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tv   A Beautiful Ghetto  CSPAN  October 1, 2017 4:16am-5:11am EDT

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other political movements in that vicinity. please check them out, grab robyn spencer's a book, get it signed over there. the next talk will be in five minutes, thanks a lot. [inaudible conversations] >> baltimore photographer devin allen is next, he discusses his photos which documented the protests and riots in the city following the death of freddie gray in 2015. >> let's get started. coming up next, i would like to welcome everyone to the pavilion at the baltimore book festival.
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how many have been at some of the talks we have had so far? how many have been here? how many have never been here? if you like what you see, please check it out, we have a table back there and a location on north avenue corner of north and maryland. we are a radical bookstore, we are a fairly traded coffee roaster and coffeehouse and have dedicated ourselves the past 14 years to creating a community-based, supportive of new ideas in terms of economic structures, business relationships, cultural ideas and resistance to the oppressive status quo. some of our greatest events that
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happened over the past few years with one of the people speaking today, someone who came into artwork and a few years ago after one of the book festivals. he was at the time just beginning his journey into writing and an essay to pop culture, the first time he said to me, i glanced at it and looked at it and he said check that out, really serious about this, check it out. i looked at it and was completely floored, completely blown away. i was immediately impressed by his work, his description of baltimore, also struck by his humor and he really just made
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such an impression on me, we got to do something together. we put together a scene or chat book, contains several events. the two baltimores delved into this discussion, disparities that exist in black and white baltimore and also other baltimore, and has been able to become a platform, it has been exciting, people want to present themselves through us. we have been so excited once the announcement came out that devin allen had a book coming out.
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really exciting they have given a wonderful physical manifestation, on instagram, on time magazine, to see people come into the store, the streak that they know. the events they know, those being captured in baltimore, the shared those experiences and connection, occupying -- shows us some sympathy, does not come from a place where you feel true solidarity, true connection, it meant so much to baltimore. i'm excited to have both of them here to speak with us today so
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give it up for devin allen. [applause] >> it was me. my huber driver had a bad day. he was having girl trouble and i told him you know what? tough times don't last but tough people do. he thought it was good advice. round of applause to devin allen. [applause] >> i want to have a conversation, buy this book, and to make sure it is an affordable
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price to share in his work, a little bit about devin allen. everybody knows he is an amazing photographer. he has proven that, right? i know it was louder than that. i tell you a secret, what was funny about him, a very easy person to talk to, engaged on the end of this, i want to talk about "a beautiful ghetto". people have negative feelings about the word and negative things, most never got a chance to spend time in these places.
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we know it is nothing but beauty but outside they only see what the media portrays, you don't get a feeling it a sense of people and energy when you are driving by. and you talk about the title and energy behind it. >> i never thought this book would be a book. a lot of my images from 2014 in 2016, doing poetry, and the portion in southwest baltimore, it has to be amazing for writing poetry but not just growing up. it was a certain resilience and beauty, a lot of people don't see that there everyday.
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you have these moments, when you look at the wires, a little bit you don't see nearly enough. when i put this together i wanted to tell a story that you see every day in west baltimore. and i want -- i lost so much. >> let's talk about, let's talk about your journey as photographer. a lot of people don't know, i have been on talk the past three years. i'm not talking about california or texas. i'm talking about arkansas three times. i'm talking about lorain, ohio, places people aren't -- you don't go to orbit and wonder what they are doing in oberlin. you don't stay there.
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i have been in places like that. when i am in these places one thing they do know is they used to say you are from baltimore, what is up? over the last two years, the dude came to me in ohio, the reason he picked up a camera, it was horrible. the fact he picked up a camera, the message of the image, his work, what is transformative, people are starting to know devin allen all over the country. art has done that and a lot of them found out he is a self trained photographer, went to different universities, from london, he came back and went to brown another six years and no,
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he started, i will let him tell you. from west baltimore, i am not talking, this is a big moment. >> in baltimore. photography, people call me a photographer i can't accept it. it feels new to me. put on the spot, me and him we went to the same high school. he was real basketball player, straight as -- it was built in water mechanism, why do you want to go to the army.
