I walked down Cherry St. in Macon, GA. A series of brief speeches about homeless programs was scheduled to be presented in a small public park. About a half block away, a man walked up to a photographer – I think that he was a photojournalist. The man spoke sharply, and the body language was not totally friendly. The photographer left, and I followed.
The man approached me and began railing about the laziness of homeless people. He clearly had an agenda, and his tone was not nice, he sort of spit out the words. He did not mention race, but his tone and the racial makeup of the Macon homeless population implied racism to me. A rush of mental images entered my mind at once: slavery in Georgia plantations, Sherman’s March to the Sea, intense bigotry in the post Civil War Reconstruction period, Georgia’s Governor Lester Mattox, etc.
After a lull in the “conversation”, I explained my portrait project. Smitty broke out into a huge smile and he began laughing. He said that we had met before, and that I had photographed him then. I assured him that I was visiting Macon and that we had not met before. I got a few shots, shook his hand and walked to the park, relieved to be gone.
(click to enlarge)
A minute later I looked back toward the corner where we spoke. Smitty was still there. A half block away, a very well dressed African American woman walked toward him. He saw her, quickly walked to her, and they embraced. For several seconds. I could hear them laughing, and making happy-talk.
Things are not always as they seem. My bad!