Bilal Mohamed

founder. writer. artist.

Clairvoyant Black Man
The only person who spoke to me that day was a Black man. About an hour’s walk from my own neighborhood outside of a two-story house, I stood on the sidewalk attempting to photograph two parked cars on the street. One, a black truck with a gray cover. The other, a red convertible with a black cover. Side by side, the visual contrast was appealing, so I maneuvered looking to create my ideal composition when an elderly Black man yelled at me from the top floor. “What are you doing!” he said. I looked at him confusedly. “I’m just on a walk, taking pictures man. I’m a photographer.” “Don’t do that!” He shouted, vigorously shaking his head, “Don’t do that!” Resting my camera upon my chest, I raised my hands implying no resistance to the man’s request, and turning away, continued on with my walk...

Due to the altercation, my trigger finger naturally lost its enthusiasm – and in good timing. Walking the next block over, I witnessed the scenery change before my eyes. Every other house I passed had an American flag waving out front, if not from their roofs, then from flagpole installations. I made but one photo at the top of the block and held my camera close the rest of the way. White people I hadn’t known to reside here stood outside working on their 1960s muscle cars, drinking beers on their porches and eyeing me closely as I walked in the middle of the road, for the sidewalks here were non-existent. I had no interest in hearing what they had to say had they found me stepping foot on their property, let alone taking pictures of it. It was then that I thought, maybe that elderly Black man was not angered at me photographing his vehicles, but possibly inciting caution into my being. A warning that, just down the street, there were people who may not like me taking pictures of their material sanctuaries, and they may do much worse than simply request that I don’t shoot.