Typical American Families

press, Typical American Families, community dialogue

Mackey, Knight, MailChimp: A Beautiful Band of 'Misfits'

Friday, September 18th, 2015 

BEAUTIFUL IN EVERY SHADE Directors Carlton Mackey, Director of the Ethics & the Arts Program at the Emory University Center for Ethics, and Ross Oscar Knight, international photographer and photo-culturalist, presented to the employees of MailChimp at their Ponce City Market headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia. While MailChimp is a corporate company, focused on email marketing services, CEO Ben Chestnut takes pride in the fact that his company is made up of “misfits” and has made it his mission to create a culture that celebrates difference and diversity within the workplace.

Chestnut met Mackey at Chestnut’s first meeting as a new member of the Emory Center for Ethics Advisory Board. At this meeting, Mackey presented his work on Typical American Families—a project that explores the beautiful spectrum of family and ways it crosses barriers of race, religion, ability, class, sexuality, and age. Chestnut invited Mackey to present to his company as part of the company’s “Coffee Hour” series, which invites “creative, interesting, thought-provoking, and downright weird people” to come to challenge the view’s of the employees and teach them something new. 

Just as several guest speakers before them, including Big Boi from Outkast and Ann Friedman, journalist and professional .GIF-master, Mackey and Knight challenged normative thinking through their presentation. Mackey and Knight brought the Typical American Families photo exhibit, shared stories from families that were part of the project, expressed their understanding of art and its role in social change, and communicated their overall philosophical approach to their work.

In my interview with Mackey, he linked the mission of the company with his work with Beautiful in Every Shade and Typical American Families, which, as he said, “celebrates the misfit and gives them an opportunity to affirm that identity.”

The presentation was widely received. People stressed the importance of Mackey and Knight’s work and the need to broaden the image pool of people seen and how they are seen. One person talked about how, even though evidence would show that diversity is all around him, when he stopped and thought about a ‘typical’ American family, the image that pops into his head is always a very normative one. He felt challenged by this realization.

Sure enough, Mackey and Knight achieved the mission of the Typical American Families project and pushed MailChimp employees to think about “What is typical? What is American? What is family?...and who gets to decide?” 

-Ashwini Krishnamurthy
Emory University Freshman and Ethics & the Art Program Intern

Typical American Families, press, news


Dear Supporters of Typical American Families,

We are thrilled to announce the reception and unveiling of our exhibit, Typical American Families –Atlanta,

winner of the 2014 One Region Atlanta IDEAS Challenge.

Please join Carlton Mackey and Ross Oscar Knight, as we celebrate you! 

Meet the families that participated in our photoshoots who represent the diversity of the American family.

You will hear stories and view how these Atlanta residents bridge faith and culture in our city. 

At this event, you'll gain insight into Mackey and Knight's inspiration for the project and get a behind the scenes glimpse of the making of this exhibit.  You’ll also be able to hear from the families themselves as they offer commentary on the experience of being part of this project and what they celebrate about their own families.

Typical American Families is one of four signature projects of BEAUTIFUL IN EVERY SHADE

The reception will begin at 6:30 pm on May 7th

at Emory University’s Center for Ethics

1531 Dickey Drive

Atlanta GA 30322

 Light hors d'oeuvres will be provided.


Please register to attend:



Contact Mika Pettigrew with questions.



50 Shades of Black, 50 Shades of Latino, Black Men Smile, community dialogue, Typical American Families

Emory University Students 'Eat and Engage' with BEAUTIFUL IN EVERY SHADE™ Creator

Emory University Senior and Resident Advisor Farida Bana invited BEAUTIFUL IN EVERY SHADE™ Creator Carlton Mackey to engage with Complex Hall residents in their 'Eat and Engage' series.

The group explored the possibilities of what can happen in the world when people take the risk to see themselves and each person they encounter as beautiful.

Typical American Families, news


We finally finished one of the hardest decision making processes in the life of Typical American Families to date. 15 Atlanta families from over 200 submissions have been chosen to receive a FREE PHOTO SESSION with celebrated international photographer Ross Oscar Knight.

These photo sessions will occur over the next two months and will culminate in a photography exhibit and a facilitated dialogue where each of the families will see their photos and meet the other chosen families for the first time. This event and the unveiling of the exhibit will take place at the Emory University Center for Ethics in the Spring.

Typical American Families (ATLANTA) was a winner of the 2014 One Region Atlanta Ideas Challenge Grant. The project is a component of the Ethics & the Arts Program and is a signature project of BEAUTIFUL IN EVERY SHADE, a grassroots movement created by Ethics & the Arts Program Director Carlton Mackey that seeks to celebrate the beauty found in every human being.

