about The Project
My name is Nathan. On December 30th of 2017, I had an experience in downtown Victoria where I was racially profiled by a couple walking a little ahead of me. I had gotten dressed up to go out so I was hurt by the notion that these grown adults saw me as a threat to them. That night, I got home and took a series of self portraits to show myself that I'm not scary. I thought about sharing that experience on social media, but then realized how unlikely it was that I'm the only person in Victoria that this has happened to. That's when I started approaching other people of colour in and around Victoria and asking them about their experiences with race, racism and profiling in their city.
From the outset of this project I knew that I wanted the focus of the project to be on other black people. This is partly because I feel we’re somewhat underrepresented in the arts community here on the west coast and partly because of my own experiences and wanting to interact with more black people on a deeper level. However, despite having a focus on black people, I’ve wanted to be inclusive of other people of colour as well as many of them have had experiences of racism or racial profiling.
The phrasing I chose, “Profiling Black Excellence” is a sort of double meaning. The word ‘Profiling’ in this case actually refers to instances of racial profiling that we’ve experienced, while the ‘Excellence’ portion refers to the people. It’s a bit of a counter to the instances of profiling. All the people I’ve photographed are excellent people in their own ways, but I also decided early on that I didn’t want to actually talk about or build any kind of actual profile on them. I don’t want to send the message that “these people should not have to experience any kind of racism or racial profiling because of what they do professionally or for the community” as if anybody who doesn’t do much at the moment or hasn’t had many accomplishments is deserving of racism. The other reason I chose this wording is to acknowledge all the people who are taking part in this project and every person of colour who has ever felt the discomfort or unpleasantness associated with these types of interactions. All of these people are spectacular humans and I want to show them how much they are appreciated and valued.
Lastly, the primary point of this project is to shed a light on an issue that I don't think is very widely known about in this area. One thing I’ve heard a lot from many of the people I’ve spoken with in working on this project so far is that most times they have shared these experiences with a white friend, the most common responses they hear are things like, “Are you sure it was racially motivated?” Or “I’m sure this was an isolated incident.” It has been my experience that the numerous people I’ve spoken to and asked if they’ve had experiences of racism or racial profiling have said which indicates then that these incidents can't really be all that “isolated” and are more commonplace. Unfortunately, because the percentage of the population that identifies as a visible minority is so small, many residents of Victoria are not very close with a person of colour who may want to share their experiences with a close friend, and as a result, many people don’t realize how common these occurrences are. So this project is here to bring forward the voice of many POC and highlight these experiences, and with any luck start a conversation and get people thinking about their interactions with POC.
With all that being said, welcome to the site. be sure to check out the profiles and don't forget to sign up for our newsletter to get monthly updates on what's going on with the project.