Humanist/Agency VII Photog@ruddyroye

National Geographic, TIME and New York Times Contributor. Fujifilm X-Photographer.

August 18, 2018
Rediscovering Roots

Block parties.
I use to think that they were mostly about the community and when I found out they weren’t, I stopped going to them.
Today I went by Cafe Louverture to spend some time with my friends Joan and Anthony only to find myself reassessing my notion of community.
First stop, my notions were that... they were MY definition and not those of the populous. I believe at the time that I was trying to impose my Caribbean view of community on these block parties. So today while I sat with a Haitian concoction of ginger, lime, turmeric and rum, oh yeah there was some macaroni and fish with it, I overheard a little girl walk into the cafe and said,
“Mr Anthony, can I get a cup of water.”
I cannot tell you what exactly it was that focused her voice into my head but after she left, I started to look outside to see all the faces that had congregated outside the establishment and a smile rose over my face like dawn opening the curtains on a new day.
There were people from all aspects of life touching and smiling and engaged in sweet dialogue.
Outside I recognized that all these families had attended this little soirée because both Anthony and his wife had built this space with standards that reflected similar values of all who attended — the hallmark of what it feels like to be a part of a community. So I drained my rum and, (what did I say was in it again?) and I pulled out my camera and began photographing some of the faces I recognized who have being in my neighborhood for over 15 years. Wish I had started earlier.
@fujifilmx_us @magdalinedavis


Someone asked me recently how I would describe myself and I answered,
“I am a dad.”
It is so sweet to know that he feels it and expresses it so openly. ・・・
What it is to be a dad?
Well my Dad supports, encourage,and give me confidence. He supports me in my football, my music, and my free time. Recently Im learning how to wheelie a bike and he just said try to over lift the bike and I did just that and I got the bike up and I wheelied. Also he set me up for training the other day and told me to do whatever and I did the whatever and the whatever worked just like that. So thanks to my dad for just being in my life and being there to take time to help me with my whatever.
#fujix100f @fujifilmx_us


August 13, 2018
Amidst Unite the Right Dream

Sixty years ago Belgium caged close to three hundred Congolese residents in a live display at the 1958 World Fair. Even in the midst of a colonization that wiped out close to 10 millions Congolese lives, a live display of black men, women and children in “native conditions” laid on for the education and amusement of white Europeans was erected in Brussels.
It was a spectacle to say the least and the world’s last “human zoo”. I arrived at the park to protestors penned in by barricades and walls of officers on bicycles and horseback.
I paced back and forth Lafayette Square park, squeezing over fences and ducking elaborate placards all saying the same thing. The pageantry of cardboard cut outs were punctuated by songs and dances, a violinist strummed Michael Jackson’s “Beat It,” against a lamppost while a uniformed troupe stopped to perform the electric slide, in the middle of the street. The customary hustlers were out in their usual force. “Pins, t-shirt’s, raincoats and umbrellas” echoed above the ritualistic chant of “whose streets??? our streets!!!” and “Black - Lives - Matter!!!”
It felt like a pantomime. All the players were in attendance singing and chanting except for the “Alt Right, Nazi and Trump” supporters. I walked over to Sharif Shafi, who was holding onto an American flag he said he had been holding onto for months. In his many interviews he explained to his audience that he attended the march to highlight and educate the protestors on all the ills that had been done in the name of the flag including the killing of black men and women all around America. “This flag is my dog,” he kept repeating.
Are these “marches” working? Is the message getting out? It seems to me that as black folks live and die through their daily protests, the spectacle that is the “march” becomes more about posturing, grandstanding, performing, hamming and pretending to truly care about Black Lives.
#fujifilmxt2 @fujifilmx_us #whenlivingisaprotest