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in school, got put out different schools. and my senior portrait, i am real short growing up, had a napoleon complex. we have been doing everything, i tried to get drug dealers, i was good at it, i thought i was going to be like that growing up, i tried it on, and because of that, it was at this lower spot on the market, how he did it, literally the data came and two of their friends, got to
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give it some time to be successful. every other tuesday, he would book the poetry, i would get drunk and make sure the girls had everything they need. splitting money 50/50, this guy wrote a poem in 2011, wrote the poem, couldn't get up and get his lines and make something up. and lose where i was and pause and go back, it wasn't for me. he had this camera, make t-shirts and put them on instagram, let's do it. made a poetry mixing, i don't know about that. we did that but the interaction
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between photography, i am going to be a photographer. i don't know anything about it, he wanted his camera back so i got my own camera. 2013 i got my camera. the funny thing is i never knew -- i thought i could go in and get a camera and start shooting. i want that cart, wrap it up, let's go, get to the front, i was like what? what am i going to do? the oldest grandson, first grandchild, call my grandmother, and best buy credit card which they charge more for a
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refrigerator. down for the last 750 years. she came down the aisle. got my first one in 2013, but it was real small and looking out for its hot -- photographers, i sold the camera and got a bigger one. got a big camera like a manly thing. that was the biggest camera so i started shooting. i was going through a change, i was in the street, my best friends i grew up with, we are not hanging with you, different things, doing poetry, whole different type of women. i was smitten by that, but he dropped me off and we moved into
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another. we were still -- he was wearing leggings and everything. >> he got big teeth again. >> he was always a hit at a time, from east or west baltimore, he was always different so i was -- a different type of love or anything. understandings the change to put a wedge between us from smoking and drinking all day, anything into wanting to create and my daughter played a major part, like a regular fall. and shifting that.
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you are better. a real one, i love you and keep it up. taking articles to school, that is there. from that i stopped hanging with them, got my camera, had a shot. at one point in time it was separate. into photography i remembered going to baltimore, hugging his little brother and started to love him so a photo shoot, coming to my photo shoot, he had the gun on him, put the gun up,
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never made it, shot in the head by the same guy off of baltimore and really row come up, the powers that be, take it and run with it. just been doing it ever since. [applause] >> if i can put that in historical context, slavery went on, the prison industrial complex, and different things, it is still going on now but by 150 years people understand we are the first generation of people doing the stuff we do.
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the aperture with all that photography stuff, didn't have that. the first time i read a book i was passed 20, wasn't reading books in high school, the stuff we do is different, because people don't normally get these shots, i got a lot of job offers in a lot of places. and telling stories about what we have been through. and telling our stories, and all the cocktails. we don't leave that because it is not about what we do, we do things for ourselves but it is other people, how can i utilize what i do that he utilizes what he does and take these skills and share them with other
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people? clap it up for the young people. >> stand up. stand up. stand up. [applause] >> who do you know about the platform that will take time to share, we can keep this story gone but what he does with photography is what i try to do with writing and this is why i devon is one of our most import figures and we need to celebrate, it doesn't get done. i never knew anybody that graduated from anything ever, ever. it was a big deal when i graduated. what do you want? put the little one on.
