Saturday Open Thread [8.16.14]

Filed in Open Thread by on August 16, 2014

Have you been following the #iftheygunnedmedown campaign? As the conversation has evolved this week about how Americans see its black men, it is black men (and women) who have taken to Twitter to ask the question: Which picture of me would the media and authorities use to represent me if I was gunned down by the police today? Here are a few of them:

You can see more at the If They Gunned Me Down Tumblr; Twitter and various other places following this hashtag.

What is remarkable to me about these images and the ready way people have jumped in to participate is that these young men and women already understand how their images are being used against them. They understand that the (mostly) adolescent preening and posing and general foolishness to look more adult is more likely to be used to create an entire negative narrative about who they are (leveraged from the usual stereotypes of young black people),rather than be dismissed as youthful (mostly) indiscretions as they would for their white counterparts. They get that if they are harmed by white authorities, that it is their worst images that will be trotted out to justify that harm.

I don’t have any solutions to this, other than to encourage people to spend some time looking at these images and challenge what you think you know about the pictures you see.

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  1. pandora says:

    Remember during Hurricane Katrina when white people “found” food and supplies while black people (doing the same exact thing) were looting.

    I showed this #iftheygunnedmedown campaign to my kids and nephew and all three said that the press would use their graduation/yearbook pictures – even though they have plenty of pictures of themselves showing off/acting “grown up”/goofing around which would paint them in a negative light.

  2. John Manifold says:

    Sean Lynn looking like a decent Kent County Democrat

    http://delaware.newszap.com/centraldelaware/134245-70/31st-district-democratic-hopefuls-spar-over-issues-at-debate

    Deserves nomination

  3. puck says:

    It is worse that you remember – the whites were “salvaging” supplies from the stores.

  4. new in town says:

    Any chance that the kids will take down their adolescent pix? Sure the internet goes on forever, but the press is sufficiently lazy that they just cream off whatever Facebook gives them.

  5. Aint's Taking it Any More says:

    Truly don’t understand the point of the dual photo shots.

    Walking down any street, which of these people in these photos would scare you more? Which is intrinsically worrisome? The marine in dress blue or the thug giving you the finger? If the answer isn’t glaringly obvious, then your sense of self preservation is worn dangerously thin. Join the ranks of the misguided.

    Those that grab Time magazine, Newsweek, MSNBC and gleefully scrub themselves in cognitive distortion, and see an innocent child, or, they see a thug. Why? Because we love the photo. We look at it and paste together a life of someone unknown. A life that, undoubtedly, resonants with our God given color.

    The problem isn’t the photo. It’s not even the reaction to it. Its that someone, somewhere made a decision to choose a certain photo, to publicize it knowing, absolutely knowing, the reaction it would evoke. Neutrality/That’s the fundamental problem. Reporting news outlets have a responsibility to do than to better than print an inflammatory picture – one that conveys an underserved innocence or guilt. A photo is a journalists cheap alternative to actually working to find the truth.

    So, tell us why, looking at a left photo, why we shouldn’t see guilt, find fear.

  6. John Young says:

    Mr. Lynn, a Dover city councilman, trial lawyer and former public school educator, said, “Common Core has become a misnomer, the seed of truth has been lost, it’s not a curriculum or textbook, it’s a standard each student is expected to reach to avoid remedial courses in college.

    “We owe it to our children to make sure they have what they need to be successful, 84 percent of teachers support it and so do I.”

    I am sure of this: 84% of teachers could not be said to support any one thing. Mr. Lynn is perpetuating the Bill Gates, Jack Markell, Darryl Scott, Chiefs for Change talking points.

    Mr. Lynn, the charge is simple, demonstrate your support by pointing to the research deeming it effective.

    If not, I encourage the 31st to throw off the commitment to onerous, ill intentioned education reform being rained down on DE from the 31st, et alias

    Nice cameo in the pic from State Board Executive Director Johnson http://delaware.newszap.com/centraldelaware/134245-70/31st-district-democratic-hopefuls-spar-over-issues-at-debate assuredly a Lynn supporter.

