Buyin’ (Back) the Block is a tale of discovery, contextualization, and above all else, reclamation. The project explores modes of existence that make being Black in America an unequivocally unique experience. This ever-expanding body of work is chronicled within three interrelated modalities: the physical, the economic, and the mental. The Physical is an examination of the imposed and self-imposed frameworks habitually placed on the Black body. The Economic looks at the dispossession of Black currency, regarding cultural artifacts and the literal dollar. The Mental highlights the ways our current state of being, as a collective, has the power to weigh heavily on the psyche of the individual. Through outlining these three distinct but tightly interwoven threads, Buyin’ (Back) the Block sets out to reclaim what has been taken while underscoring triumphs that can never be seized.
This endeavor has always been much bigger than a thesis for me. I live these truths—they amass my being. In conversation with those who look like me, I am here to celebrate a world of beauty, one that so happens to have an ugly backdrop. From uneven sidewalks that line these inner-city blocks to rarely re-painted schoolyards, there is undisputed worth present. Our spaces and our circumstances, albeit often not ideal, reflect our resilience, our ingenuity. By referencing the past and documenting the present, Buyin’ (Back) the Block pushes to demythologize our shared future.