Winner, First Place and People's Choice
This image is one of many taken for “Performing color: Participatory photo and community based research in a modern U.S. circus” to represent the experiences of POC in Gamma Phi Circus. As a black feminist researcher, I am primarily concerned with giving my subjects control over telling their own stories; they become equal partners in the collection, processing, and representation of our data. This particular image is about inclusion. It is about our struggle to be included in white-dominated spaces, where our needs or culture are not easily understood. It’s also about moments of radical inclusion that we wish were more normal, like when a white circus member learns to do our hair in a special style for a show. The intimacy and trust depicted here contrasts heavily with the norm of people gawking or touching without permission. We want to show that it doesn’t have to be “us vs them”— we’ve seen people grow, and we hope others will choose to grow, too. This is the story of people learning, across racial lines, how to treat each other. It’s not always about color— we hold as tightly to our allies as we do to each other.