My point is not to say that one group is better than the other but rather that you simply can't know what someone is capable of without getting to know them.
The other part of the message that I hope makes a big impact is that you shouldn't let anyone tell you what you are capable of. There are many different kinds of ability and strength. My prayer is that some people who may have given up and accepted a role that they did not choose will find hope and work towards a life that they want.
CNN: What do you think we need to do as a society to better accept differences in others?
Steel: The best way is simply to teach and encourage people to individualize. Simply learning about different conditions or religions is not enough to know all of the people that have those conditions and/or practice those religions.
In my project, I included interviews along with the portraits so that the viewer could get a real sense of who they were. I recently curated "Inside the Outsider," a photography exhibition for Mason Murer Fine Art. The theme was about how we have all felt like an outsider in some way, and in that way, we are all the same. I think if we took that to heart, we would realize that there isn't anything that we are going through that no one else is and that no one is as different from us as we may think that they are.
We have to teach ourselves to suspend our initial judgments and get to know a person before we form our opinion of them. What makes it difficult is that out of self-defense, we instinctively attempt to categorize people and things to avoid possible dangers.
I am not suggesting that we ignore our gut feelings entirely but rather that we suspend our final judgments until we have more information.