What is Chasing Heights?
“You’re not who you think you are.”
That’s what they will tell you. You’ll stand alone in the mirror and ask yourself, who am I? When that moment comes, when those self-analyzing questions arise; You’ll look around and realize you’re the only one who can answer the question. You are not alone, I have also felt this. We have all felt that unique quake in time that has now marked the skin of our history. Many of us have felt so lost and sorrowful looking out from stained windows and shaky fire escapes while lusting for the success of others. Whether it was by screaming it in the streets, posting a tweet, or wearing it on our backs. We all have felt struggle and pain and felt the unity for fighting for something bigger than ourselves.
Like clockwork, we’ve awakened each day to undergo the lack of normalcy that leaves us to question our adaptability to the new standards of living. Covid has forced us to lean on our own shadows, at least from a respectable distance, until we realized we need someone to hug. For the last eight months, I have watched the center of the world fight to survive in unison. NYC was hit the hardest during the pandemic and its burrows, united people, and local communities felt a familiar struggle. Each of them has changed for the better……or sadly, the worse. However, one spirit I never saw go forgotten was the spirit of the chase. The spirit to chase your dreams and follow your heart is what makes New York City magically. Even through the struggle of COVID-19, the energy that feeds the city was still striving.
What is Opportunity?
Being a young artist with a devotion to fashion and music, I still chase opportunity. I think back to a time where I was free enough to march to the beat of NYC while wearing the latest fashions. Every creative puts a great deal of time and thought into their looks. It’s as if their lives could be permanently changed by the very outfit they wore that day. Each day Black and Brown creatives meticulously dress for the magical opportunity that they pray for. It’s a continuous chase each morning and it inspires and drains us.
Whether they travel from Brooklyn, The Bronx, Harlem, Queens, or my neighborhood of Washington Heights, we each walk around our urban communities with confidence in knowing we are fighting for better futures.
What is Inspiration?
The Chasing Heights editorial is inspired by the way creatives unapologetically live their lives in addition to what I watched my neighborhood endure during the pandemic. Each component of my inspiration has had the choice to selfishly divide. However, they have selflessly chosen to come together to support each other. Once the entrapment phased out, before my very own eyes, I saw that the chase outside had resumed like clockwork. It resembled how I creatively fight for my chase. Dressing like I would meet the gig of my dreams. My favorite deli guy, the local Papi selling icy treats, the local fruit stand lady, and the honest block boys each dressed and fought for their chases in the same way.
The noble spirit of this beloved city hasn’t gone lost like it may have seemed. It had only paused for a moment to breathe and remember what matters in reality. During my youth, I recall the moment my grade school teacher rolled the television into the classroom to watch the World Trade Center fall. I had no idea what was going on. How could I even have a clue when I had yet to experience the world around me. Even though I was confused and scared, I understood the sorrow I had for people I never met before. Married with confusion was the feeling of terror that shook through my youthful body. The humans of New York City and the humans of our nation united to be there when it mattered. We all need someone to lean on and this moment is repeating it’s self.
What is Control?
When that unique quake in time fell upon us, and we no longer had the joyous responsibility of the chase. I felt so contained and controlled with no explanation. I could feel the world restlessly shaking underneath my feet. For a moment, I became lost in the chaos. Even with the spirit to keep calm and carry on in my peers, my control was gone.
The sense of community and compassion can be easily overlooked
by the hard exterior of New York City. In reality, we all have somewhere to go, something to chase, and someone to become. We each move at a godspeed so fast that as individuals we often forget what we truly need. That is until the trains and everything else around us stopped. Granting us the New York minute to realize that everything we need was right in front of us the entire time. Covid weirdly slowed down the grind for us. However, we needed it. Control needed to be lost in order to be found again.
What is Support?
The definition of support is: to give help to, especially financially, to enable, to function, or act. A benefactor is a person who gives money or other help to a person or cause. The decisions we make each day to put actions behind our words and become a benefactor to our local communities and its united people is a decision that should never be questioned. When you do good, GOOD is the only action that will come back to you.
The support that we have given has aided us all to survive a pandemic that has lasted longer than expected. My neighborhood, just like the others around the world, has only survived for one reason and one reason only. SUPPORT. You’re not who you think you are. You are strong, resilient, and compassionate and that’s who I learned I am.
What is Reflection?
Upon my first decision to come to New York City in 2015, I received important advice. A wise man once told me that this city is magical and would inevitably do three things for me. He told me this beast of a city would send me back home to Chicago with tears in my eyes if I let it. He said this city would give me everything my wildest dreams could ever imagine if I worked for it. Lastly, he told me this city would reveal to me my truest self if I could handle the sight of the man looking back at me.
The joy of summer has now come to an official close, inviting us to say hello to the season of change. The branches will become bare and the leaves will change their colors. However, let us not forget what has changed within the core of ourselves this year. These changes will last a lifetime and signify a shift within ourselves and our communities.
As the temperature drops each day, moving closer to the ball drop, never forget how hot our hearts were burning during the chase this summer. Whether you are a creative with fashion dreams, an essential worker with mouths to feed, or the honest block boy with real-life responsibilities, don’t stop chasing new heights.
Don’t forget that we each need someone to lean on when we are not strong enough to survive. We each have a purpose, a responsibility, and a duty to our families, communities, and cities. However, most importantly we have the responsibility to the heights and to the dreams we WILL reach one day.
Chasing Heights Essay by: Brandon Foster
Photographer: Steve Warren, @_stevewarren. Creative Director: Brandon Foster. Fashion Curator: Dalia Drake @daliadrake. Wardrobe Stylist: Brandon Foster @thebrandonfoster. Hair & Makeup: Kiara Simmons @_mohnsta. Model: Iyanla Kalifa Galletti @yathegod. Production Assistant: Ashley Oaks, @_auntieash. Flying Solo @flyingsolonyc DREEMS PR @dreems.nyc