Leading up to the exhibit, Typical American Families will share some of the stories and photos of the Atlanta area families who submitted. These heartfelt, emotional, funny, and inspiring stories represent a beautiful spectrum of the diverse ways of 'being a family'. Crossing barriers of race, religion, ability, class, sexuality, and age this project seeks to celebrate the many manifestations family and to challenge some of the limited ways we've thought about it.

Join us every Monday and Thursday on our website and social media platforms where a new amazing family from those who submitted will be featured.

news, press, Typical American Families

Emory Report Feature: Photo project seeks Typical American Families

SCREEN SHOT from EMORY NEWS CENTER:    Carlton Mackey, shown here with his wife, Kari, and son, Isaiah, says the photo project is "all about celebrating a spectrum of identity and family makeup in American families — and there is a spectrum in this country, just as there is within my own family." Photo by Loni Schick

SCREEN SHOT from EMORY NEWS CENTER:  Carlton Mackey, shown here with his wife, Kari, and son, Isaiah, says the photo project is "all about celebrating a spectrum of identity and family makeup in American families — and there is a spectrum in this country, just as there is within my own family." Photo by Loni Schick

By Kimber Williams | Emory Report | Dec. 9, 2014

A community photography project created by Carlton Mackey, director of Emory's Ethics and the Arts Program, to celebrate the spectrum of differences within modern American families has been awarded a 2014-2015 "Ideas Challenge Grant" by One Region Atlanta.

"Typical American Families" is an online platform exploring a wider view of American families through photographic images.

This month, Mackey's project was among four applicants selected to receive an Ideas Challenge grant award from One Region Atlanta, an initiative of the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta.

In their application, Mackey and his creative partner, international photographer/photoculturalist Ross Oscar Knight, proposed utilizing their "Typical American Family" platform to help bridge faith and culture in Atlanta by creating a traveling photo exhibit.

The $2,500 grant will be used to offer free family portrait sessions with Knight to about 15 Atlanta families. Copies of those photographs will be given to each family and will also be displayed through a traveling exhibit, which will be unveiled in spring 2015 in a ceremony and public gathering at Emory's Center for Ethics.

READ COMPLETE Emory Report Story Here


press, Typical American Families, news, community dialogue, 50 Shades of Black

BEAUTIFUL IN EVERY SHADE Creator takes Emory Alumni Back to Class in San Francisco

CLICK To Enlarge | More Info and Registration At: bit.ly/1tzTSQA 

Event title:   Back to Class: Emory in San Francisco

Event date:   November 15, 2014 9:30 AM  -  3:15 PM PT

Parc 55 Wyndham San Francisco - Union Square 
55 Cyril Magnin St. 
San Francisco, CA 94102
 P: 415.392.8000


The coolest thing about being an adult is that you can learn about anything that interests you. There are no core classes or tests to worry about, no homework or deadlines - just insatiable curiosity about new subjects and current issues.

Emory is bringing its brightest and best scholars and faculty leaders to Parc 55 Wyndham San Francisco - Union Square with our "Back to Class: Emory in San Francisco" event. 

Faculty Speakers: 


Carlton Mackey 05T

Creator of Beautiful In Every Shade

Assistant Director of the D. Abbott Turner 
Program in Ethics and Servant Leadership
Emory University Center for Ethics

Beautiful in Every Shade: Looking at You, Discovering Me

In this engaging session, Carlton Mackey 05T will discuss how his idea to post an illustration he designed onto the internet evolved into a global dialogue about skin tone, sexuality, beauty, and the changing face of the "typical" American family. With striking images, candid stories from people all over the world, and reflections from Mackey's own narrative that began right here in San Francisco, this session will challenge you to think critically about self-identity, how it is formed, and how a deep dive into one's self may lead to startling revelations about one's connection to others.

Elena Conis

Associate Professor of History
Emory College of Arts and Science

To Vaccinate or Not to Vaccinate?

Vaccines and vaccination were once considered crowning achievements of modern medicine and public health, but in recent years they’ve become highly controversial. More and more parents stand accused of under-vaccinating their children and believing in vaccine conspiracy theories. Medical experts lament the rise of diseases previously well-controlled by vaccines, such as measles and whooping cough. This presentation uncovers the true origins of contemporary vaccine worries and reveals the real reasons why vaccination is such a contentious issue in modern times.

