Prologue: The Way of Activism
Imagine uprooting your family from a disaster, from death, searching for safety, desperate for safety. You land somewhere, but it’s been nine years now, and you’re still there, in the middle of endless sandstorms, not just figurative ones. You can’t leave. And there’s no end in sight. You are free from danger, you are existing, but you are not living. You are simply surviving. You are not trapped behind emotional or spiritual walls; these ones are physical. How do you manage all that and still allow for play, curiosity, education, warmth, happiness, love?
I’m not sure why it took so long for me to understand the connection between the photographer and the photograph. Most times we focus on the image, not the one who produces the image or the connection between the photographer and the image itself. Why did the photographer find this particular scene beautiful, compelling, worthy? Why did she choose this photo, and not another, to share with you? How did she even get here in the first place?
The object of this series, Asma, inspired the documentary photographer with her grace and brilliance, with the power of her resilience. Both mothers of four. Both tirelessly bringing joy, security, knowledge, self-confidence to their children, their girls especially. One with children still at home, one an empty nester. Both stunning women, inside and out. One a prisoner, the other free.
We can turn our eyes, that is, until our eyes meet another’s. And then we can choose to either look away or to go in more deeply.
This is the way of activism.
written by Nikki Beinstein (she/her)
Writer / Educator / Child Advocate
Founder, The Serious Type