Video art project to asks tough questions of African American males

Apr 30, 2013

Older generations often want to teach lessons to those that follow. Sometimes, though, those discussions break down and younger generation are left to fend for themselves. Chris Johnson found this to be a particular struggle for black men.

“Culturally, black males are arguably the most opaque demographic,” says Johnsons. “People think they understand what black males believe and feel. That’s why racial profiling and black on black violence is so prevalent because people are not dealing with human beings they’re dealing with images.”

Johnson’s created a project that tries to bridge this gap. The project, Question Bridge: Black Males, is a video art installation that features over 150 black men from eleven American cities and towns. The men are of varying ages, classes, and sexual orientations. They take turns asking, and answering, questions on big life topics, like love, family, and violence – all within the context of being a black man in America today.

The project wants to promote constructive dialogue between black men and the rest of the nation, but also to break down limiting stereotypes about black male identity – internalized ideas that these men themselves often struggle with.

“There’s no way to generalize about what a black man is,” Johnson says. “The range of different life experiences that black men bring to the process totally breaks down any monolithic notion of what it means to be a black man.”

Johnson joined KALW’s Hana Baba in studio to talk about the project.

Click the audio player above to hear the conversation.

The Question Bridge project is actually on full display for a year at the newExploratorium at the Embarcadero.