*** This title is on pre-sale. Ships Fall 2021.
Hardcover, 240 pages
8.5 x 11 in
By Ruvan Wijesooriya
Joy Became the Resistance documents and represents a year of BLM protests in New York City.
When Ruvan Wijesooriya went out to photograph the first protest, he quickly understood this was American history in real time. “Did I just capture the first punch!?!” Ruvan wondered, before it sunk in that he was watching a concerted effort on the part of police, police unions, white supremacists, and the highest levels of government to overthrow democracy in America.
While the magazine Ruvan was on assignment for gave him a kill fee to not publish the work, he knew the story needed to be told nevertheless. Thus he became a photographer for the youth-led, local protest groups instead. As a 42-year-old brown man, he was safer from police than the younger Black, LGBTQ+, and female protesters, allowing him opportunities to capture the complicated, momentous, and more dangerous protests. It began to feel as if the responsibility might have chosen him. The organizers, too, understood what he was trying to do and trusted him with access. His network of relationships grew and he became an elder in the community, introducing organizers across activism genres and creating The Activist Summit.
Ruvan’s protest photography ranges in span and purpose. While some of it documents the positivity and community birthed from solidarity, another function of these images is as hard evidence of police brutality, false accusations against protesters, police conspiring with the military, false accusations, and of the NYPD rioting against protesters on Martin Luther King Day, and more. It was immediately clear that sticking around might make a difference.
The summer of 2020 was a surreal time in New York City, and this book speaks to Ruvan’s effort to represent and spread the values of the movement in the name of all of those who suffered at the hands of police abusing their power.