WHAT WERE YOU DOING in 1987? In that year I was a college freshman on academic probation barely beginning to understand that my education was not complete with graduation from high school and that college was not a celebration of that achievement. In this same year, a teenaged African American girl independently documented a significant moment in her life in a series of photographs. These out-of-focus, coming-of-age photos struck me. I remembered the line, “Genius is knowing how far to go too far.”—and saw it right before my eyes: how far out of focus can the lens go before there is no discernable image? And I thought, Here is this very young sister independently putting this work together for herself despite the many “opportunities” sisters have to lower their self-esteem, flake out and get nothing done (yes, brothers do the same too but I tend to be more concerned about the sisters).

In stark contrast to the lack of focus from so many years ago I was pleased to meet Ms. Whitaker at Bob Douglas’ “Big Shoot” at the California African American Museum. She was his effective and attentive assistant for the huge photograph that would document many of the artists of Southern California. When I met her I told her about my web site and as usual she promptly did not believe me—but she had enough faith and curiosity to kill the KKK Klansman in her head, side-step a burning bra and actually try to find kintespace.com. The rest is herstory. Please see for yourself. Let her know what you think.


Original Photography and Design by . . . . . . . Mona Lisa Whitaker

Written by . . . . . . . Bryan Wilhite