Finding-Looting: Comparing Representations in the Visual Reporting of Hurricane Katrina in new Orleans
Flickr user dustin3000 uploaded two similar news photos; each of a flood victim in New Orleans wading in chest high water with boxes and bags.
Caption 1 under the very dark skinned person: " A young man walks through chest deep flood water after looting a grocery store in New Orleans"
Caption 2under the light skinned person: "Two residents wade through chest-deep water after finding bread and soda from a local grocery store..."
I did not post this picture as an example of Racism - I reposted this because I thought it was an opportunity to examine why certain words were chosen and to question if skin color played any role. But keep in mind that these photographs were taken by 2 different photographers, in two different situations and captioned by 2 different copy-editors from 2 different companies. Had the 2 pictures been taken by the same photographer AND captioned by the same copy editor, then the racial motives behind the copy-editor's word choice could be equivocated.
What's interesting about the the juxtapostion of these two photos is that when compared, one can see how word choice can greatly affect the way a viewer extricates meaning from an image. The nature of comparing 2 items in an analytical world is just that - to get you to critically analyze the photos and astutely pull out larger themes that offer insight to other topics that otherwise wouldn't be as apparent.
To inculpate the 2 photographers, 2 copy editors, and American media for being racist, is not the most cogent claim in this situation nor is it the point. This is not to say that media is not bias when it comes to playing on stereotypes - but the last thing we should do is participate in the supposedly "black versus white" paradigm - America's race problem is much bigger and more complicated than that.