what is the 20 Men project?
We see images of black males as criminals on billboards, hear descriptions of black male criminals on the radio, and see frequent images of police wrestling a black male into hand-cuffs on TV. Rarely do we see the same display for female criminals (of any race) or white male criminals.
At R.A.C.E, we prefer to share images of the majority of the black males, honest men working hard and going about their daily lives. The 20 Men Project is reintroducing black men and boys to the American public.
It is only through the truthful depiction of black males in our society that we will recognize that they are not a threat to our communities, our lives, and livelihoods. A powerful and positive change will occur when all Americans begin to see black males as regular folks, neighbors, friends, and productive members of their community.
Imagery plays a big role in how society responds to various events. The widely viewed video of George Floyd being murdered by a police officer mobilized a whole country to rise and demand justice and changes in policing. This powerful imagery presented a window into the lives of Americans of color. As a result, many white Americans heard the cries that black families have made for decades. Cries that begged for an end to police brutality and the lack of equity in our society.
The 20 Men Project is working to change the narrative that prevents the creation of a just and equitable society. The project presents an accurate depiction of the majority of black males. We seek to open hearts and minds to these wonderful members of our community, because there can be no justice and no equity until the lives of ALL Americans are valued equally.
With that goal in mind, we kick off the “20 Men” a project by R.A.C.E. We will share the stories of amazing black and brown males who live and thrive in Chester County yet have remained “unseen” by our community.
What else do you offer next to the traveling exhibition?
We are happy to speak at your school, library, hospital or organization about the project and the stories the men shared with us. We understand that you may have some reservations. Part of our journey is to have open and frank conversations about sensitive issues and difficult topics.
What the 20 men are saying
about this project
" I think that this is an important avenue to combat the pervasive negative stereotypes that innodate the public at large. Another reason that I participated in the project was to underscore the rich diversity that is the black community. For too long even black America has been infected with the racist view that all black people walk alike, talk and think alike. The richness and diversity of the African American community reflects and tracks the richness and diversity of this nation and must be embraced. "
"I joined this project because its mission is important and the first of its kind. I care about they way Black men are portrayed in the media and am very aware of how it impacts the way white people view us. In joining this project, I can change the narrative for those who are here and those who will come after me, and that is very important to me. A simple picture can change the way Black men are viewed in America."
"I decided to join this project because I'm looking forward to having the narrative and perception of black men change to highlight the reality of our world. News, TV, Movies, etc. tend to skew that perspective in a negative light and I wanted to be a part of an initiative aimed at correcting that view.
I had a great time working with Sandrien during my photoshoot. It was very easy to open up and discuss my experiences and I trust that that energy will come across in the final images. She was very good at guiding me on where and how to pose, help me relax, be more natural, and capture me in a great way. "
"I joined this project as a way to give back to the community. I love initiatives that focus on seeing people for who they are and eliminating stereotypes. It's important that we as a community continue to be welcoming and inclusive of all people regardless of their lived experiences and lived backgrounds. Truly understanding that people go beyond a color and are truly intricate beings helps us to challenge our own perceptions and biases."
"I think a negative stereotype can often exist about Black fathers. I love being a dad and I love being a Black dad so I would like to show that. I'm a black man AND also a father, husband, son. Basketball player and coach. Sneaker head and Love bike riding."
SANDRIEN DE BRUIJN-MESMAN
OWNER OF SANDRIEN B PHOTOGRAPHY
CO-FOUNDER AND PHOTOGRAPHER OF THE 20 MEN PROJECT
Sandrien is a multi-racial professional photographer. She and her family moved to Chester County, PA from the Netherlands.
Sandrien is an international award winning photographer who specializes in portrait photography. She loves to create photos that capture real emotions. Her goal for the 20 men project was to make everyone feel comfortable and confident. We discussed creative ideas for the portraits upfront and asked all the men how and where they would like to be photographed. Together, we created beautiful photos that capture their true personality and tell a story.
I can’t wait to ahare more about how we created these portraits.
Being black is only a part of my story,
it's not the whole story
Who is RAce group pa?
An apolitical and diverse group of Chester County residents.
Racial and cultural equity is a racial equity advocacy group that fosters the humanization of all Chester County residents through mutual respect, caring, and understanding.
They engage in dialogue that seeks to develop trust, empathy, and awareness of the negative impact of systemic racism.
They support advocacy opportunities to build an inclusive, resilient community, and embrace our diversity.
Social media: @racegrouppa
Co-founder and volunteer of the 20 men project shareS more about the project
"I am the Co-Chair of the R.A.C.E Advocacy group, and have been very interested in seeing the 20-Men project come to fruition due to the positive impact that I believe it's going to have on our community. Often, black men in our community are depicted in a negative light, and we've all heard the adage "a picture is worth more than a 1000 words".
Images of black men who are incarcerated or posted on billboards on highways create an unreasonable fear and enhance negative misconceptions in the community, thus propagating implicit bias towards this demographic and inhibiting equity and inclusion.
This project is designed to show men of color in their natural environment, and really highlights the daily lives of the majority of black men in our community. The desired impact is to push back on the negative imagery of black men that has historically been highlighted in the media, and bring to the forefront the humanity of the fathers, sons, grandparents, nephews, brothers.......and yes, neighbors in our community."
How will the portraits be shared?
When we started this project we had the following ideas on how to share the project with the community
- Exhibitions in public spaces, such as but not limited to: government buildings, schools, art galleries
- As a part of journalistic publications such as newspapers and magazines
- In educational lectures on racial stereotypes and harmful media-biases
Photos are also shared on the RACE Group PA social media accounts and website.
If you have any ideas how we could use these photos or have a lead that can help us spread these photos, we would love to hear from you!
Where does the exhibition travel to?
We love to travel to show our photographs at any location in the world.
Even though we are a Chester County based group, we don't want to limit this exhibition to this area only
Travel fee might apply.
How can I get more information?
You can use this link to schedule a phone consultation directly online.
We would love to talk with you to hear all about your organization and your ideas to host this exhibition.
Don't hestitate to email us (firstname.lastname@example.org )with any questions or concerns.
The men or photographer did not receive a monetary compensation for participation in this project. All models and production crew are volunteers giving of themselves to better our community.
RACE Group PA members are volunteers and
try to respond to emails or return your call as quickly as possible.
We apologize for any delays in answering and appreciate your patience.