CHICAGO (CBS) — To some, youth violence in Chicago is nothing more than statistics taking up time on their nightly newscast. Carlos Javier Ortiz — in his upcoming book titled We All We Got … — hopes to show you more than a bunch of numbers. He hopes to show you the victims, families and communities plagued by violence, and he hopes you’ll see just how human they really are.
And he needs your help.
We All We Got …, which has a publication date of August 2014, will document youth violence in Chicago and other U.S. cities through photographs, essays and interviews. The intent is to humanize the victims, survivors, perpetrators, friends and family of those affected by violence. For the funds to publish We All We Got …, Ortiz has turned to Kickstarter, a website that allows the public to help fund independent projects, often for rewards. For the 2,000 book print run, Ortiz is asking for $10,000. Ortiz will only obtain the money if he reaches his goal, that’s how Kickstarter works. If he earns $9,999 or less, he gets nothing.
The basis of We All We Got … is a project Ortiz started working on in 2006, “Too Young To Die.” For six years, Ortiz has documented communities where violence hits hardest, arriving at the scenes of shootings at the same time as officers, following the recovery of gunshot victims and watching the effects of this violence on entire neighborhoods.
Carlos Javier Ortiz was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico and raised in Chicago. A Columbia College Chicago alumni, his photographs have been displayed in galleries and museums around the world, and can currently be seen at the Museum of Contemporary Photography in Chicago.
Ortiz’s photos tell a story that is all-encompassing. Yes, there are photos of gunshot victims sprawled on the concrete, which inform the viewer of one reality of the situation, but that isn’t the whole reality. It’s the photos of communities mourning, the photos of kids on the street playing, the photos of a family celebrating Christmas — all in places where violence is a constant — that remind the viewer of something important: these neighborhoods are more than victims, they’re families, they’re people.
In an interview with CBS News, Carlos Javier Ortiz says, “If people don’t look like you, then, you know, you always say, ‘That always happens to those people.'”
With his photographs, Ortiz is able to transform “those people” into, well, just “people.” People who aren’t just made up of homicide statistics and the bad reputations of their neighborhoods, but people of flesh and blood.
Find out more about the Kickstarter campaign for We All We Got … here.