EJ Brown is taking a stand against racially-charged stereotypes.
The 25-year-old artist recently created a powerful photo series called The Mugshot Series in an effort to debunk typical stereotypes associated with black males. He focuses on challenging the assumption “blackness” is somehow synonymous with danger and violence.
Part of a larger art project called the Perception of Complexion, the photos in The Mugshot Series feature black male graduates holding placards similar to the ones criminals hold in mugshots.
The subjects' college majors, names and graduation dates are printed on the placards.
Speaking of his series, Brown said,
We're not condoning violence, gang activity or criminality, we're just bringing to light these negative perceptions and how we feel about them. I'm about spreading peace, love and understanding.
His utmost goal, he says, is to encourage fellow African Americans to tell their own stories, break the mold and not let society's expectations hold them back.
One of his subjects, Keilynn Burkes, praised the series. He told the Huffington Post,
The portrayal of young black men in society is not a positive picture. Just because a person is African-American does not mean we are hoodlums or individuals involved in crime.
The reaction to Brown's empowering series is overwhelmingly positive; many describe the project as “liberating.”
Check out some of the photos from the series below and head to Brown's blog to learn more.