#JDIsWoke - An Interview With Photojournalist James Drakeford
I have the utmost respect for the talented Photojournalist, James Drakeford (JD), who gives meaning to every image he captures. JD lives beyond the statistics of being a young African American man and has made it a priority to give back to his community. He is also the Founder and Creator of several projects: Black Innocence, The Idea of Being Somebody (TIOBS), Culture Talk: Change Agents, and Sexy: an alternative perspective. Each creative project helps uplift African Americans, minorities, and/or women be viewed in a positive manner. JD is a true example of what being “woke” really means.
It was my pleasure having a one on one conversation about his thoughts on our community and his beliefs on how people can unite as a culture. He understands the issues many face and offers opportunities to learn and discuss diverse solutions. So below is the insight of what him and I discussed.
In 2011, how did you feel after receiving your Bachelor of Science then commit to photography for your career?
I’ve always been interested in photography and when I take pictures I enjoy it. As a senior at the Ohio State University (OSU) I decided to invest things into what seemed fun.
Do you research photographers to learn and improve your work?
I don’t really research photographers to see other styles because the more you look for something, subconsciously it will be imitated. I want my own style when capturing each scene, situation, person, and surrounding.
Take us back to the birth of Black Innocence?
Current issues of negative energy on African Americans inspired Black Innocence. Black Innocence flips the script showing photos that create positive versus negative energy.
What inspired you to define TIOBS (The Idea Of Being Somebody) 3 principles?
Self-Determination, Self-Education, Self-Initiative
My experience through student teaching and watching how students interact is where my inspiration came from. I believe after the 5th or 6th grade people form their habits, knowing right from wrong, and begin to think for themselves. And TIOBS is for people who are learning not to follow others, but studying themselves by believing in what they do.
How do you select the panelists for Culture Talk and get the community involved?
After having a 101 conversation with my friend who was there when I needed direction I felt motivated. So I created Culture Talk Change Agents where people can get involved, share ideas, perspectives, and learn more about the African American Community. Culture Talk lets the community know their voice is important and allows us to move forward as a culture and as a people.
The discussion incorporates quality conversations with quality people. Each panelist I select is comfortable with sharing their ideas and are people who has something to say.
Do you believe Ohio will ever unite with its cities and rural areas?
Nothing is impossible, but no. People lack interest learning or working with others. A divide will always be and current generations are stuck in their ways. People have tried forcing diversity on others, so much so, they’ve written books and offered classes, but the issue is people not wanting to listen.
Any encouragement for our friends and family during times of uncertainty?
“For more unity: fear less and love more.” – JD
To be unified: I encourage others to give effort, listen, learn, and understand. What we fear are things we don’t understand; that are foreign to us. I encourage loving more, treating people how you want to be treated with patience as we are with ourselves, and to respect others.