Black Lives Matter: Hearing Stories With J Adams

Digital Specialist John “J” Adams speaks out on the value of listening to the people and telling stories during troubling times


June of 2020 will forever be marked in history as the time when people all over America took a stand against prejudice and the abuse of power by certain law enforcers. Chattanooga has not been immune to these struggles and thousands of have taken to its streets to speak out against discrimination that has taken place on the local and national levels. The topic has quickly turned heated as misinformation flies through social media and biased sources, making many of the messages that protestors and community members are trying to send be lost.


J Adams has heard them firsthand though and is doing his part to make sure everyone will know the story of these protests and the causes they are fighting for. Adams holds a special position during this time, as he is the Digital Specialist for the City of Chattanooga and Mayor Andy Berke. For many communities, there has been a large disconnect between authority figures and protesting citizens that has created an ‘us vs them’ mentality between them, but Adams is bridging this gap.


“At first I was unsure if I even wanted to take photos of the protests,” He shared. “I got curious though and after one of my shoots, I went to one and started documenting what was happening.”


Since then Adams has become incredibly active in the protests, despite many of them being focused on how unhappy some citizens are with local law enforcement and city officials. He created the Instagram account @blakchatt with the sole purpose of it being a place where the stories of those participating in the Chattanooga protests can be heard.


Adams has been using specific hashtags like listen and listening to help show the message that he wants to put out in the world through his photography and documenting of the protests. He doesn’t just want it to be photos of an event. He wants them to be a message for people to take a second to listen to what the people out there marching are actually saying instead of just listening to what media sites and other agenda seekers may be spinning as the narrative.


“I just hope that this makes people pay attention,” He said. “These are people with real feelings who just want them to be heard.”


When it comes to what Adams says people can be doing to help in creating change, he says that everyone has a different role to play. Beyond participating in protests, everyone can be using tools like social media to spread awareness of issues and start conversations and the spread of positive ideas. Adams says that we really need to take a step back to look at how we do law enforcement in America and then turn these conversations into policy.


“We are scared, sad, and angry. I want people to see that in the future and to actually stop and listen to why we feel this way.”


J Adams can be followed here on Instagram and make sure to check out @blakchatt to see how he is documenting the Chattanooga protests.


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