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The People of Detroit: Martial Artist | by Noah Stephens
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The People of Detroit: Martial Artist

[Canon 7D | 35mm 1.4 | Natural Light]


I've heard a variety of responses when I've told people about the project and asked to make their photo. The response from this local martial artist is the best by far.


"You ain't from the FBI, are you?"


I responded as any reasonable man would,


"Naw. Why, though? Do you got warrants?"


He said he didn't. I tend to believe him because he ultimately let me take his picture.


There was another guy that I asked a couple of weeks back. He entertained my spiel, but ultimately declined citing "certain previous situations."


Back to the young man above. He explained he was initially hesitant because last year his Iman was killed in the course of a FBI raid.


Some local Islamic and community leaders contend he was targeted for political reasons (though I don't remember seeing him on any lawn signs...).


The FBI contends the the Iman's organization was trafficking stolen goods.


A brief aside: In addition to writing and photography, engaging strangers in assuredly offensive conversations about race, politics and religion is another hobby of mine. I saw an opportunity to indulge my third hobby.


"Were they selling stolen shit?"


We never came to any firm answer on that question. We did, however, discuss how oppressed people are sometimes forced to bend the rules of an oppressive power structure in order to...


"Did he steal my hubcaps or not?!"


Ok. I didn't say that last part. But I think we both would have gotten a chuckle out of that if I did.


Truth be told me and ole boy had a pleasant conversation. We disagreed on a few things (ongoing global conspiracies orchestrated by clandestine families bent on world domination) and agreed on others (that no one in the U.S. is going to revolt against shit, because even our poorest people have 176 channels of digital cable).


A couple of frames after this shot - after a behind-the-camera quip on my part that he was obviously a bad brother but even bad brothers smile SOMETIMES - he broke out into uproarious laughter. All of those shots were out of focus however because of the fact my camera was in a mode where it only focuses on static subjects.


Nevertheless, I thought this brother was generally open to reasonable arguments and we even managed to come to a common focus on one fact. After I mentioned a certain disgraced local politician we both agreed on the following:


Devils don't just come in white.


[View the daily blog and meet more of:The People of Detroit ]


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Taken on June 9, 2010