Nestled in the southeast corner of San Francisco, 45 minutes and many worlds away from Silicon Valley, lies Bayview-Hunters Point: an island of poverty in an otherwise upwardly mobile urban landscape.
A playground burns in Alice Griffith public housing, 2008. | (Alex Welsh)
In 2007, a housing project in Bayview-Hunters Point, called Hunters View, was rated the worst in the nation. That same year, Alex Welsh, then a photojournalism student at San Francisco State University, did a photo feature about the proposed plans for a new waterfront property, focusing on the residents' fears of further marginalization. When the story was complete, Welsh, who is white, returned to the predominantly black neighborhood, drawn to the young men and women who were his age but living vastly different lives. "I felt that the young men, in particular, were criminalized and not given a voice in the mainstream media," he said in an interview.
During a two-year period, Welsh was welcomed into the tight-knit community. And he captured neighbors, friends, and family experiencing the tragic as well as the ordinary and celebratory moments of life.
"[The] young men and women in marginalized neighborhoods across the country face seemingly identical and intractable obstacles such as violence, poverty, and criminalization in their day-to-day lives," Welsh said. Such obstacles, he said, are "rooted in the systematic inequalities of our nation as a whole."
Here are a selection of photos from Alex's project We Out Here:
Friends and family mourn Andre Helton, 18, who was shot and killed in his car, 2008. | (Alex Welsh)
Jermaine is arrested in Hunters View, 2008. | (Alex Welsh)
The Bread Me Out crew outside a laundromat, 2008. | (Alex Welsh)
Hunters View, 2009. | (Alex Welsh)
Speedy examines his chain, 2009. | (Alex Welsh)
The Pacific Gas and Electric Company looms in the background, 2007. | (Alex Welsh)
The night of Obama's election, 2008. (Alex Welsh)
A couple kisses in Alice Griffith, 2008. | (Alex Welsh)
Hunters View celebrates the life of Martel Peters, 2008. | (Alex Welsh)
Editor's note: A previous version of this article mischaracterized Bayview-Hunters Point. It has since been corrected. We regret the error.