  7. Geezer says:

    “Mr. Lynn, the charge is simple, demonstrate your support by pointing to the research deeming it effective.”

    Deeming what effective? A program that hasn’t been put in place yet? Thanks for demonstrating why nobody should listen to you.

  8. puck says:

    The dual images made me remember a Boy Scouts commercial from my youth that seemed to run constantly, but I can’t find a link now – a middle-aged woman is walking down a dark street, becoming increasingly nervous as she hears footsteps following her. Her anxiety build to Hitchcockian level, and then a figure emerges into a pool of light, in a Boy Scout uniform, and she nearly collapses from relief. I guess this would have been in the late 60s – early 70s. I think the Boy Scout may have been black but I can’t remember.

    Also, currently there is a commercial from Horizon Plumbing that shows a white elderly woman tut-tutting about the “sketchy” characters other plumbing companies send, but the white frat boy from Horizon made her feel “safe with him in my home.:” Horizon is playing the dog whistles loud.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fF4dRjRHRtw

  9. cassandra_m says:

    If the answer isn’t glaringly obvious, then your sense of self preservation is worn dangerously thin. Join the ranks of the misguided.

    And there is the problem. This is your reaction to a PHOTO, not a living, breathing person in your presence where you would have lots more context to make your “self preservation” decisions from. All you have from those photos are a bunch of signifiers and the ones that look thugged out are the ones that trigger your “self preservation”. The dual pictures are meant to demonstrate that you can’t trust the narratives that are supposed to be supported when the media puts up pictures of either victims or alleged criminals.

    I’d bet that these kids don’t trigger the same “self preservation” instincts (or at least get credit for going through a “phase”):

    Thug 1
    Thug 2
    Thug 3

    But people keep telling me that when I see pictures of these guys walking around the mall, I shouldn’t worry and that all of my self presentation instincts are all wrong to think that these guys are dangerous. Wonder why?

    And lets go one further. I can see and post pictures of Ron Paul speaking to a neo-confederate group (with a confederate flag as a back drop) and people come out of the woodwork to insist that Ron Paul doesn’t mean anything by that.

    For these kids, it’s a photo. They may have been at a party or acting out some silliness that kids act out. But you don’t know if they are dangerous from those photos. You just know that there are black men wearing clothes, hair, postures that indicate to you that they are dangerous. The other, more “acceptable” picture shows that just accessing your stereotypes and prejudices to create a narrative from one photo is wrong.

  10. cassandra_m says:

    puck, I remember that Buy Scout commercial and remember discussions at home wondering if the lady in the commercial would have remained fearful if the kid did not have on a uniform.

  11. Aint's Taking it Any More says:

    Cassandra:

    You are absolutely correct – a reaction to a photo. No one knows the person photographed, never met them, don’t know their family and surely doesn’t know their intent – cause the photo doesn’t give us that.

    Yet people post contrasting photos of themselves and moronically ask who is the real me? They ask the question, and demand an answer, based solely on the contrasting photos. One photo does not tell a life story.

    What strikes fear in you? Am we lead to believe that a gang-banger looking guy following you down a poorly lit street, in a tough area, is for you, no different an experience than walking through Brandywine Park in the spring surrounded by dozens of unknown people.

    You gotta a be kidding that “people keep telling me that when I see pictures of these guys walking around the mall, I shouldn’t worry and that all of my self presentation instincts are all wrong to think that these guys are dangerous.” Is your point that black guys waltzing around with assault type rifles would be far, far more disconcerting just because they’re black. Go back to the drawing board as that’s 100% pure, unadulterated bullshit.

  12. pandora says:

    “Is your point that black guys waltzing around with assault type rifles would be far, far more disconcerting just because they’re black. Go back to the drawing board as that’s 100% pure, unadulterated bullshit.”

    I don’t think it’s “100% pure, unadulterated bullshit”. I think it’s reality.

    Remind me… was a state of emergency enacted when Penn State students rioted? Were the UD kids who ran rampant across the Newark campus referred to as thugs?

