At first glance, I fell in love — with Saddi Khali’s photography. Last week, the former HBO Def Jam Poet friended me on Facebook and I was so taken by his portrait above, “Heaven, Home…” I decided to cast away LSAT tutorials today to do some clicking through. This portrait is in his Facebook album “Pieces of Peace” (may be NSFW) which was updated on Monday, and it is genius at captivating what he calls “culturally competent” images of Black folks.
He totally gets right what Dove’s Campaign for Real Beauty did in portraying women of different sizes as beautifully naked as Erykah Badu in the “Window Seat” music video. I am also a sucka for his natural hair shots complete with sprawling locs and afros for days. However, the feminist lens kicked in after I came down from my chocolate high. It is interesting to me that the only completely nude men can’t be counted on one hand compared to the dozens of nude black women. Save for one man, all of the completely nude men appear nude in context: usually in bed flanked by a seemingly aroused female partner. The other male specimens appear shirtless while numerous women behold their entire naked bodies outside of any logical context. However, while Khali has an eye for bodies, his photographs of Black women also capture their faces full with expression, Black pride, complexity, and above all else, self-love.
But his portrayal of romantic love has its limitations. Some of his photographs in the album seek to reveal beauty and love in the erotic in what he calls “Saddirotica.” Yet, same-gender couples are absent from these shots. His work would be truly enhanced by presenting the diversity of African-American sexuality. Alas, I haven’t seen all of his work so it’s possible that he is more inclusive in other albums. In the end, the bulk of “Pieces of Peace” — which totals 90 pictures — are shots of individuals who aren’t nude or coupled. I am certain that these shots are a step in the right direction in allowing us all to be more self-actualized in embracing the beauty of our bodies.
Damn, now India Arie’s “Brown Skin” is going to be in my head all day…