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In their own words: ‘The Self Publication’ explores issues of racism, internal prejudice and more

There is perhaps nothing more timely, although certainly not new, than the investigation into how black people and particularly black women are portrayed by media. Nitashia Johnson’s exhibition at the South Dallas Cultural Center, “The Self Publication,” explores not just issues of racism but also colorism, internal prejudice, beauty, self-worth and mental and emotional health.

Johnson has photographed black millennials, mostly women from North Texas, and next to the portraits are excerpts of the subjects’ personal stories dealing with issues of perception and beauty.

“I remember how around the age of 9, I realized I wasn’t just black. I was dark-skinned, with a large nose and kinky hair, and that wasn’t the most favorable thing to be at the time,” Bibi shares. The photographs often stand as soft yet stark rejoinders to the subjects’ own experiences — these women are beautiful but also human. They are processing trauma but find strength in their own healing and vulnerability.

One of the successes of Johnson’s exhibition is that I want to write about and share everyone’s story — it almost feels disrespectful to not give each subject its own tribute. And perhaps that is one of the points of “The Self Publication” — there has not been sufficient space and attention given to these stories, which Johnson tells in a careful and tender way.

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