August 9, 2018

Few people know my story.
Before being ripped out of college, I was a writing student looking at a career as a teacher, maybe a college professor somewhere in my future.
I wanted to “krik and krak.” As a bartender slash Councilor in Washington DC, I met this arrogant Argentine who tolerated the arrogance of a young Jamaican.
Daniel and I met on a football field after both our ladies had walked out of our lives.
He first put the keys of photography in my hands then I saw art in all its forms through his mind. He whittled away my arrogance down to ignorance with poetry and simple anecdotes that he dashed around like spices as if to marinating my intelligence - or was he mentoring this “know it all” into an empathetic human.
We met on off days to share stories while sipping from two special glasses neatly filled halfway with Grand Marnier or red wine.
I washed away all memories of her as we became friends.
I chuckle when I remember him threatening me that our friendship was in jeopardy if I did not go to see Schiele’s exhibition on the Mall. Each day he sharpened my wit with authors like Nikolai Gogol, Jorge Luis Borges, and Pablo Neruda, force feeding me with a heavy dose of Mercedes Sosa, Eros Ramazzotti, Cesario Evora and My favourite, Astor Piazzolla. After twenty five years I believe his hands have helped to sculpt this charcoal soul of mine.
So I was surprised when I saw him this past week and he had given up listening to music, and photography, and was now a full time father and fisherman. “I just think we go from one intersection to the next looking for who we are going to be in life. This is my best self. I have always been doing this, just in different ways. Everything I was then has prepared me for this awesome role as husband, father and caretaker of this house. I love taking care of my home. This is my passion.” He spoke in a crystal clear tone that mirrored his nudge for me to start taking images of our climate changing - perpetually teaching.
And just like that, I found myself at another intersection, pondering my role as a photographer versus my role as a father, weighing their importance in the grand scheme of things.


August 7, 2018
Happy birthday Burning Spear

When he was around five, half the age he is today I used to tell people that my older son #Mosijahroye is my heart and this one here #iyeoshujahroye is my spear.
He was supposed to come into the world 08/08/08, but an over eager doctor pierced his amniotic sac and he was born a day early. I was angry, but I was and still reminded that I was not the one feeling the pain - so I swallow my expectations with a wry smile.
He is every bit the wonder he was made to be. The hours did not rob him of that.
He has lived up to my prophecy. He is witty, wise, scathing and sharp as a tack. He is logical, calculating and focused, traits he did not get from me. He loves to dance and i can see the rhythms of the world in his eyes and moving through his skin.
He is also full of fyah and has a passion unbridled by all the perils and hubris we adults call knowledge, - he ignores all the apprehensions and perceptions that swirls around him everyday, surrendering only to his true feelings.
Around three months ago a few more petals opened and he started to express himself in a way that was chattier and way more mature than earlier in the year. I see his tiny identity crowned and pushing through.
Today my young one turns ten, and the more he surprises me the more i see him, charging into the world like the Tikur Anbessa he is. He is joy. He makes my death face smile.
He is that warrior.
#iyeoshujahroye #fujifilmxpro2 @fujifilmx_us


August 6, 2018
Free City “There is a story on the television about Liberty City every day, and most times it is not good,” one Floridian told me as I drove around downtown Miami. After spending five days on the West Palm beaches I was ready to explore the Miami neighborhood that was home to one of the largest concentrations of African Americans in South Florida. I only had four hours, visiting cousins in Coral Springs.
My first question as I drove down 36th street, why can’t South Florida look like West Palm beach?
What is stopping the State from making that happen? Is it because some of the money would be spent on immigrants? Remember Trump carried Florida.
As I drove around I kept asking myself, is this what an “infestation” looks like? and is this how the powers that be deal with it?
After all, the leader of the free world did say that it was the Democrats fault - the increase in undocumented immigrants.
“They don’t care about crime and want illegal immigrants, no matter how bad they may be, to pour into and infest our country, like MS-13,” he wrote, referencing a violent criminal gang based in Central America.
Until 1937, the area we now call Liberty City was mostly undeveloped land owned by whites. The word “liberty” was often attached to black communities at the time, as were presidents’ last names – a way to instill pride in the community. By the 1950s Black families were moving in and building up their community. But then, three things happened: integration, the crack epidemic, and a burst of absentee landlords. And then there was that riot. Losses totaled over $100 million.
People could not understand why black people were burning down their neighborhood. “It was not their neighborhood — they never owned the land or the buildings or the businesses,” one scholar said.
Today the lack of patronage from other parts of Miami has continued to stifle the growth of Liberty City. What does it do to a man, a child, a mother, a family’s psyche to live in a place where they feel that they are forgotten?
#libertycity #fujifilmxpro2 @fujifilmx_us


August 4, 2018
At loggerheads in West Palm
(With extracts from “Ode to the Sea” by Pablo Neruda.