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i will be classy. we don't have these experiences so the fact we are lucky enough to share these things with other people is a blessing but at the same time we are two people, so easy to make a difference. no one person -- it will be a proverb. better than me rambling. when we unite we tie down alliance. that is real - nobody is going to get anywhere alone but together we can do these things. when you support anybody on something like this you got to get behind it. the event is definitely -- let's talk about how you selected the images from the book and how you collected images and poetry. i wrote the forward and he told me he needed me to write the forward, right now, 14 jobs
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right now. at that time i had 14 jobs and a big project but i don't care because at the end of the day this is what we have, we are here to connect with other artists and do what we got to do to elevate other artists to the next level. i tried my best to write a forward i thought devin allen would be proud of. i was laughing because one of my friends in new york read the forward and has been writing about my writing for two years and he liked the forward, you never said this much before. you tell me how great i am but anyway, anyway, i think the book is amazing. i'm honored i had a chance to contribute. great to hear about the process you went through when you selected the photos and organized. >> the whole process was like so bad, came so fast, i didn't
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think anything of it, no one has a story of freddie gray, i knew how to navigate that all my life. this was on the corner on camden which started from monkeys which you see in the book facing off protests and i took those images, i was literally shooting in real time. i didn't think anything of it. when i took the image, get your daughter, i am on my way but still shooting if you come back, you are on your way, i see that. swing that home now. my mama might go to that but when i document it i want to tell the whole story. so the book and everything that came from it being able to control the nerves is the biggest thing to be. i got the freddie gray video,
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and we had mutual friends and that is how small baltimore is. east baltimore in some way, shape or form won't go at it, everyone knew about different hospitals with different people. and big ecosystems in west baltimore. and because of the history that is already here. and when heroin hit, billie holiday on pennsylvania avenue and everything else, we still didn't stop, transferred -- to be released, lead paint
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poisoning, funding being cut. all that energy and that protest, i knew we would take to the streets and i wanted to be there. i shot the mike brown protest, and never got a reply back. and something, i use my own social media, it so happened the images, from celebrities, and interview that sunday, when the time cover, got hung up three or four times when they call, bill collector or a girl mad at me. i asked, one of my homeboys playing, this is olivier from time.
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i am yelling, olivier from time, from time, talk to him. i talked to him and talked about what was going on on the ground, going on my third year i didn't know anything about intellectual property, so glad he didn't ask me over but did right and sent everything over coming back and i was outside shooting. i did not capture images when everything happens, the freedom of freddie gray. beyond 20 -- very disrespectful, that is just me growing up, taking pictures, took the day off, i didn't come into the night time so my homeboys said something was burning and got
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homeboys on the avenue, i came out as a concerned citizen and in the commonwealth i was shooting a full spread, can you send the image? i was like all right, don't get your hopes up, already got a time cover. at the time i was working at night with intellectual disabilities. >> by the curfew, you were going to work by the curfew. >> this was before the curfew. that was the thing, to make a scene in the house, really in the house. >> white man for the bottom giving his id. >> saw images, i didn't know. they tweeted do it. i was getting ready for school and got on twitter and what is
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with these notifications? the images from west baltimore, the cover of time, this was like -- all i said i called my mother and she dropped the phone screaming. first time she screamed i had gotten in a bad car accident. i know you did not crash that car again. the whole process was so quick but that was never the goal. that is the first time i felt i had a voice. growing up i never planned my life passed 21 because i didn't think i was going to make it, i will wing my whole life. i am not going to finish. i went for eight months, didn't get my general requirement. then for the first time, i had a half, i had meaning. from that, the first thing i wanted to do, i saw kids, police officers on bikes, thought about
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my mental state from growing up in baltimore, how is a 7-year-old going to digest that? police telling you you can't go down the street to the corner store. humvees trying to pinch you when marching down the street and these are kids. i don't know nothing about this, i am learning myself, teaching inner-city kids sharing their perspective and gain a voice, not to remember the first week was $3000. anymore, going -- donated $1000 for this opportunity. direct from black lives matter, he wanted to talk about a bunch of activism, what was going on in the global climate and all the stuff. was on the phone for two hours and all right, don't hang up,
