Positive Black images critical to healing community

Positive racial, ethnic identity is associated with positive self-esteem

Charlotte artists are coming together to showcase diversity. Their mission is to show more Black and Brown faces on screen and in magazines.

Every snapshot is intentional, from the countless coils of textured hair to the spectrum of brown skin.

Hart is challenging standards of beauty and is on a path to change it. Hart founded The Bae Hive, an inclusive photography agency.

She serves brands, bloggers, and influencers, especially those that are pursuing diversity.

“A lot of times with representation - you can tell it’s just- unintentional,” Hart said. “It’s all, we don’t have a Black kid, let’s put one right here. We don’t have a brown kid, let’s put one right here, and it’s not the same romanticized photos that some of the other kids get.”

But research says it matters.

A practitioner’s guide, released by the American Psychological Association, says a positive view of their racial and ethnic identity can be protective factors when children confront racism and discrimination. Positive racial and ethnic identity is associated with positive self-esteem, which has direct implications for mental health.

For Napolentano, it looks like one of his latest murals in Charlotte, which is inspired by Bae Hive models. Captured here is one of the youngest models absorbing every bit of her magnified reflection.

“There is a responsibility that comes with making these works that are so public that are at key inflection points of the city,” Napolentano said.

Hart recently formed a nonprofit with Napolentano and filmmaker Aaron Atkinson. One of their first projects is a public service announcement.

Like any good portrait, it’s all about exposing children, specifically children of color, to arts and culture, then equipping them with knowledge and tools to create for themselves.

“When I partnered up with the other two creatives to say, ‘Hey, we all come from three different areas in this creative space, let’s get together, let’s make a difference, and help young children be able to reach these places,’” Hart said.

“For me, it’s important because I understand that I represent a future me,” said Atkinson. “This is something that I learned from my granddad very early on as a Black man in America. Every space that you’re allowed to be in, you’re representing the potential of a future you in the space.”