Air Force Blacks black@Bluesfest

Desert Air Force
When They See Us
Going to a festival while black.



gang gang.
Black boy on the job.
Nikes on our feet.
RBC Bluesfest worker.
Pray for us.

Liz Clarke a.k.a htbsle (hitabaseelay) is a Toronto-born spoken word poet, rapper, videographer and photographer, who is embracing several mediums of art to influence positive social change. Air Force Blacks-black@bluesfest is a social story Liz created to shine a bright light on the tenacious spirit of young black men.

The project title is a play on Nike’s Air Force 1s and the influence the brand has had on black culture.

On July 6 2019, Liz stood as a witness to an interaction between a group of black men making their way to RBC Bluesfest. They were stopped by Ottawa Police on claims made by two white passersbys about an event that might've occurred on the bus. Despite the inconvenience this situation caused, the black men were in incredibly high spirits for a festival they had been anticipating.

These gentlemen proved to be the perfect subjects to photograph and record.

The mission of this social story is to encourage police, policy makers and community members to take action and implement additional training for officers on how to assess situations concerning marginalized people in public spaces. It's important that we work towards ensuring that our neighbourhoods are safe for all.

A huge thank you to @youthottawa and @ottawabluesfest for allowing me the opportunity to photograph the festival and create this social story through photography.

Follow @htbsle for more creative content and social artistry projects.

Created By
Liz Clarke