What is Typical?

What is American?

What is a Family?

...and Who Gets to Decide?


Typical American Families is about celebrating the beautiful spectrum of the American family as well as removing both the 'exoticism' and stereotypes that are associated with being a (quote/unquote) 'non-traditional' American family.

It is also as much about re-imagining some of our narrowly held, normative understandings of what an american family can be and what one should look like.

We don't seek to define family.  We seek to celebrate the breadth of its many manifestations... and to explore new possibilities of what 'family' might be.



              What does your family look like?

multicultural, Inter-racial, tattooed, pierced, same sex, same gendered, multi partnered,
un-romantically partnered, multi-gendered, cross-generational, immigrant, no children,
many children, first-generation, single parent, other-abled, religious, inter-faith 
spiritual, black, brown, beautiful, american families
to be featured! 

-a fresh new look at families across america.


Carlton Mackey is the Creator of BEAUTIFUL IN EVERY SHADE, a grassroots empowerment movement and global brand with a mission to celebrate and affirm the beauty found in every human being. Typical American Families is one of four signature projects of BEAUTIFUL IN EVERY SHADE.

Mackey is the Assistant Director of the D. Abbott Turner Program in Ethics and Servant Leadership and the Director of the Ethics & the Arts Program for the Emory University Center for Ethics. Mackey is an advocate for the arts and believes in its power to bring about positive social change.  For 6 years he has served on the Board of Directors for the Wonderroot Center for Art and Social Change.

He also serves on the advisory boards of the Youth Theological InitiativeForeverfamily, an Atlanta non-profit supporting youth with one or more incarcerated parents, the Advisory Committee for the Emory University Office of LGBT Life and formerly on the inaugural advisory board of the Recording Academy's GRAMMY U.

Mackey is a professional artist and filmmaker.  In 2014 he won the One Region Atlanta IDEAS Challenge and received a grant for his idea to partner with Ross Oscar Knight and use Typical American Families to bridge faith and culture in the City of Atlanta.

Carlton and his wife Kari live in Atlanta's Historic West End Neighborhood with their son Isaiah.

Ross Oscar Knight is an artist who has an intense passion to understand humanity one photograph at a time. He uses his camera to open doors, gaining access to examine and capture the shared truths that bind us together. His strength in communication through imagery was born from his childhood stuttering, his search for a racial identity and his fascination with emotional expression.

Seven years ago he left a career in Engineering, Marketing, and Small Business Development to pursue his dream of becoming an international photographer. To date, he has traveled to five different continents to observe, participate in, and photograph cultural ceremonies that fulfill his passion to understand and then communicate the beauty of the human story unfolding. As a speaker he has trained over 500 amateur, aspiring and professional photographers and as a philanthropist he has supported cancer research, microfinance programs, youth fitness and mission trips to Haiti and Honduras. In 2013 Ross was named to the board of directors for WonderRoot and joined the Beautiful in Every Shade platform as co-director.

“Ross Oscar Knight uses his camera to open doors…”

Knight is a trusted member of the Professional Photographers of America and his images have appeared in various media outlets across the globe. Notably, CNN, Oprah Winfrey, HGTV, the NBA, Forbes and Essence have featured his work. Also, 20th Century Fox and Lifetime Television have expressed interest in his photo documentaries. His current fine art exhibits titled, Beauty in the Face of Destruction and Everyday Life India, are touring the U.S. In 2014, he published his first book containing selections of his work from the past 10 years. Ross and his wife, Brandi, reside in metro Atlanta with their daughter, Addison, and their Weimaraner, Bauer.

Grant winners Carlton Mackey and Ross Oscar Knight unveil Typical American Families-Atlanta photo exhibit at Emory University and organize transformative community dialogue.