After massive Black Lives Matter protests across the world last year, 23-year-old Clarisse Bosco and 25-year-old Gallican Buki were feeling hopeful. They saw so many people sharing resources, research and initiatives.
But soon after, they both felt that support die down. Their social media feeds went back to how they had been before.
"I kind of felt like my skin was a trend for two weeks, not really something to be taken seriously," Bosco said.
They set out to change that with their new project: Living With Black Skin, which they rolled out over Black History Month.
They wanted to showcase the unique lives of other young, Black people like themselves.
Bosco came up with the idea. Buki shot the photos and videos that went along with it.
The editing and packaging was a collaborative process. The project rolled out with videos, photos and quote cards on both of their Instagram accounts.
For Buki, the project was an outlet for his passion for photography, but also a way of sharing Black history and knowledge through channels he knows people will watch.
"As a Black person, you're not always represented fairly when it comes to the arts, but also just when you're being edited, you're blown out, you are just insanely contrasted, or sometimes people just don't want to put the work in and will just put you black and white," he said.
For Bosco, interviewing her friends and peers was a solid reminder that she's not alone out there.
"As Black people, we kind of forget to check on each other," Bosco said.
She said some of their close friends are among the people they interviewed for the project.
"We can go and talk to them about anything," she said. "But we never really talk about things like the struggle that we have as Black people. We don't talk about the struggles, you know, within the community and just keep our head to ourselves and keep pushing."
Response to Living With Black Skin has been overwhelming, according to the pair behind it. Teachers have approached them to ask if they can use the material in classes.
"[We've had] friends that we know that we may have grown up with or have lost touch with reach out and say how appreciative they are of the videos and how much they've learned," Bosco said.
The goal was always to spark conversation, and to keep authentic representation of Black lives at the front, something Buki said the project did really well.
"To see that [these conversations are] truly happening within various homes and also to just hear stories about how like this has definitely opened their eyes into seeing how that this is still happening right now: the micro-aggressions, the systemic racism and just, the hate towards Black people," he said.
"Because sometimes when you put statistics out there or stories or even newsletters, people are like, 'Hey, this is of the past. Why are you still bringing up the past?' But no, honestly, the support and the love and just the conversations that came out of that was just amazing."
The pair are considering continuing the project in some way, but haven't settled on anything concrete. In the meantime, it's their hope that the conversation doesn't just fade away now that Black History Month is over.
"These stories and these things that we live don't get to just end after a certain month or end after a certain trend," Bosco said.
"There's things that we still live with today and still carry forward. And if we stop talking about it, we stop making room for growth and for change."
For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of.