A man with the right scruffed-up beard and breadth of chest swaggered into the S and M dungeon that was my place of business, and twenty minutes and one grand later had my chin — still soft with the downy fluff of teen-girl skin — held steady in one paw while the other one flew at my face so hard and fast that I ceased to exist as the same collection of matter I had been the previous instant.
When Sarah’s mother, Penny, got sick four years into our marriage, we decided to move back to Mississippi, considering it penance for the sins of our youth. We signed a lease on a house, a white one-story on the historical register with a wraparound porch and angels, stars, and the moon painted on the transom above the front door.
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Ruddy Roye is a documentary photographer who was born in Jamaica and recently moved from Brooklyn, New York, to Cleveland, Ohio. His photos have appeared in The New York Times, Fast Company, Ebony, and The New Yorker’s Instagram account, where he shared his images of the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy on the East Coast. The man pictured on this month’s cover is a Brooklyn resident. Roye photographed him on Juneteenth, a holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the United States.
My work is an attempt to show what it means to live in the struggle in places like South Carolina and Mississippi, and to document protests from Ferguson, Missouri, to New York City. I want to show the faces of those whose lives are spent in protest.
November 2014. A chanting protester blocks the path of New York City police officers in Times Square.
September 2014. A New York City protester holds up a sign to ask the police a question.
May 2020. A demonstrator at a protest in New York City.
December 2014. Twenty-year-old Robert Scott was one of the workers refurbishing the Shack Up Inn in Clarksdale, Mississippi — an offbeat bed-and-breakfast with historical ties to the cotton industry. About the killing of unarmed Black men by police, he had this to say: “It’s messed up, but it’s nothing new. It is something that has been going on since the beginning of time. It will never get better; it will only get worse. It has to play itself out. We as Black people just need to prepare ourselves for anything. The police want to control us. If we object, we are penalized, and that’s just where we are right now.”
June 2020. Scores of Houston residents line the roadway to say their final goodbye to George Floyd as his casket makes its way to the grave site.
August 2014. Dante Newsome, a resident of Ferguson, told me that it could have been him instead of Michael Brown. “Why was he shot so many times? I am out here because I don’t understand. Why did Michael Brown lose his life so senselessly?”
June 2020. Nicole Harney said when she watched the video of how George Floyd had died under the knee of police officer Derek Chauvin in May of this year, she broke down. “We’ve had enough. When I heard George Floyd cry for his momma, I thought about my son, and I knew I had to come out here in these streets. I could not stay on Twitter or any other platform. I had to come march outside.” Nicole and her son, Justin, are pictured here in front of a mural of el-Hajj Malik el-Shabazz — aka Malcolm X — and Harriet Tubman in Brooklyn, New York.
June 2020. A woman holds a candle at a Houston, Texas, vigil to honor the life of George Floyd.
August 2014. Members of Michael Brown Jr.’s family make their way to the church for his funeral service. Brown was shot and killed by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, on August 9, 2014. He was unarmed and eighteen years old.