• Robert Wade
  • ROBERT WADE'S PORTRAIT OF CONNIE MATTHEWS* Taken in Copenhagen in 1969.

"Do you feel free?"

"What's so cool about selling crack?"

"Am I the only one embarrassed eating chicken, watermelon, and bananas in front of white people?"

Those are some of the questions in Question Bridge: Black Males. Once asked, each one gets answered by a number of other black men. To that latter question, the answers include "You're not the only one, brother—I don't even eat watermelon" and "There are times when you feel like you are the stereotype," followed by testimony of the occasional contrarian desire to hide a true love for basketball and "Why do we care what they think? I don't need their approval."

The men are in videos projected on a wall. It looks like they're talking to each other, back and forth, chewing on one question for a while until somebody throws out a new one. Each man gets to talk until he's finished, no interruptions. Occasionally, they all laugh at the same time. But they're not in one room. Each man is in his own video; they were filmed separately, more than 150 of them, in eight cities around the nation, and most of them have never met.


*At the time Robert Wade shot that photograph, Connie Matthews was his girlfriend. She was also a major operator for the Black Panther Party, working out of Copenhagen. Eventually she was targeted by COINTELPRO, Wade said. No longer alive, she seems like she was a fascinating woman.

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