At the heart of every legal case lies a human story. Often that story involves suffering marked by addiction, poverty and systemic injustice.
That's the focus of Chris Arnade's ever-expanding Flickr photo set Faces of Addiction (currently at 108 images), which chronicles addicts and downtrodden individuals who call Hunts Point, the Bronx, home.
In his introductory commentary, Arnade (who is not a professional photographer but rather a Wall Street banker) writes: "By not looking, by not talking to them, we can often fall into constructing our own narrative that affirms our limited world view."
The series of poignant images is a wonderful reminder to those of us in the legal system to slow down and take a step closer...to consider that we may be so wrapped up in the day-to-day revolving door of problems, hindrances, annoyances, cynicism and seemingly anonymous faces that we end up constructing a narrative that fails to give due consideration to what is going on underneath and to ways we could combat systemic injustice.
Here are descriptions of just a few of the men and women featured by Chris Arnade in Faces of Addiction:
Roland, whose mom died from a heroin overdose and who landed in a group home at age 11. "I have potential," Roland says. "I just don't know how to use it."
Supreme, whose dog named Obama was taken to a shelter in between portraits.
Pam, who did four years for robbery but has written 26 children's books and hopes to sell them and use the proceeds to help her parapalegic brother.
Takeesha, whose former pimps burned her with cigarettes and locked her in the closet with rats: "I have seen people that have family, jobs," she says, "and they come here and they get dug in, and two weeks later they living in a cardboard box."
Eugene, a former vet with schizophrenia who now mops the floors and breaks down boxes at a bodega on Tremont Street.
Diane, who turns tricks with truckers at a corner gas station and in regards to whom the cops queried: "Why would you want to photograph that ugly thing?"
Rafael, who is fluent in English, Spanish and Japanese but who sits outside the bus depot and watches the world go by.
Jose, who did 14 years for attempted murder and now lives under the expressway and collects scrap metal: "I don't like this," he makes clear. "I don't like being dirty, collecting junk. There is nothing good. Nothing good. Nothing."
Pink, who was raped in a housing project elevator at age 12 and now works the streets. "'Make sure you write that I don't like this,'" she emphasizes. "'This is only a means.'"
Lisa, who had her first child at 15: "I am conflicted, complex. I ain't bad. I got many things going on. People are not simple."