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It’s been a rough couple of months.

Senseless violence against unarmed blacks in churches, at routine traffic stops, and in our communities has left people of color reeling. 

For black millennials, watching these tragedies play out in the news and social media has been a recurring punch in the gut. We are grieving. We are angry. And with all the bad, we’re starved for good. 

Now it’s not Black History Month. But this week I thought, wouldn’t it be great to celebrate black people, just for being black? Nothing is more positive than flipping the script. Where there is oppression we will uplift. And where there is hate, we’ll inject love.

These photos taken by Washington, DC photographer Roland Agli do just that. They are serene, breathtaking, and most importantly, they are a celebration of black bodies in all their glorious splendor.

There is no need to search for deep meaning in these works. They are portraits of black people– just being black– and reveling in their blackness. 

“I photograph people who need to be empowered,” says Roland. “A friend of mine who’s also a  photographer just stopped taking photos a while ago. So I reached out and had him be the subject in a photoshoot. Standing in front of that  camera and having to use his body to create made him fall back in love with art.”

“Some of these people are my friends; some are artists; some I don’t know even know. But all of them needed to be empowered.”

These photos are important. And they couldn’t have come at a better time. 

Troi Rawlings (@troitherealest), Photographed at the National Arboretum in Washington, DC
Troi Rawlings (@troitherealest), photographed at the National Arboretum in Washington, DC
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Thomas Yolain, 27, photographed in Washington, DC
Valentino Emwin (@Attile_), Photographed in a private studio located in Rockville, Maryland black professional
Valentino Emwin (@Attile_), photographed in a private Rockville, Maryland studio 
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Dele Alaran (@two_syllables), photographed in the woods of Laurel, Maryland
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Baelor Williams (@killerlipstick), photographed in private studio
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Jessica Soares, photogaphed at the National Portrait Gallery
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Nadia (@kentekinks), photographed at United States Botanical Gardens
Brandon Combs, strikes a pose on the mean streets of Laurel Maryland
Brandon Combs, strikes a pose on the mean streets of Laurel Maryland