When screens around the world lit up with President Trump’s comments about immigration earlier this month, Anthony Adamick of Dorchester was not surprised.
The comments, which reportedly included Trump’s asking why “all these people from shithole countries” want to come to the United States, followed discussion with lawmakers about immigrants from African nations as well as Haiti.
Adamick’s response? To challenge the assumptions of Trump and others who disparage immigration by capturing the reality of Haiti and the Haitian people.
We asked Adamick about the current political climate as well as his mission statement for his work.
Q. When you first heard the news of Trump’s comments, what did you think?
A. I wasn’t very surprised, but I was pretty angry. As I was editing the photos, I was reliving my time there and his comments hurt me. I continued to post my work online and wrote a comment on one of the recent images I posted from the Haiti series about Trump’s comment.
Q. If you could show the president your work, what message do you hope he’d get from it?
A. I would want him to have an understanding that you can’t judge things off the surface level. When I went to Haiti, there were some things that were not great, but meeting these people and understanding who they are and the community that they have, I would want him to see that it’s more than what the stigma of the country is. Speak to the people and learn from the people and then you’ll have some perspective.
Q. Why does Haiti resonate with you?
A. There were a lot of Haitian people moving to Dorchester and Mattapan in the early- to mid-’90s and I remember being in high school with them. People at school would talk about Haitian immigrants, saying things like they didn’t wear deodorant, or that they did voodoo, or that they had AIDS. The Boston school system was rough for the Haitian immigrants when they first came over. From growing up in Dorchester and when Haitians came into the community there was a derogatory notion, and I went to Haiti with the idea of changing those thoughts. I’m not Haitian. But as an artist, I felt like I had a responsibility to show the truth.
Q. What has been the response to your work in the Boston area?
A. There was one moment when I showed someone [of Haitian descent] — who had never been to Haiti — my work, and it was amazing. They had no idea that their country was that beautiful. It was an amazing moment where I realized that my work was actually doing something.
Sophie Cannon can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.