Sage Elsesser: "The collective rage black folks are experiencing today across this country is a direct response to the violence that fueled the birth of this nation"

How to transmute that anger into something beneficial?

by Sage Elsesser
21 September 2020, 3:33pm

Sage’s story originally appeared in up + rising, a celebration of extraordinary Black voices, and is the first chapter of i-D's 40th anniversary issue (1980-2020). i-D chronicled over 100 activists and artists, musicians and writers, photographers and creatives, in Atlanta, Baltimore, Minneapolis, LA, London, New York, Paris and Toronto.

“The collective rage black folks are experiencing today across this country is a direct response to the violence that fueled the birth of this nation. This violence takes a myriad of forms; economic, political, institutional, cultural, informational, religious and sexual. This same violence plagued the earth thousands of years ago in the European’s barbaric quest for power, driven by greed. 

I have been saddened by this reality, this generational pain, since I was a little boy. I am grateful to have been taught about the struggles we faced as black people, by my dear grandparents. I was fortunate enough to have been taught by amazing people the truth of the struggle and hardships of our people but also of the pride, resilience and beauty of my ancestors. I was taught that knowledge is power, but even with this knowledge, the reality of our struggle still feels like a wound that just won't heal.

Durag stylist's own

Being Black, we are accustomed to danger. We manoeuver through the world differently, to ensure our safety. So many of us were never given the chance to grow up, and so many of us have left the physical form – before we were meant to – at the hands of fear and ignorance. We are tired, and have been for centuries. It is no longer on us, alone, to make the change we wish to see. This pain and agony is embedded in our being, as the mark of our forefathers and foremothers who faced circumstances almost unimaginable. We have reached our wits end. 

Vest Vintage Helmut Lang from Artifact NY

Now is the time to educate ourselves on how to protect our spirits and peace of mind, because no one can take your peace of mind. Anger is natural... we are only human. We must transmute this anger into something beneficial, for ourselves and our loved ones. As Gil Scott-Heron said: “Soul, is the inexplicable epitome of blackness." I contemplate my life, soul and purpose everyday and try my best to embody this inexplicable essence in all I do.”

T-shirt Botter AW19. Jeans Lanvin.


Photography Philip-Daniel Ducasse
Styling Milton Dixon

Grooming Andrea Wilson at Next Artists.
Braids Tashana Miles for The Chair Beauty Loft using The Chair Beauty Products.
Photography assistance Setor Tsikudo and Courtney Harvier.
Casting director Samuel Ellis Scheinman for DMCASTING.
Casting assistance Alexandra Antonova.

Black Lives Matter