In 2011, I took a drive between West Palm Beach and Belle Glade, Florida. I had recently been reminded that Belle Glade was featured in the ending of Zora Neale Hurston’s book Their Eyes Were Watching God, when Janie and Tea Cake escape to work in the bean and sugar fields of the Everglades.
I am not from Florida, and I had never been to visit before this trip, but I knew I would be struck, travelling from my friends’ childhood home to the outskirts of Belle Glade, by the economic shift that exists within a one-hour drive. In the past, Belle Glade has been cited with having everything from the highest rate of occurrence of AIDS in the nation, to having one of the highest rates of violent crime. West Palm Beach, in contrast, has been listed as one of the “10 Best Places for the Wealthiest Retirees.” (U.S. News).
Tracking Disparity: From West Palm to Belle Glade is a collection of photographs captured in Southern Florida. The original aim of the project was to document economic disparity in Palm Beach, by travelling from the wealthiest to the poorest part of the county. However, I walked away from the experience with a much a deeper sense of the ways that history, disease, and violence make their mark on the visual landscape of a region, which only work to propel this disparity forward.