Who We Are.

Carlton Mackey is the Founder & Creative Director of 50 Shades of Black and Creator of BEAUTIFUL IN EVERY SHADE, a global empowerment movement comprised of 50 Shades of Black and 4 other signature projects.

Mackey is a professional artist and scholar. He is an adjunct professor of Film and Media Studies at Emory University.  He serves as the Director of the Ethics & the Arts Program  and the Associate Director of the Ethics and Servant Leadership (EASL) Program at the Emory University Center for Ethics.

Mackey's work blends his unique combination of social consciousness, creativity, and social connection to create powerful impressions.


Ross Oscar Knight is Director of International Initiatives for 50 Shades of Black.  Knight is an American artist who has an intense passion to understand humanity one photograph at a time. He combines his curiosity of universal love and spirituality to fuel his thirst to explore different cultures. Knight has the ability to observe and distill human emotion down to its very essence. His strength in communication through imagery was born out of his childhood speech impediment. Since he believes life is lived in moments and not in poses, mobility and time travel are recurrent themes in his work. Whether in rural Alabama or a remote village in Africa, he uses his camera as a tool to forge new relationships and to frame stories ever-present in people’s lives.


Christopher Barker is the Art Director of the 50 Shades of Black Vol 1 Coffee Table Book.

Barker is an Atlanta native and art director who began his career as founding art director for Fenuxe Magazine. He has since been a asset to other Atlanta based publications and agencies and enjoys providing custom design solution to a host of freelance clients. 









Founded by Photographer, Graphic Designer, and New York native Chris Charles, Creative Silence specializes in portraiture, editorial, and wedding photography, as well as working in graphic design and brand development.  Charles initially partnered with Mackey to design the now ubiquitous square logo for the overall BEAUTIFUL IN EVERY SHADE movement. 

Currently based in North Carolina, Chris' natural gift for photography and formal training in graphic design are seamlessly fused to produce high quality artwork for the discerning and creative client, while infusing an aesthetic not commonly seen in the local market.

To date, Creative Silence worked with Grammy Award™ Winning producer 9th Wonder, 6 time Grammy™ Nominated Jazz vocalist Nnenna Freelon, award winning Architect and Fine Art Photographer Phil Freelon, and Grammy Nominated group The Foreign Exchange Music.  Creative Silence has been published in Vogue Italia, The Daily News Observer, and Essence Magazine.


In no time, Dexter Ryan Jones has appealed to the souls and the minds of anyone in the New York scene who consider themselves fans of emerging underground art. Born in Brooklyn, he has a deep background in spoken word poetry and the performing arts. He gave birth to SirReal Photography in an effort to find a more behind-the-scenes way of expressing himself. Now using photography to tell his stories, he showcases his versatility as an artist using nature, a spectrum of saturated colors, and a number of references ranging from classic voices in Black American media to historic cultural/visual traditions found around the world. 

Dexter is one of the youngest artists to have work featured in the Fela Kuti exhibit at the Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute (CCCADI), the Dandy Lion exhibit at MoCADA, Neekid Blk Gurls in the Rush Arts Gallery curated by Danny Simmons, and in 2013 Dexter was featured in his first solo art exhibition entitled, “Knight(ed)”.  He’s worked with such acclaimed artists as Dread Scott, Patra, Brian Kirhagis, Grammy Award Winners, Bridget Kelly & Arrested Development, Derrick Ashong of Oprah Radio, Aaron Hall and more.

B. Alyssa Trofort is a sports and portraiture photographer for commercial and editorial clients, based in Miami, FL. 

A graduate from Virginia Commonwealth University in May 2013, she received her Bachelor's in Fine Art for Photography & Film. She has been published in numerous publications including PEOPLE magazine, Richmond Magazine, KRAVE Fit Magazine, UPTOWN Magazine, Elegant Magazine, and many more. Her resume extends to working as a photography and production assistant, assistant to prop stylist, freelance camera operator, and grip for various photography and film sets. She is determined to become the master of her craft, using every day as a blueprint to learn, grow, and create.



C.FLUX.SING is an Artist of many different expressions. From Illustration to Painting to Digital Illustration to Graphic Design to Advertising. I started doing Commercial Art at the age of 15 with a Logo for Springfield High School’s Senior T-Shirts. Always have been drawing and continuing to enjoy it. It’s a tough world out here and I’m trying to keep all the bullscript from destroying the happiness! 


Andrew Thomas Clifton has emerged in the world of photography as an imaginative and consistently evolving photographer. Raised in a variety of cities across the vast environments of the United States, he offers a uniquely genuine and consistently heartfelt vision of the people, places, and things that are apart of the world around us. Andrew has no formal training or teaching, but a deep rooted love for photography and for subjects that find themselves on the oposite side of his camera. He constantly combines that love with his other passions of science, poetry, and vintage motion pictures in a way that is uniquely his own.

Surrounded by her mother’s endless craft projects, and influenced by her Uncle Jeffrey B. Jones, a creatively gifted seasoned photographer, Coles’ creativity manifested itself in her life in many forms before she honed in and nurtured her skills as a photographer. Coles captures the beauty in the most unexpected moments—the way car lights dance through the curves of a busy freeway, a subtle joke shared between lovers and most recently she has turned the camera on herself in a journey of self exploration. Each photograph TT Coles frames screams with passion and like all great photographers, capture moments of life that echo with a timeless appeal. TT Coles frames screams with passion and like all great photographers, capture moments of life that echo with a timeless appeal.'

