Stella Street                                                                                                             1992

Stella Street is a series spanning nearly ten months in 1992, examining the opioid epidemic that ravaged communities in Northeast Philadelphia. Written by David Zucchino, the work was originally titled “Badlands: In the Grip of Drugs” reflecting the police department’s derogatory nickname for the area. While the series was conceived as a response to another publication’s intentionally misconstrued depiction of Stella Street, the photos still acted as an appendage of state power. It centered around the binary of good and evil, of cops and crackheads, of honest citizens and depraved addicts. The work contributed to a narrative that demonized Black and Brown communities, in a city where a racist mayor had ended his term just twelve years prior.

 

Today, the work bears deeper introspection as it relates to our understanding of police brutality, drug addiction, and housing rights issues. It remains on the website to critically reflect on the historical biases of photojournalism and responsibilities of a photojournalist.

Published in the Philadelphia Inquirer, April 5 - 12, 1992, and December 20 - 21, 1992.