Jen White Johnson | Grant Recipient for Dear Me, Dear Us

[ Image Description: portrait of Jen White-Johnson in her office with a collage of activism art on the walls behind her, and a corner shot of her desk. ]

- - -Dear Me, Dear Us- - -

Jen's next photo zine is to be published with Homie House Press, and is entitled Dear Me. Dear Us. This project is coming to life as a love letter to BIPOC (especially black and brown), women, non-binary folx, and femmes, examining the intersection between being a disabled person of color and neurodiverse. 

Dear Me, Dear Us includes soulful and intimate photographic portraits of some of my favorite BIPOC disabled, neurodiverse creatives and community organizers. These portraits capture each subject and unveil an authentic aspect of their disability. The zine also features letters each collaborator has written to their childhood selves, followed by a letter written to their current adult selves and to the disability community at large as a way to amplify joy and encompass the Dear Me, Dear Us theme. The letters also address what it is like being a black/brown disabled person, and how increasing our visibility uplifts the entire culture. I've included myself in this project, and am very frank in sharing about my miscarriages, post traumatic stress, dyspraxia, stuttering, ADHD, and anxiety that have heightened due to thyroid disorder.

This project has been a long time in the making and Jen is thrilled to bring it to fruition this year!

[ Image Description: Afro-Latina Mother and Son standing next to each other. Mom is wearing her favorite black leather jacket. She has a top-knot and streaks of blond through her dark hair. She is wearing blue jeans with the knees frayed. She is also wearing her favorite black high top sneakers. She is smiling at her son. Her son is wearing a red puffer vest with a rainbow long sleeve shirt. He has an afro and is wearing blue headphones, he also wearing blue jeans and red sneakers. ]

- - - Artist's Bio - - -

Jen White-Johnson is a Afro-Latina, disabled artist, designer, educator, and activist, whose visual work explores the intersection of content and caregiving with an emphasis on redesigning ableist visual culture. As an artist-educator with Graves disease and ADHD, her heart-centered and electric approach to disability advocacy bolsters these movements with invaluable currencies: powerful, dynamic art and media that all at once educates, bridges divergent worlds, and builds a future that mirrors her Autistic son’s experience.

When her son was diagnosed as Autistic at age 2 she began to examine the absence of black disabled children in digital and literary media, this motivated the release of an advocacy photo zine entitled "KnoxRoxs." Dedicated to her Autistic son. The zine is a way to give visibility to children of color in the black Autistic community. The photozine helped to contribute to the rare framework centering autism acceptance in families of color, amplify conversations with the Disability community, igniting the continued need to develop anti-racist, and anti-ableist media. 

[ Image Description: Hand outstretched and holding a copy of Knox Rox photo zine against a colorful mural in purple, red, golden yellow and hot pink. ]

Jen's definition of Mothering as an act of Resistance means to redesign ableist visual culture. The sole intention is to empower and activate change encouraging communities to engage in conversations about acceptance, rooted in how Black neurodivergent children are valued and seen. 

The visuals she makes using photo and design are her own reflections that serve to amplify conversations with the Disability community. It ignites the continued need to develop anti-racist, anti-ableist media.

Since its release, the zine has received national and international recognition and is permanently archived in Libraries at the The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the National Museum of Women in the Arts. Her activist and advocacy work has been featured in The Washington Post, AfroPunk, New York Times, Teen Vogue, Rolling Stone, Crip Camp: The Official Virtual Experience, and she was selected as an honoree on the 2020 Diversability’s D-30 Disability Impact List.

[ Image Description: Jen giving a presentation pointing to a large projector slide on the wall, in a bright atrium filled with trees where an audience is listening. ] 

Jen currently teaches as an Adjunct Professor of Photography at Bowie State University, in Bowie, MD. 

Learn more about her art, life and activism work at and follower her @jtknoxrox

[ Image Description: Large bold "Black Disabled Lives Matter" mural, with fist symbol on a painted yellow background. ]