We are all in this together. The stories are shared in hopes of bringing understanding and reduce intolerance and racial discrimination. We are all equal; we all have the same hopes and dreams and worry about the same things. We just want to live.
My Story – Although I am a very private person I feel it is important to share some of my experiences as a black man outdoors, as a photographer, and living in a van. The sad truth is I always feel a little scared and extra weight on my shoulders.
Even when I am out photographing black and grizzly bears I am more afraid of being harassed or killed by people.
I have been pulled aside by both Rangers and “Photographer Patty’s” and asked to abide by rules no one else around me is following.
I have been pulled over by cops and asked how could I afford a Mercedes Sprinter van.
I was stopped by Rangers because a white lady reported I stole a cellphone and kidnapped someone. With no one around and while carrying multiple tripods and 20lbs of camera equipment I was still forced to prove I was just a photographer.
While in a private community, visiting my dad in SF, I sat in my van overlooking the skyline. Suddenly we were surrounded by more than a dozen cops, many with guns drawn. I had to explain to each new officer arriving on scene why I was there. My drivers license clearly listing an address on the same street.
While eating lunch outside an apartment building and private tennis complex(where I worked) I was surrounded and accused of casing houses and using a nice van as cover.
In Lake Tahoe I was accused of shooting bears (with guns) and using the van to transport their dead bodies.
I have been asked what I am doing in an area and what I am concealing under my puffy jacket while hiking in the winter.
I have been the only photographer told to move because there were too many people photographing in an area even when I was first on the scene.
I have been the only photographer asked to move their vehicle and forced to park over 1/4 mile away.
These are some of the experiences I have had in the past 4 years. Fortunately they are small compared to what I faced growing up. However, while I am older and stronger, they still weigh heavily on me. They always affect my thoughts and decisions on where and when to travel, I never feel absolutely free.
@tsalani on instagram
Shanita K Floyd
Who I am – My name is Shanita Floyd I am 44 years old, a mother of 3 and I was born in New Orleans, La. I work in the Emergency room at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center. My mother, sister, and I moved to Los Angeles in the late 80s and loved Los Angeles because we considered it to be a melting pot.
My Story – While getting out of our car, my 12-year-old son was called a “Nigga” by a white man for no reason. This made my son cry for 20 minutes… I didn’t know what to say to him.