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Camalenque - Pallbearers

Ric Francis | Lima, Peru

Under the glare of television cameras Afro-Peruvian men carry the casket of slain Peruvian Stephany Flores. Joran van der Sloot, of Holland, confessed to her killing. Afro-Peruvian men are highly sought to carry coffins at the most upscale funerals in Peru. Clad in tuxedos and white gloves they are hired under the belief that their skin-color lends an aura of elegance to the job.

Camalenque (a vocational identity) are Afro-Peruvian men who are highly sought to carry coffins at the most upscale funerals in Peru. Clad in tuxedos and white gloves they are hired under the belief that their skin-color lends an aura of elegance to the job. In Peru, where racism against blacks and indigenous natives is strong, dark skin is not only used to exclude but to symbolize servitude. Peru's Ministry of Culture has denounced the practice of the camalenque as racist and requested - to no avail - that the mortuary business end the service.

 

Growing up in the U.S. (Harlem, New York), where blacks and Latinos are defined as "others," left an indelible mark on how I view the world. Consequently, I'm drawn to what it means to be defined as other by a predominate western view.

Since 2009 I have lived and worked in several countries in East Africa and South America. During this period I've focused on creating a visual journal that speaks of the resilience, normalcy, estrangement and injustice that characterizes the lives of others, as I collect evidence of our shared humanity. My work is an expression of my awareness - a highlight of the evidence I've gathered.

In documenting the lives of others I hope to echo the words of Nobel laureate Kenneth Arrow: "The sense that we are all members of the social order is vital to the meaning of civilization."

 

 

 

 

ricfrancis1@gmail.com

+250 786 300 571

www.ricfrancis.org

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