This photo essay, in its truest sense, is a poem that pays tribute to Chicago’s Black and brown residents striving during the Midwest’s long winter season. These Chicagoans are inspirational because they create everlasting experiences for their loved ones and their communities even when they lack the necessary financial resources.

The title of this piece, “Greetings from #TheBlkSnowman,” is inspired by Phil Mendez’s 1989 book, The Black Snowman. This book explains the importance of understanding the Black experience, one’s heritage and the value of self-worth.

This photo essay includes images of protests led by youth organizers who oppose the policies of their Chicago Public Schools. Also included are photos of the participants of Imagine Englewood If, a South Side non-profit dedicated to “empowering the greater Englewood community through teaching local youth and their families healthy living, environmental awareness, and positive communication skills.” In the pictures, the participants are helping each other to find essential resources. This essay shows the resilience of Chicago’s diverse communities during the surges of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Greetings from #TheBlkSnowman

The slender figure of a concrete goddess calms my nerves while I become annoyed with subliminal depressions. A pandemic and a bully disguised as a mayor can’t shatter the strength of a community. But we knew that.

The CTA trying to do it's job on 58th and Racine
A family receiving resources from "Imagine Englewood If" at the revamped Peace Campus
CTU union teacher helping marshall other teachers in a carpool towards CPS headquarters

The Windy City could be covered in over 14 inches of powder and still push towards a new day and new blessings. Our entire city is in fear for their lives and their education. But the block is still striving. It’s still going on, and we’re doing what we’ve been trained to do over generations of being cursed by letdowns and betrayals from politicians. We are hard to destroy completely. Just ask the Chicago Police Department.

Seeing the exhaustion and determination on my lil homies’ faces as they fight CPS keeps me inspired to keep fighting. Watching communities depend on each other as we embrace ourselves for this new year gives me hope. To save our city, we have to do the necessary work to heal and help one another. It’s the only way we can get free…

Chi-RADS youth organizers helping Kenwood High School students with school walkout for a safer education
A Englewood resident walking his dog Toto
Dion of Dion's Chicago Dream refilling a project dream fridge with fresh groceries right after a heavy snowfall

A lifetime can’t be explained in how many names we can say from our mouths, and it can’t be measured by how many months and years they aren’t on this planet with us. Our memories and future celebrations with them in the sky are what keep their legacy alive within our hearts. 

Yes, our loved ones are dying by the hand of an enemy that is jealous of our brilliance, but we shine nevertheless. Yes, our war has moments when we genuinely appreciate and miss who we have lost.  

Smile when everything is against you. You’ll appreciate the struggle later. Laugh when nothing but hate is being thrown against you. You’ll understand the glow-up later. Focus your hardest when your dreams are concerned. You’ll enjoy the adventure later.

West Englewood residents shoveling in the early morning for work after a heavy overnight snowfall
A snow truck forcing a Englewood resident to walk in the snow instead of the street because the sidewalks are not yet shoveled
A mural curated by artist Cujodah and the Englewood Arts Collective
Community gathering to uplift Melissa Ortega in a march to uplift mental health and the stop of violence
is a photographer and writer from the Chatham and Burnside area. Since his highlighted works with True Star Magazine, showcasing Chicago's musical talent, he has been on a mission to capture and express powerful opinions and perceptions through imagery and writing.