56 Black Men started as a visual campaign documenting 56 black men who are doing something other than what is widely plastered about black men across various forms of media. Championing the idea that ‘I am Not My Stereotype’, in 2018 Cephas took a series of 56 portrait images of black men all wearing hoodies.
The number 56 taken from a sky report that detailed the number of black people murdered in 2018.
With this in mind alongside the increasing reporting on black men being victims or perpetrators of knife crime, Cephas decided to start to spotlight the positive achievements and job roles of black men while they are alive and not just when they are murder victims or suspects.
If young black boys continually see themselves represented in the media in a negative way this does not give them much else to look up to, neither does it help to change the trajectory of their life.
The campaign looks to challenge the lazy and dangerous stereotype of ‘the black man’ and the negative connotations and stigma attached to the cliché image of a black man wearing a hoody. The campaign makes a visually bold statement by showing black men wearing a hoodie, while it also features text on what these men currently do for work. It features men from the world of finance, the arts, legal and business, right through to the medical field and more. This is generally the opposite of what society has been conditioned to expect of a black man and in some cases even influences how men view themselves and their ability. You see this reflected through the lack of representation within the workplace also.
56 Black Men has gone viral on social media, with people picking up the campaign from London to Lagos, various news outlets reached out to cover the story on main stream media and on a number of publications/news papers. 56 Black Men have received local, national and global press and the stories we have received about how this movement had changed lives and perceptions were mind blowing. We now look to continue to push the boundaries for black men in the world of media, culture and within the community.