Photographer Marley Nichelle had a realization about their career one sleepless night. They had been making portraits of Black people full of joy and liberation.

“That's when it hit me. I said,'That's it,'” they said. “And I realized my whole career I have been creating work that surrounds things that are not oppressive. And that's the message.”

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“A lot of times when I have conversations with people just in Charlottesville, hearing people's stories, it's so heartbreaking,” Nichelle said. “I don't want people feeling that way. Like, I don't want people here to feel like they can't thrive or they can't succeed because it's so oppressive.”

Nichelle is from the low country of South Carolina and says that Black and African communities can learn from each other.

“Seeing people being gentrified, like displaced and living in the standard that they live in and stuff in Charlottesville was really triggering for me because I'd never seen a thing like that,” they said. “My Gullah community raised me to show Black people, no, we're not oppressed. There's power within ourselves.”

“Oppression is a mindset for real. It's really a mindset. When I realized that, I was like, okay, I feel like the easiest way to help people is through art,” Nichelle said.

In My Humble Opinion, the Sunday talk show on 101.3FM, launched the podcast series in December, building on the work of Charlottesville Inclusive Media to bring more of our community’s perspectives into critical conversations. The segments are called First Person Charlottesville and folks can hear them by subscribing to In My Humble Opinion on iTunes, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts. Charlottesville Inclusive Media is a partnership between the radio program, Vinegar Hill Magazine and Dexter Auction.

See more of Nichelle's pictures in Vinegar Hill Magazine.

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