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No, We Are Not Oppressed: A Photo Essay

by Marley Nichelle | Locs Image

We are not oppressed is a photo essay by Marley Nichelle for Locs Image of Black people and families in Charlottesville and beyond. This essay is designed to recognize the inherent agency and humanity in Black people. The essay is a historical record of dignity in the midst of a world and community that constantly attempts to wrestle human dignity away from Black people. This photo essay is a collaboration between Locs Image and the Charlottesville Inclusive Media Project. Please stay tuned for more additions as the series continues.

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The Hampton Family | Ix Park, Charlottesville, VA

Dr. Wes Bellamy | Mel's Cafe, Charlottesville, VA

Erin Flowers | 4th Street NW, Charlottesville, VA

Shaunice Bradford | Main St, Charlottesville, VA

Lincoln | Richmond, VA

Lincoln | Richmond, VA

Khalilah and Family, Ix Park, Charlottesville, VA

Mya Nicole, Charlottesville, VA

Raylaja and Daughter | Stonefield, Charlottesville, VA

Chris, Khalilah & Myles | Ix Park, Charlottesville, VA

Myles | Ix Park, Charlottesville, VA

Ariel Lawan, Elliott Ave, Charlottesville, VA

Pamela Coleman (author) | Ix Park, Charlottesville, VA

Elijah Israel Hampton, Ix Park | Charlottesville, VA

Daylen Israel Hampton, Ix Park | Charlottesville, VA

Judah Brown, Ix Park | Charlottesville, VA

Adama Delphine Fawundu | St. Helena, South Carolina

Adama Delphine Fawundu | St. Helena, South Carolina

Adama Delphine Fawundu | Charleston, South Carolina

Chrystal Johnson | Ix Park, Charlottesville, VA

Rah Bolden | Charlottesville, VA

Rita Burrill and Family | Charlottesville, VA

Latoria White and Daughter, Ix Park, Charlottesville, VA

Jamar & Jamal | Prospect, Charlottesville, VA


“No, We Are Not Oppressed,” is a photo series of a story in time—of moments in time. It serves as a narrative of liberation and healing for communities of Blackness by showing them power through language and visual arts. This experience gave me, the  artist/photographer, the opportunity to engage and communicate  with Black community through many different languages. Each  session has been astounding with gratitude with every individual’s willingness to participate and be apart of a moment and movement in history where we see ourselves through competence and liberation. When it comes to the Black community, healing should be a revolutionary act and not  just a topic of discussion. How can we heal our community? We need to be intentional in our healing.

Blackness is not one way. In fact, we are an energy moving in all directions at all times, gravitating in many unique ways ancestrally. It varies in multiple perspectives based on cultural background, region, and environment, and that is okay. These are the roots that keep us together. Living in a system that is built to oppress, this series is created to show power in solidarity through images that tell a story of what it is like to be different yet the same, and embracing those differences by sticking together.

— Marley Nichelle

Marley’s early photography work was published by Vinegar Hill Magazine and Marley later published photography in the the New York Times. Keep up with the creative work of Marley using this LINK.


This story was published as a part of Charlottesville Inclusive Media’s First Person Charlottesville project. Have a story to tell? Here’s how.


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Vinegar Hill Magazine is a space that is designed to support and project a more inclusive social narrative, to promote entrepreneurship, and to be a beacon for art, culture, and politics in Central Virginia.


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