Peter Roberts

Professor of Organization & Management
Goizueta Business School

Accelerating Micro-Entrepreneurs in Low-Income Communities

Micro-entrepreneurs establish very small businesses that support themselves and their families, while collectively supplying a range of products and services, along with a sense of purpose and vitality to local economies. They also face serious challenges in low-income communities. Professor Roberts discusses why he believes that (1) it is critically important to cultivate microbusinesses in low-income communities; (2) there are promising micro-entrepreneurs living in these communities; and (3) we can indeed influence the business knowledge, networks and capital that that these micro-entrepreneurs need to succeed.

Doug Shipman 95C


Doug Shipman 95C, president of the Emory Alumni Board, is the CEO of the new Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta, prior to which he was a global consultant for Boston Consulting Group. Recognized by the press for his expertise and community contributions, Doug is frequently called upon to guest lecture at universities and provide insight to global institutions. With a longstanding commitment to service, Doug continues to take the lead in many philanthropic ventures and guide conversations about civil and human rights.

Diogo Anyigbo 10C 15M 15PH

Student Speaker

Chidiogo “Diogo” Anyigbo 10C, 15M, 15PH is a dual degree student who was born in Nigeria and grew up in Houston, TX. A member of the Omicron Delta Kappa National Leadership Honor Society, she graduated from Emory College in 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in Neuroscience & Behavioral Biology. Diogo serves as the president of the Emory Pipeline Program, an interdisciplinary mentorship and health science education program for disadvantaged high school students.

Back to Class: Emory in San Francisco
Host Committee

Olivia Jovais 10C
Sahiti Karempudi 05Ox 07C
Nicolai Lundy 09C
Robin Norvell 02C
Emma Rosenbluth 07C
Lori Schectel 96C
Farae Strickland 98C

Typical American Families, press

Beautiful In Every Shade Awarded Grant for Family Project

Carlton Mackey & Ross Oscar Knight all smiles after the One Region Atlanta Ideas Challenge Award Ceremony at Georgia Public Broadcasting

Carlton Mackey & Ross Oscar Knight all smiles after the One Region Atlanta Ideas Challenge Award Ceremony at Georgia Public Broadcasting

Typical American Families,  one of the two signature projects of the BEAUTIFUL IN EVERY SHADE Campaign, was awarded a grant by One Region Atlanta in an awards ceremony recorded at Georgia Public Broadcasting.

A $2,500 grant was presented to Carlton Mackey during the awards ceremony last month. Typical American Families will partner with Ross Oscar Knight Photography and several nonprofit organizations throughout the metro Atlanta area to implement their idea to bridge faith and culture through a photography exhibit, cultural dinner, and community dialogue. 

The One Region Atlanta Ideas Challenge asked residents of the Greater Atlanta region, “How would you use $5,000 to bridge cultures and faiths in your community?” A total of 12 semifinalists were selected based on creativity and innovation out of more than 150 entries. 

The semifinalists were invited to a workshop to help them improve their proposals, after which six finalists were selected to continue in the competition. Competitors created a video describing their idea and posted it to the One Region Atlanta Face Book page; public voting on the videos determined the top three winners.

press, Typical American Families

Typical American Families | One Region Atlanta Ideas Challenge Finalist

Original Posting from One Region Atlanta Blog at  www.oneregionatlanta.org/announcing-the-top-6-ideas-challenge-finalists/

Original Posting from One Region Atlanta Blog at www.oneregionatlanta.org/announcing-the-top-6-ideas-challenge-finalists/

On behalf of One Region Atlanta, an initiative of The Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta, we want to thank the semi-finalists, community experts, judges and volunteers who participated in the Ideas Workshop! We received nearly 200 ideas from across the metro Atlanta area – all from individuals who want to make a difference in their community to build bridges across cultures and faiths. We are now proud to announce the top six (6) finalists that stood out to the judges as those that had the most potential for impact, sustainability and bridge-building:

*        Casey Jones, Bridging Collegiate Interfaith Communities

*        Shannon Willow, Clarkston Art Collaboration

*        Aleathia Muhammad, Let’s Go Fly a Kite

*        Carlton Mackey, Typical American Families

*        Babba Jaden, Faiths Enlightened

*        Jody Leonard, Celebrating Culture through the Arts- for local public school children

ALL the ideas submitted were great and truly reflective of the heart and dedication of Greater Atlanta to make our region a better place! We hope you all will continue to follow the progress of the Ideas Challenge and vote for the top six (6) videos when they are posted in late June. Thank you so much for your participation and support of this community wide effort to make Atlanta a place where race, culture, and faith are embrace and valued!