Am I What You’re Looking For? Photographs at the intersection of race, gender, and work

As a graduate student at Yale, Endia Beal studied photography. But her time working in the school’s IT department provided another kind of inspiration for her career. In that office, the desire a co-worker expressed to touch her hair, a common and discomfiting experience for Black women, became fuel for artistic interrogation. In the eight years since, confronting the meaning of that query and others like it—“peeling back the layers of the onion,” as Beal describes it—has yielded an array of visually compelling and intellectually provocative work. In one short film, Beal asks white men the questions Black women are often asked in interview settings: “How many children do you have?” “Do you always wear your hair like that?” “Would you be willing to change your name?” Beal’s new book, Performance Review (published this month by Minor Matters Books), continues this exploration of how race, gender, and work intersect, with a particular focus on the lives of Black women. …

By Imani Perry, The Atlantic

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