I am still angry.
Three days later and I am walking on the nests of the Loggerhead turtles.
Three days ago, I had my first real Twitter war and the wounds and scars are still fresh. I took my first vacation in four years and followed my family to visit my friend Daniel who handed me my first lesson in photography.
In West Palm beach everything moves to the sound of empty. The aged streets, hotel parking lot, CVS, movie theatre, and beach all stand in a hush. The beautifully manicured hedges and grass rustles slowly to the sound of stillness.
With my mind filled with the words of Brutus, Judas Iscariot, and Guy Fawkes, I walked into the almost abandoned beach to sit with Neruda.
“Here surrounding the island,
There΄s sea. But what sea?
It΄s always overflowing. Says yes,
Then no, Then no again, And no, Says yes In blue, In sea spray
Raging, Says no, And no again. It can΄t be still.
It stammers, ... My name is sea.”
I wanted to be distant. I did not want to discern red from blue state.
I wanted to be cold and angry and hateful. And so I casted my lens to catch images that were distant at first. I walked 3 miles spewing more fumes on the dry sand than the rushing waters that slapped the stubborn shore. But as I passed beachgoers, the I am - resurfaced.
“Oh Sea, This is your name.
Oh comrade ocean, Don΄t waste time, Or water, Getting so upset,”
And so these ten images have to be viewed while listening to this poem. It’s me expunging the feelings of hate from my skin. I realized that to be, I have to be true to who I am - regardless of all the pollution I read or see on my walk.
#floridaportraits #fujifilmxpro2 @fujifilmx_us


July 7, 2018
Morning Pick me Up

Hunter was just standing in the parking lot, listening to Meek Mill on Pandora while sipping on a cold beer. It was only 9:15am. (Not judging). He was about to light a cigarette when I walked up to him and asked to take his photograph. His face was not unlike the faces I have seen here in passing in Youngstown Ohio.
Hunter’s eyes were squinted mostly, as if to shade himself from the dark, smog of despondency.
More than half of Youngstown residents have left in the last 40 years, 50,000 of them fleeing between 2010 and 2012. Around fifty years ago, young men in places like Youngstown worked in factories of heavy industry. Youngstown was named for John Young, who established the town's first mills.
Youngstown has seen the loss of 50,000 steel industry jobs at Youngstown Sheet & Tube in 1977, known here as "Black Monday." The closure of the factories has left a gaping economic hole that part-time, low-wage work like Bowman's job in the guitar shop can never fill. Youngstown's loss of 60 percent of its population since the 1970s makes it America's fastest-shrinking city; the lowest average income of any town with more than 65,000 residents; with an unemployment rate that shot up at a 90-degree angle in 2009. Youngstown has one of the highest homicide rates in the country and violence is part of the landscape. Youngstown reminds me so much of the plight of Cairo, a story I recently finished for Mother Jones.
I am not here long. Unfortunately I am back on a plane bound for New York and Brooklyn in the morning. I do appreciate how some images continue the familiar thread that I pull from city to city.
And so it unravels.
#onassignment #espn #fujifilmxh1 @fujifilmx_us


July 4, 2018
We Are Not Free.
Are the great principles of political freedom and of natural justice, embodied in that Declaration of Independence, extended to us?
Your high independence only reveals the immeasurable distance between us. The blessings in which you this day rejoice are not enjoyed in common. The rich inheritance of justice, liberty, prosperity, and independence bequeathed by your fathers is shared by you, not by me. The sunlight that brought life and healing to you has brought stripes and death to me.” Fredrick Douglas.
I started this day slow to think, and even slower to move. I refused to leave my block today and so images were slow to come to me.
My day started watching this old man who called himself a “prophet” walk around on this Independence Day looking for bottles. He needed the money for food he said. I decided to just sit on my stoop and watch people dressed in their blues and reds on white pass by. On my way from getting some melon, a man asked me to help him get some napkins as he had defecated on himself.
Later on in the night, I watched as my sons joined our neighbours for a block firecracker party. At the height of the celebration, an unmarked police car rolled up dragged one young man standing in the sidewalk off to jail as if he was a criminal. That last sentence was not a gross exaggeration. The police force literally pulled up and charged at two young men without warning.
Again - it made me think. Why do we allow these white men to police our neighbourhood?
Then Baldwin cames to mind, “I love America more than any other country in this world, and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually.”
James Baldwin.
#whenlivingisaprotest #independenceday #july4th #fujifilmx100f @fujifilmx_us


June 19, 2018
Movement of Jah People
(Outtake #2)

