The protests she went to looked nothing like they did on TV. So she brought her camera.

A stranger raised his voice and threw a middle finger her way. Patience Zalanga froze.

This was not the first time someone had reacted violently to her presence. And it likely wouldn't be the last.

Zalanga is a badass photographer.

A black woman and long-term resident of St. Paul, Minnesota, Zalanga recently moved to the St. Louis metro area. But when she heard about the shooting of Philando Castile, she hopped in a car and went back home.


Not just to mourn. Not just to protest. But to stand side by side with her community, and celebrate strength in blackness without apology.

Naturally, she brought her camera, too.

All photos by Patience Zalanga, used with permission.

Zalanga has worked as a photographer for the last four years. But she didn't always use her camera for activism.

"It wasn't until two years ago, when Ferguson happened, that I decided to use my camera for ... purposes other than taking head shots," she said.

Zalanga arrived in Ferguson about a week before the grand jury announced their findings. During that first visit, she said, she was too worried for her safety to bring her camera.

"I was really scared that [the police] would confiscate my camera ..." she explained, "I was really worried ... I would be a target."

Eventually, she returned home to Minnesota. But hours after she got home, the grand jury announced they would not indict Officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown.

Zalanga and her friends were watching it on the news when they decided they should go back. And this time, Zalanga took her camera, too. She wanted to document the real action — the stuff no one was seeing on the news.

Over time, Zalanga has become bolder and more confident about her storytelling.

She's gone from not bringing her camera at all to standing on the front lines of the action to record history.

"When I take pictures, it's so weird, but white men just have this track record of them getting up in my face and being super bold," Zalanga said. "I'm [5 feet 2 inches] ... and I only have a camera, that's the only weapon I have on me. And yet they feel very, very compelled to intimidate me with their bodies, with their language."

The man you read about at the beginning of this piece got upset when Zalanga started taking pictures at an impromptu demonstration at a hair salon. She says he jumped out of his chair and immediately got in her face.

"In that moment, my heart was racing. Everything went in slow motion," she said.

But while the experience felt lonely, Zalanga wasn't alone.

"All of a sudden, I had 10 black people surrounding me," she says. It was the other demonstrators, standing by her side. As always, her community had her back.

Now, Zalanga sees herself as an activist as well as a photographer.

"When I made the decision to start documenting, at first I was doing it for everyone," she said. "But I feel like through my photography ... my style has somewhat changed, and it's definitely more ... centered on black people."

She often shoots in black and white to draw parallels between the contemporary struggles of black Americans and the civil rights movement of the 1960s.

"For me, it's important to shoot in black and white because it really forces you to pay attention to the subject and what's happening."

The photos here were taken in July 2016 during protests outside the Minnesota Governor's Mansion in St. Paul.

While residents and community members were decidedly heartbroken about the death of Philando Castile — "There was a lot of frustration, a lot of rage, and a lot of anger," Zalanga said — events at the mansion have been altogether peaceful.

And for Zalanga, capturing these moments in the movement is more than a passion or a profession — it's a duty to humankind.

She hopes her work will serve as an archive, capturing not just moments of pain and struggle, but celebration and joy. Through her work, Zalanga says she is signal boosting a narrative we all need to hear.

"That's the main reason why I do what I do," she said. "I'm really curious about what pictures are going to be put in history books," she said.

And we can all do our part to pay attention, really listen, and share the stories and images coming out of places where this movement is taking shape every day. History is happening right this minute, and we can all do our part to ensure traditionally underrepresented voices are at the center of it.

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I'm staring at my screen watching the President of the United States speak before a stadium full of people in North Carolina. He launches into a lie-laced attack on Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, and the crowd boos. Soon they start chanting, "Send her back! Send her back! Send her back!"

The President does nothing. Says nothing. He just stands there and waits for the crowd to finish their outburst.

WATCH: Trump rally crowd chants 'send her back' after he criticizes Rep. Ilhan Omar www.youtube.com

My mind flashes to another President of the United States speaking to a stadium full of people in North Carolina in 2016. A heckler in the crowd—an old man in uniform holding up a TRUMP sign—starts shouting, disrupting the speech. The crowd boos. Soon they start chanting, "Hillary! Hillary! Hillary!"

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via EarthFix / Flickr

What will future generations never believe that we tolerated in 2019?

Dolphin and orca captivity, for sure. They'll probably shake their heads at how people died because they couldn't afford healthcare. And, they'll be completely mystified at the amount of food some people waste while others go starving.

According to Biological Diversity, "An estimated 40 percent of the food produced in the United States is wasted every year, costing households, businesses and farms about $218 billion annually."

There are so many things wrong with this.

First of all it's a waste of money for the households who throw out good food. Second, it's a waste of all of the resources that went into growing the food, including the animals who gave their lives for the meal. Third, there's something very wrong with throwing out food when one in eight Americans struggle with hunger.

Supermarkets are just as guilty of this unnecessary waste as consumers. About 10% of all food waste are supermarket products thrown out before they've reached their expiration date.

Three years ago, France took big steps to combat food waste by making a law that bans grocery stores from throwing away edible food.According to the new ordinance, stores can be fined for up to $4,500 for each infraction.

Previously, the French threw out 7.1 million tons of food. Sixty-seven percent of which was tossed by consumers, 15% by restaurants, and 11% by grocery stores.

This has created a network of over 5,000 charities that accept the food from supermarkets and donate them to charity. The law also struck down agreements between supermarkets and manufacturers that prohibited the stores from donating food to charities.

"There was one food manufacturer that was not authorized to donate the sandwiches it made for a particular supermarket brand. But now, we get 30,000 sandwiches a month from them — sandwiches that used to be thrown away," Jacques Bailet, head of the French network of food banks known as Banques Alimentaires, told NPR.

It's expected that similar laws may spread through Europe, but people are a lot less confident at it happening in the United States. The USDA believes that the biggest barrier to such a program would be cost to the charities and or supermarkets.

"The logistics of getting safe, wholesome, edible food from anywhere to people that can use it is really difficult," the organization said according to Gizmodo. "If you're having to set up a really expensive system to recover marginal amounts of food, that's not good for anybody."

Plus, the idea may seem a little too "socialist" for the average American's appetite.

"The French version is quite socialist, but I would say in a great way because you're providing a way where they [supermarkets] have to do the beneficial things not only for the environment, but from an ethical standpoint of getting healthy food to those who need it and minimizing some of the harmful greenhouse gas emissions that come when food ends up in a landfill," Jonathan Bloom, the author of American Wasteland, told NPR.

However, just because something may be socialist doesn't mean it's wrong. The greater wrong is the insane waste of money, damage to the environment, and devastation caused by hunger that can easily be avoided.

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Policing women's bodies — and by consequence their clothes — is nothing new to women across the globe. But this mother's "legging problem" is particularly ridiculous.

What someone wears, regardless of gender, is a personal choice. Sadly, many folks like Maryann White, mother of four sons, think women's attire — particularly women's leggings are a threat to men.

While sitting in mass at the University of Notre Dame, White was aghast by the spandex attire the young women in front of her were sporting.

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Men are sharing examples of how they step up and step in when they see problematic behaviors in their peers, and people are here for it.

Twitter user "feminist next door" posed an inquiry to her followers, asking "good guys" to share times they saw misogyny or predatory behavior and did something about it. "What did you say," she asked. "What are your suggestions for the other other men in this situation?" She added a perfectly fitting hashtag: #NotCoolMan.

Not only did the good guys show up for the thread, but their stories show how men can interrupt situations when they see women being mistreated and help put a stop to it.

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