50 Shades of Black Vol.1 Book Cover Photo by TT Coles

Founded by scientist, Melissa Creary, Moments in Macro Photography, specializes in capturing global and cultural visions of people and places. Melissa has no formal training, but she merges her passion of science and art and love for photography to capture sacred moments.

Based in Atlanta and soon Brazil, Moments in Macro Photography believes in telling a whole and authentic story through the lens.

Saddi Khali:

Black people need 2 see images of ourselves w/ humanity. women beautiful regardless of size, shape or complexion. men strong, sensitive & loving. parents & children caring & happy. couples in love in warm intimate moments. us as lovers, sensual & sexy but not nasty even when we’re nasty. this is not 2 say that other folks don’t need 2 see themselves in certain ways. but, i don’t know those ways. i DO know how my folks r being fooled by & misrepresented in arts & media. & i DO know how its affecting us. so, all the work i do is in the intention of combating that.


Fahamu Pecou (b. 1975) is an American painter based in Atlanta, Georgia whose intention is to comment on contemporary and hip-hop culture while simultaneously subverting it to include his ideas on fine art.  His most recent work addresses concerns around representations of black masculinity and how these images come to define black men across generations and geographical boundaries




Tanisha Lynn Pyron aka (PRETTYFIRE) is an artist, creative photographer, storyteller, and media entrepreneur currently working on her MFA in acting and launching PRETTY FIRE as a media brand. The young artist considers herself to be a modern day griot focusing on telling stories that redefine and re-appropriate "BLACK AMERICANA" highlighting and finding the beauty in the contradictions, pain and pride within "our stories" and thus hoping to discover and re-claim the beauty within her own. She has used her acting, poetry, dance and movement and now photography as modalities for making sure her creative vision and voice are seen, heard and felt. In her own words Tanisha expresses, "To me the art and the artist are one. As I seek to unlock and express what is contained in my own heart and to heal and celebrate my own beauty and spirit. The art will speak to who it needs to. "


Robyn La'Beaud is the Associate Producer of the 50 Shades of Black Vol. 1 Coffee Table Book.

Robyn is a raw vegan personal chef, massage therapist, and lifestyle coach with a desire to change the world one healthy body at a time.  She believes that one's life experiences can create, build, and even bridge through life itself and all the challenges that life brings.  She believes that true health starts from within and radiates without. 

I have been blessed with a unique opportunity to have rubbed shoulders with greatness (50 Shades of Black).  We are not always aware of the gift of those who may be in our very presence. Let's start the Conversation by saying & thinking I AM Beautiful in every shade. Let our thinking become a Reality NOW.


Nina C. Brewton describes herself as “a writer who speaks and a speaker who sings.” Whether hosting, performing or writing, she seeks to inspire others in all she does.

The native of Wichita, Kansas is a veteran of the United States Air Force and currently lives in Hampton, Virginia with her husband Raphael.

From large assemblies to intimate classroom settings, Mrs. Brewton is available to speak, perform or host your next event - at your school, church, conference or private function.

She is the author of a memoir, Dramas of a Bald Head Queen, and Heart of a Queen – Poetry and Prose from the Soul. She is currently working on, a tribute to sisterhood, Sangin’ Like Shug Avery.

Nina's Personal Website


"Nicholas Harbor" came about from an idea that I had in my mind inspired by the "Naruto" character Minato Namikaze, whose name means "Harbour Waves and Wind." What he and his name represented inspired me to come up with a Harbor/Water theme which tied into another idea that a, for lack of a better word, psychic gave me a few years back. He read my aura and told me that my power is in my words and my voice. He said that he saw my power as water flowing from my mouth and that I could either use my gift to nourish people or drown and destroy them. All of those things together got me to thinking that if the mind (and mouth) are a harbors, safe havens, for our thoughts and feelings, then this new venture, "Nicholas Harbor," will be the harbor for my thoughts, articles and blogs. So, I hope you feel nourished and entertained, and I hope you enjoy the waters.

Follow Nicholas Harbor's 50 Shades of Black Contributions

Nicholas Harbor's Personal Website

Jimmy II Sticks (James Felton Keith) is not an alias. It’s the nick name his Dad still calls him, because he is the second one. JFK is the founder of the Keith Institute, former President of the Detroit Regional LGBT Chamber of Commerce and management consultant focused on the ethnography of technology, living between Johannesburg, NYC, and Detroit. He is the author of Integrationalism and a former faculty at Michigan State University and appointee of Detroit mayor Mike Duggan. His understanding of "black" is broad. Identity plays a vital role in his political, economic, socio-cultural, and technological decisions. While many umbrella terms may define him well, he identifies as a Black bisexual polyamorous and male. His race is not a choice, it's also not consistent with his actual ethnicity. His orientation is not a choice, although its evolution has been a result of his decisions to explore his attractions to all gender types. His desirable relationship structure is a choice, as it accommodates his growth. Contrary to how gender is normally viewed, his gender is a choice; as humans have the technological ability to modify gender as they please. He understands that gender is not a choice for everyone. Lastly, he understands there to be greater than two gender types, which is why he identifies as a pansexual or bisexual.