Someone once told me it wasn’t wise to continually beat a dead horse and the saying stuck with me. However, as I travel around America, it has become apparent that it is not the dead horse that is the problem. The problem I find is that no one cares about what is killing it.
Mother Jones recently sent me to Cairo Illinois to photograph the gradual emptying of homes, streets, corner stores, restaurants, schools and a community’s hopes in this small town shoved up against the Mississippi River.
If you look for tumble weeds you will find them. But Cairo also has a rich history of racial strife led by men like John Lewis, which some residents told me is one of the reason why investments have halted to an almost full stop in the small Illinois town.
One of the housing projects which I photographed that housed over 103 families at one time now barely has a quarter of that number.
The US Department of Housing and development headed by Ben Carson has been handing out vouchers for the families to uproot and pack up their memories, lives and accouchements with a one way ticket to leave Cairo.
Depending on who you speak to there are conspiracy theories abound as to why the people are being “pushed out” of their town. But don’t take my word for it. There is a whole article written by Tim Murphy on the subject in this month’s issue of Mother Jones Magazine.
#whenlivingisaprotest #fujifilmgfx50s @fujifilmx_us


June 17, 2018
We Are Present (The Outtakes)

Ruddy Roye’s photographs capture the “disparate range of relationships between fathers and sons.” They reflect a seismic shift in domestic arrangements as the reality (and precarious nature) of work has, in many ways, upended traditional gender roles. “Because of the nature of their jobs, black men find themselves playing a major role in their sons lives.  They are not just breadwinners. They are nurturers too,” Roye said.
But the persistence of the stereotype of black fathers sheds light on the context within which we must raise our children—especially our sons. They will grow up and we must raise them in a world that has a host of assumptions about who they are and what they are capable of. As if raising children isn’t hard enough, we have to do so with the added burden of preparing them for a racist world. That fact alone often interrupts intimacies. It can make private, black spaces hard and, sometimes, appear unloving.
One photograph shows a Sheriff from Jackson, Mississippi with his son in a jail cell.  This father decided that words were not enough. He “had to show him the lessons he was trying to teach him.” He took his son to the morgue to see a bullet-ridden corpse, to the scene of a DUI accident, to the jailhouse—all to teach him the dangers of Jackson.
We comfort our sons when their hearts are broken.  Encourage them after a crushing defeat. Criticize their lack of effort.  Prod them to do better in school.  We are constantly urging them to dream big and that, if they are going to achieve their dreams, we tell them they will have to be twice as good and work twice as hard as everyone else,” extract from an article by Eddie S Glaude in a piece in this current @time magazine issue.
This story is not about exclusion, but a welcoming of a narrative that is either lost or ignored.
Thank you @time for allowing me the opportunity to tell this story.
#whenlivingisaprotest #onassignment #timemagazine #fujifilmgfx50s @time @fujifilmx_us


June 14, 2018

The gratitude I feel comes with a pinch of sweetness and a spoonful of reality. Life is not easy for some.
I just returned to New York from photographing a TIME Magazine assignment in five cities.
It is never what I think it is going to be. Maybe it is why I don’t have assignment dreams anymore.
Either the people you schedule to photograph suddenly have something to do, there was a shooting, so people decided to stay in, the space is too tight, there isn’t much light, or the rain is falling and so the shoot is a bust. Whatever the reasons, I guarantee you that anything that can go wrong will go wrong - I didn’t say it.
With the tight schedule I had, I didn’t roam the streets. In fact I stayed close to the hotel except for when I had to jump into an Uber and race to the shoot.
I struggled in Baltimore to find people for my assignment. One woman said, “it is going to be challenge to find that here.”
Oakland roared up to the front line as if possessed by the spirit of a panther. People came forward ready.
Jackson Mississippi unveiled the forgiving hearts of its residents and showed off its sultry nightlife.
Chicago sacrificed two lives before I landed and changed my entire plan.
Louisville and Charles Town whispered cautiously about it’s past, like petrified ghosts wafting down black alleyways. They offered up stories no one wants to talk about anymore.
Each city branded me with its own unique story - unpacking similar faces for me to encounter as I walked the sidewalks. My takeaway? You can’t assume to know a place because it is a “red state,” it is in the South, or because the news reported that it had the highest crime rates in the country. You have to sit, order a sweet tea, and decide to stay a while to hear the tiny voice beating off the boarded up buildings and the newly renovated condos both reflecting the contentious struggles of each city.
If you sip slow enough, you will eventually hear it, the undertones of a beleaguered city. Listen - you will hear, “We are still here.”
Abstract from the assignment will be on the newsstands this weekend @time
#fujifilmx100f @fujifilmx_us