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russell simmons before you. two hours talking on and on, russell simmons looking for me, what is up? he got the money for you. i am going to call you back and talk to you later. i remember calling michael stone, i love your work, how much do you need, how much? russell simmons will write it off. and i never -- in the city. actually, he gave me $25,000, with the exhibit, it is a little side and driving to show my grandmother, through my
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neighborhood, 25,000, looking like what the hell? and -- people get that money, i put that in my own bank. it took a minute, it is not drug money, improve it, good to go. in august, on that zone, i went back to my old neighborhood. in two years giving 150 instead of youth in baltimore alone. we were working saturday now, doing a show real soon, three successful shows, one at the other end, sold the work, money back to the kids and back to
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that. i was good with that, when i came up with the concept, talking to princeton, that is the crazy thing, from princeton, to come talking to me about this hashtag and the content of the hashtag, working on a book in the ghetto, from the hashtag the first thing, needs to do a show. in philadelphia on campus, got a major response, need to learn that, some think about the word, and the venice finale in 2016 with a bunch of different scholars, only the black ghetto,
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the first k ghetto, soak it all in so when i did the show in philadelphia, an amazing book called lack lives matter, black liberation, you need to turn this into a book. i literally took it from my show and put it into a book and when i put the book together i wanted to collaborate with people i know and gained something from. with access in louisiana, just before he was a photographer, i was a struggling fake poet. he was a professor. we started talking and he would be drinking cheap vodka. i was drinking whiskey. we were talking, don't know how we got on the subject. baltimore is dirty and we have been friends ever since. when i was writing the intro,
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reached out, and the only black photographer i found, told myself i wanted to be that guy and the first fellowship of his fellow of his organization. putting the book together i wanted to put a book together that can set the tone, no one knew anything beyond the wire, behind baltimore being a heroin capital and the murder rate, so much more than baltimore in general and i wanted to show the tranquility, positivity, the moments on a regular basis, we had those moments we lose people, the police brutality. in early 2000 police officers, i have been subjected to it,
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nothing but love. i wanted to show images, kids eating chicken bites on the corner. when looking get dirt bikes as being negative that is one of the only things that brings the city together east to west, south baltimore and congregate with part of our culture and make it look and demonize it and better realize they have been doing it so long they know how to get through traffic but police officers want to run them off the street. police wanted to run them over. they look at everything we do and we bring it together and they demonize it. i wanted to take that back and show the positive side of my community. every image in that book, i took it, it was in the moment at that
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time. you see people like my friend sally, we have virtual friends and i have a photograph from 2015, a recipe for him, shot on his stomach early this year so never got to show him the book. or who had his hand and fist up from gilmore, freddie gray, he was murdered in 2016 but he made a big impact as i wanted to make sure every person i came in contact with, i could tell the story and everything in it. that is why i didn't want to put words in it so you can come to your own conclusion when you see images. i wanted to make sure it was well-rounded, my mother grew up here, all she knows is baltimore, i wanted to clarify my mother. it is being taught from west baltimore, kind of different and we had visual friends and we
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connected and him being a black muslim, black man and a muslim, i wanted to give him a chance to tell his side and link up with an african-american woman and her perspective on black lives matter so i just -- so that is the basis of the book but i don't want to keep going on and on. i love the q&a part and interacting and i would love to hear from you. any of you heard the book, the state of baltimore and everything? >> a few quick things. it isn't dirty. let's just get that out of the way. >> west side is cleaner. >> one thing i want everybody to take away when you leave here and understand it, you can get
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in a car with me or devin allen, you can get in a car with josh, doing this work, you can drive around to different neighborhoods. when we get out of the car we will know people, we don't just pop up when it is a crisis or when there passing out checks. you go down a hill, go to the avenue, any -- any of these places, you are not just talking to a talking head but people who work with people who love these people who are part of these people, that is what it is about. we first-generation artists doing the work we do, we are learning this as we go. we will open it up. >> getting to you and a. everyone give it up.
