Photographer Sarah Huny Young Making Black Women the Face of the ‘American Woman’

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Sarah Huny Young is an American woman. She’s also a black woman, which means she’s not typically represented as a poster child of the good ole USA.

Google “American woman” and you’ll find a collage of mostly white women; white women waving American flags, white women holding guns, and Lynda Carter in her ‘70s portrayal of Wonder Woman. It’s not quite the diverse utopia of which we strive for.

“Black American women, cis and trans and hetero and LGBT, are at the frontlines of these activist movements. We’re always doing the work and tasked with the labor and we’re still not American enough? Nah.”

In Young’s photo series American Woman, she strives to skew the common perception of what an American woman looks like and even tip the Google results in a more diverse direction. Photographing real black women across America, she’s broadened the scope of body image, sexuality, gender identity, and birthplace. Specifically, she’s made the effort to include trans women and immigrants.

“Some of the women that are a part of the project are immigrants that just recently became citizens. Most, thus far, have a traumatic relationship with being American. All of us, at least once, have been told to ‘go back where [we] came from’ or that our culture, as Black Americans, isn’t important (as it’s constantly appropriated). Or we’ve been harassed by jingoistic muppets because we’re not patriotic on their terms and we have no qualms critiquing this country.”

With funding from Safety Pin Box and the Advancing Black Arts in Pittsburgh grant, she’s taken her vision on the road. Since it began, she’s added a documentary element that further demonstrates the diversity of these American women. At its culmination, she hopes to show her work in museums and galleries.

Follow American Woman on Facebook, Instagram, and Patreon. To become a part of the series, visit the website.