Photographs, text
and RealAudio by
Andre Lambertson / SABA

A Multimedia Presentation of

This presentation is best viewed
at an 800x600 monitor resolution.

" the most private chambers of his heart always, the black American finds himself facing the terrible roster of his loss; the dead, black junkie; the defeated, black father; the unutterably weary, black mother; the unutterably ruined, black girl. And one begins to suspect an awful thing: that people believe that they deserve their history, and that when they operate on this belief, they perish."
- James Baldwin, "White Man's Guilt," 1965

Introduction by Andre Lambertson

Three years ago I began working in earnest on a project photographing juvenile violence. At the time I began this project, I had hoped to shed light on the harsh realities of these haunted children. I was my attempt to make some sense of these wasted lives, to bear witness to their darkness and to honor them.

I thought of my own mother, of her struggles, and the traumatic times she lived through. I thought of her sacrifices. Being adopted, I thought about how my life may have ended up. I was looking for an understanding for the weariness of these mothers. I had hoped my photographs would form an overview of a generation not seen, heard or valued. The light cast was dim, and the few bright moments were invariably overcome by the dark realities of the grim future facing urban youth in this country.

 Almost everywhere I traveled I saw the wasted potential of black children, and the moral conflicts they face. I photographed in low-income housing projects from Chicago to Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, and I documented the impact of AIDS in communities, and night after night of candle-light vigils for slain youth. I traveled south to the tiny, rural town of Lake Providence, Louisiana, and looked into the faces of the poorest community in America, only to return north, to the sprawling city of Baltimore, where the same sad, indelible images danced on its urban concrete streets.  I rode with paramedics (Unit #7 in Baltimore) who were rated first in the nation in call responses, with 30,000. 

I, who was never really afraid of the night, now fear the wail of a siren, and wonder as an ambulance's rear lights trail off into the darkness. I still hear that awful wail/moan/shout of a mother who at 3:00am learned of her son's death by seeing his slumped body on the porch of their home as she returned from work. The police officers had cursed and abused the neighbors who came out from their front doors, their eyes gleaming, to see if that was their son or daughter.

There were brighter moments, including the Million Man March, and the endless ritual of parents and children loving each other. At these times I felt like a witness to the revival of the delivery of promise. But, invariably the road would take a hauntingly familiar turn, and I witnessed a mother being fed heroin from her son, or watched a sister dive into her brother's casket.

When I think of the Civil Rights movement, and the people who died for integration, who died for education, who died for voting rights, died for things they couldn't comprehend. Was all that in vain?

Another generation has been claimed and I don't predict an easement during my lifetime. That is perhaps for the offspring of the next generation to enjoy. We can no longer eradicate reality. We are all connected by threads that bind us. This project has not been an easy one, but I am still an optimist. I still keep looking for more light. And that light is love.

RealAudio: Introduction
by Andre Lambertson

RealAudio: "I've always been
drawn to social issues..."

RealAudio: On how "No
Moment of Silence" started

RealAudio: "I love to take pictures
but I want to help people first..."

RealAudio: "I'm trying to
bear witness to what I see..."

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