As a child during the 1980s, I grew up with a weekly diet of TIME magazine and the evening news. The famine in Ethiopia during the decade generated an endless stream of news filled with images of Black bodies, so much so that my entire conception of the continent was built off the tragedy of a single nation. To me, Africa was a desert wasteland of starving people – a thought conceived through photos.
Of course, Africa is hardly that. The second-largest continent with the second largest population boasts beaches, deserts, mountains, fertile farmland, pyramids, and wine country. And yet, images of abject poverty – particularly those of children – continue to perpetuate visual stereotypes of a place that inherited the racist moniker of “the dark continent” in the 19th century by Europeans seeking to justify imperialism and slave trade.