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[applause] get as many questions as possible to you have a question? that would help the c-span microphone to served that, lined up, 1-2-3, get that round and do another round if you have a question. don't be scared, we don't bite. >> let's do 1-2-3. >> thanks so much for the powerful presentation. in the 1940s, you have spoken in
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terms of the beauty of the black community. as a child in gilmore projects the sense of people with community, could you say a little more about the death spiral of gilmore homes? >> i am not from gilmore homes, my boy is from down there but it is like chairs, you know you belong, you got to know somebody to walk in but even at west baltimore, i have homeboys in different places, people with a certain sense of family you better realize if you can't get into the house, that type of community a lot of us grew up in, your neighbors say you are there, you get in the house, that is the community we have. for me growing up, maneuvering in so many communities, i am not from emerson village but i can
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post up there and welcome. i grew up around there for playing basketball, corner leaves and stuff like that, going to the club and shaping up and having a good time. these are parts of the communities and never get talked about. even down when we look at things like cease-fire or people in the basketball games or communities in the dome or new leagues popping up now. we always find a way to keep our own children busy. my mother had me in every sport you can think of but even photographing this book, every place i was i felt comfortable, i have been hanging out since i was a teenager. you see friends and family, one thing that speaks to what you are asking for his capture these
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books, about social fabric. i grew up down the hill. running in and out doing projects or growing up down the hill. the social fabric that exists in communities like you might need your neighbor to watch your kids to go to a job interview to get a job and get a better living situation, you might need to borrow $20 to get from monday to wednesday but on wednesday you might find the craft. this community has pockets all over baltimore city. when you look at the photos in this book you see the unity of the family. if i'm a big developing company i might say i will just keep it -- in this neighborhood to keep it moving but people in these neighborhoods we know, we are going to thrive together and that is the only way to get out of everything, that is how every
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community work, white communities, black communities, latino, every community use of each other to survive and pull each other up, these books capture that and people who don't get a chance to go to these places say they do the same thing on thanksgiving we do on thanksgiving, the same thing on christmas, that is annoying too. those conversations, these photos and these books and hands and play on social relations that help us connect more. >> back to my grandmother, 40 years, everyone lived in that house, if you get evicted my grandmother will take you in. when you talk about my grandmother she owns her house 40 years and my family lived there, people who haven't been family, that is the community we have which one of us is good, we are all good. if i got $10 we got $10. that is the mentality i was
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raised in growing up. >> okay. briefly i had a question for both of you. what advice would you give me or anybody else about writing a book or putting a book together? >> for me, the best thing i'm going to say is create from your heart. ..
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at some point you can go to black blank all of that houston and sit down and write. when i pop out with a book and it's like -- it's like, oh, that's me friend. sometimes you got to make them understand how important it is just by putting your phone on do not disturb, put it under your couch, cutting he the luthe out and lock the door. you have to sit down and write. everybody can write a book but nobody can because they don't commit to finish and it that sprays you from everybody else.
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>> i get a little intense, you know. >> -- structural violence and you're describe yourselves as first generation artists. i'm one of those people who went to college in new england, i was in san francisco, i was -- lots of education. >> you have a good bio. i. >> i want to hear about what you say about kids the days in baltimore rising. i work at the hospital and i see the youth of baltimore, and i see people my age and what is your -- you mentioned you guys are sticking around here, not checking checks and over cocktails. just want to hear you talk more about what you guys are doing, what your message is to baltimore youth, to do what you do.
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>> the youth in baltimore, like, for me growing up, i ain't planning my life peninsulas 21, and the kid now not planning their life past 17. you have to look -- i'm 29 now, and when i talk to the youth, a lot of my home boys, little brothers, they deep into having -- and it's like growing up for me, it's not a lot of us first generation, he means that. for me, i've been -- like my mother and grandmother was positive influences. a lot of -- all i saw was drug dealers mitch favorite cousin was a stickup kid and that's what wanted to do and went down the path. it's about giving them a new energy to show them you can do this because they don't have no faith. when i tell kids dim a photographer. they can't believe i'm making a
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living off of it. they don't know. so it's about educating them and getting resources in these spaces. but those resources are not in the schools. we feel leak we're obligated to get the resources, it's if a cameras or writing utensils or books they've need hope. where is the spotlight when they were telling simba, don't go over there. that's -- and that's how they treat us, and it's like -- i always felt like we were a place that, don't worry about them, they just ignored us, and people come here, like, i couldn't even -- when i was doing photographer i would try a book photo shoot issue couldn't models to come to baltimore. they were scared. the only new one aspect of it. one thing about teaching kids to
