoid anything which could possibly distract from the pure SELF. The mission of my brand “MLE EMPOWERING APPAREL” is to encourage people to be their true authentic self and think outside the box, follow their dreams and proclaim proudly what they stand for. Last but not least my social impact projects are driven exclusively by the inviolable dignity of every human being, regardless of nationality, skin color, sexual orientation or religion. 

One would think that this would be obvious 60 years after the end of the “Third Reich” in Europe, marked by its racial ideology, 40 years after the civil rights movement in the States and more than 20 years after the abolition of Apartheid in South Africa. But in reality we’re living in a world in which attacks on minorities, hate speeches against foreigners, discrimination against women, and closed borders to refugees seem to have reached a new and sad height.

But thank God that’s not all: at the same time it seems like the desire for peace, the outcry for justice and the celebration of diversity is so loud and powerful that it’s hard to ignore. 

Yes. There is a Donald Trump, who carries shamelessly racist and sexist, human despising messages into the world. But at the same time he has inspired musicians, actors, politicians, scientists and everyday people to stand up and raise their voices. The blogger Catherine Tidd even thanked him, as she never experienced as many discussions around racism and sexism with family and friends, as she did now, thanks to his candidacy. Probably our society needs phenomena like Trump, to debate and finally evolve from and move over the absurdity of racism and sexism and the discrimination of minorities. I don’t know. But I do know that the African children I was blessed to work with artistically during these past few months in Yaounde, Cameroon, certainly don’t need a Trump. For them, labels of skin colors and races simply don’t exist. For these kids the message which Prince Ea is distributing over the social media by reaching 15 million people and which has been shared almost 500.000 times, is obvious:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q0qD2K2RWkc

 

They speak about the black, the brown, and the white with no assumption of superiority one over another. When I ask these kids why human beings come in different skin colors, I get the most surprising and creative answers. The most astonishing answer I got was from a five year old: on her self portrait she colored her face with all the colors of the rainbow. When I asked her why she had chosen those colors she replied with a big smile: “Because I am all those colors”.

Sometimes I think we just have to remind ourselves of what we had known very well as children:  that we’re not only unique individuals, the same as anybody around us, regardless of the color of our skin, but even more that we carry all the colors of the rainbow inside of us. This would make some of the recent debates obsolete. Anyone still in doubt should be easily convinced by this video, in which prominent scientists provide the evidence to back my students up:  

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fw7FhU-G1_Q


 

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