Sep 06, 2016 4:34PM

Rhamier Auguste & Alex Lee Break Down Black Male Identity In Queens

"Someone's definitely going to scream, 'Excuse me miss!' on Jamaica Avenue."

This editorial was shot in Laurelton, the Queens neighborhood where Rhamier Auguste (pictured) grew up. The celebratory images, captured by his pal Alex Lee, aim to unpack stereotypes that surround black male identity and style expectations. 

Below, Rhamier shares some memories of what it's been like to grow up as an outsider in Laurelton, and Alex reflects on what he learned from shooting this story. 


"I was in college for apparel design and was carrying a tote bag with handles. I slung it over my shoulder so I could carry my other things when some fool in a passing car shouted in his heavy West Indian accent, 'Fucking faggot!' I'd never had my sexuality questioned before. During the shoot, I had flashbacks of that day.

I see clothes that high fashion designers come up with and I think, 'Pffft, I can't wear that'. Blue paisley means something where I'm from. So does red and yellow. Be careful with military belts, too. A sweater past my knees? Someone's definitely going to scream, 'Excuse me miss!' on Jamaica Avenue.

It's true the drug dealer on the corner was your inspiration because fashion magazines didn't cater to us. Middle class and lower, no office jobs, just surviving. Like reading GQ and seeing a million articles on how to do your hair. What about mine? My head wasn't made for a slicked-back Leonardo DiCaprio look. Sometimes I'd see a fashion show I liked and I'd look to see how the black models' hair was styled, only to find out there were no black models in the show.

You want to look just as good as that white male model in the Raf Simons ad, but an oversized hoodie might not make you look grungy — you still look ghetto to everyone else."


"It feels more like a lack of understanding than anything else. Growing up in a certain place, you're exposed to certain things and not to others. The ignorance reveals itself when someone judges something they've never seen before, rather than keeping an open mind. 

After speaking with Rhamier and shooting him in Laurelton, I'm convinced that my friend of four years is the exception to the rule. Somehow his interest in high fashion opened his mind and allowed him to break free of the prejudices he could have so easily accepted as facts. Gender-fluid dress sense promotes the idea that everything that makes us different from one another isn't important; we are all human, and that's all that matters. Clothing can perpetuate our assumptions, but it can also turn them upside down."

Photgraphy & Fashion: Alex Lee

Lucy Jones