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tell they ever story and give.ing.ing.ing.ing the story y don't have a voice. i was told i wasn't going to be shit multiple times times and ch thank you soul young enough, they believe it. so we have teach them how to pull themselves by their bootstraps because we're rare. we're rare. >> when i'm out of town and, like, people hear -- mainly women hear from baltimore, they can liar, eww, and after i give my speech they're like, you're not look the rest of. the. i will say, for me, i feel like if young people had the ability -- critical thinking stills have been important to me throughout my whole life, and even when i was earning these skill is didn't know what i was doing, when i actually learn and became a reader and learned how powerful to be able to analyze and strategic pick out anything and everything die from the sock is put on to the portion of eggs
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on my plate. can change the whole direction of my life, and that just challenged me to share that skill with other people. so i do that by creating content that young people get excited about reading and then working really hard with different plates like hooks for books, pimps walking the foundation, and all of these different places to get the funds to donate books to schools. so i've been to over 200 schools in last three years but this book has didn't been donated at least 5,000 copies to schools in bam more city, and if i can get the books in the schools and i good over there and i teach workshops and the students learn to read, reading is something they can relate to and have fun and then the have an opportunity to interact with the author. that's the best work die. to walk outside of high school and see a kid say that your story is so good, and i feel like my story is just as good. and i'm going to write mine. i'm going to give it to you. that's amazing and i get them and read them and then i've been to to a bunch of jails and group homes and youth centers and if a
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been to a lot of different places with have to same ideas and it's simple but it works, and i'm just like one person. whatever you passionate about, whatever you love, care about, it's so easy to take that skill and do whatever it means to yourself to achieve mastery and share the skill with one person. was fortunate enough to share if witness thousands of people. i was speaking at some college, and the person was talking about photography, and they were saying that how they want to help and dent know oh help. i think columbia or somewhere. i'm like, how the fuck did you get into columbia? you want to help somebody plus you at columbia. how you get here? you can help people if you want to and instead of -- take pictures but instead of taking pictures of people at their most vulnerable, he takes camera off and he shows other people how he does what he does, and had is the difference.
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if you want to be -- you into nutrition, teach your kid food shit. if you have ab muscles and do 2,000 situps a day go out into a park. tony is giving three clinics to people with diabetes, and he teaching people in the neighborhood how to not be fat. you got grandmothers doing pullupsup shit because he carol. what you care, you'll figure out what you can do and make the difference. he does it, do it. we all do it. is a not in the most difficult thing in the world. >> i want to add something. we work with a lot of kids and i'll tell you one particular scenario. we collaborated on a workshop together with rare bull, and we were running late. it was the second day. we told them how we do and it
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how to story-tell in our own ways. it i was going to take my kid shows shoot at 10:30, 11:00 a.m. teaching the jubilee art center, and i remember some gunshots rang out, you know so you know the news pop up, shots fired on pennsylvania of gnaw, blah blah blah, avenue is like a law and order stretch. when i get there the street is blocked up from where we was teaching at, and we was on time -- if we was on time, we would have been right there because we literally went that direction to take pictures, and the crazy thing about it, how small baltimore is, my kid weren't scared and we're going to document it. i didn't want to say know. they shot the detectives or whatever and when i looked on instagram it was personal friend of mine from my neighborhood. that's how small baltimore but that's the reality. we're teaching and two blocks up someone was killed. that's everything that is going
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on in our community. that's the reality that cheese kids face every day, and don't know how to engage them. so it's like when you engage these kids, sometimes it's not best to just teach them, it's boast listen. kids with post traumatic stress just don't know. >> i think we should make sure we stay in contact. i'm on instagram, twitter and social media. what is my instagram -- its bydve, def vaccine allen without no vowels. i wanted to make it special. >> no underscores. >> no. before we leave, i want to open up my show. every time guy somewhere, people always give me cameras so there's -- the photographer gave me a point and shoot and it was like this interest the right hand so anybody between 15 to 16-year-old kid that is aspiring photographer, come get this camera right now.
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the first one up here, if you 16, 15, 14, the first one up here, i'm going to give you this camera. [applause] >> come on down! >> you own it. you own it. >> cool. thank you. >> thank you. [applause] >> we have backs for sale over here. they will be signing over there. the line has already begun and we have -- thanks so much for coming out. grab a schedule. be we'll be here tomorrow as well. [inaudible discussi

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