Institutionalized Attire

Institutionalized Attire – May 2015

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For the month of May 2015, I wore a wool suit to protest police brutality and those that have been wrongly incarcerated. This project was specifically conceived with Tamir Rice, Kalief Browder, and Michael Brown in mind. 

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Black people are stereotyped to be savages, angry, hyper-sexual, uncivilized or criminal. When Black people are “tokenized” based on “close” relationships with white people the idea of humanity can be established. The way to increase this speed of this familiarization is through dress and education. Men and women performed a middle-class style of respectability during the civil rights movement to increase conversations around racial equality as images of white thugs brutalizing Black people emerged internationally.

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In this situation, I When people would inquire or compliment me on my attire I would steer the conversation towards the effects of Institutionalized racism on minority cultures and how thousands of police departments across the United States are in need of reform.

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Throughout the month I slowly deconstructed the suit, for the first few weeks the suit was worn with the traditional shirt, shoes, and tie – succumbing to the stereotypical restrictions that come with being civilized. As the month continued I broke down the suit, wearing it with a t-shirt and sneakers. Just as one would attempt to become acclimated to a prison cell or a family would try to adjust after losing a loved one.

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With the project, I attempt to pay homage to those like Kalief Browder, Tyisha Miller, Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin and the other million people who have been lost in the fight for equality.

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Photos by Julian Louis

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