    Did law enforcement throw tear gas, fire rubber bullets, etc. at Cliven Bundy supporters – who, btw, had guns aimed at law enforcement? And when those two Bundy supporters (who were at his ranch) killed those police officers and then shot up a Walmart, did the press treat them as lone wolves or paint everyone at the ranch with the same brush?

    When a white male goes on a shooting spree and proudly quotes the Tea Party or Glenn Beck are they treated as simply a crazy individual or part of the group they associate with? You see, I remember the outrage when these “individuals” were linked to these groups and the press backing down.

    Given recent events, I’d be more wary of older white males.

  13. cassandra_m says:

    They ask the question, and demand an answer, based solely on the contrasting photos.

    They are not demanding an answer from *you*. They are merely demonstrating the foolishness of creating a full narrative out of one photo — a photo whose choice is meant to indict the person in it.

    One photo does not tell a life story.

    And that is the entire point of the project.

    What strikes fear in you?

    For me, this is about behavior. Not what clothes you wear. Unless you are wearing sheets. Or a balaclava in the middle of the summer. That would scare me.

    Is your point that black guys waltzing around with assault type rifles would be far, far more disconcerting just because they’re black.

    Sure it is for some folks. Governor Ronald Reagan signed gun control measures in California after images like this started appearing in the newspapers.

    Images of two unarmed black panthers in Philly were enough to occupy right wingnuts for years with multiple feverish conspiracy theories.

    But these Cliven Bundy crackpots are having just another day in the patriothood.

    The bullshit is all yours.

  14. Aint's Taking it Any More says:

    If your point is:

    They are merely demonstrating the foolishness of creating a full narrative out of one photo — a photo whose choice is meant to indict the person in it.

    Then, let the snow fall in hell, we agree.

  15. pandora says:

    And that point was made, quite clearly, in her post:

    “What is remarkable to me about these images and the ready way people have jumped in to participate is that these young men and women already understand how their images are being used against them. They understand that the (mostly) adolescent preening and posing and general foolishness to look more adult is more likely to be used to create an entire negative narrative about who they are (leveraged from the usual stereotypes of young black people),rather than be dismissed as youthful (mostly) indiscretions as they would for their white counterparts. They get that if they are harmed by white authorities, that it is their worst images that will be trotted out to justify that harm.”

  16. puck says:

    It works both ways. Funny how clothes and accessories make all the difference for the police in Ferguson… when they took off the riot gear they got a much better reaction. I guess clothes do make the man.

  17. cassandra_m says:

    The thing is that for the cops it wasn’t just the clothes, but also the weaponry pointed at everyone, no matter who you were.

  18. Tom Kline says:

    I remember Katrina… Finally the feds caught up with the criminal “Mayor” running the city during Katrina, Ray “Chocolate City” Nagin.

  19. cassandra_m says:

    I remember Katrina too — finally the Feds caught up with the 5 cops on the Danzinger bridge who started shooting at people who were peacefully walking walking across it and worked for years to cover it up. Cops that aren’t too much unlike the ones all soldiered up in Ferguson.

  20. cassandra_m says:

    Will Bunch writes about this again today, noting that with time, the truth of this horrific incident recedes while those who are looking to obfuscate the real issues rush into the breach to push their agendas.

    There’s been less truth and more obfuscation, less clarity and more confusion. Mike Brown should be buried, and his family should be on the road to peace of mind, and some closure. Instead, it was announced today that federal officials will perform a second autopsy on his body, because no one has any faith or trust in the people who conducted the first one.

    Into this vacuum, people with their own agenda are trying to take advantage of chaos that has been promoted by those who are supposed to be in command of the situation: The Ferguson and St. Louis County police, the government of Ferguson, the St. Louis County prosecutor, and, at times, even Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon. Let’s mention some of the worst right off: Looters. The despicable folks who use this as an excuse to vandalize and steal are small in number, and most are not even from Ferguson. Pictures show the true story, that protesters and other citizens from the town are not only trying to deter the looters, but they are patiently cleaning up their mess the next morning.

  21. Al says:

    Considering that you can use a frame grab to extract a picture of any movie you take, it’s possible to show an individual with any facial expression you wish. Those who know how to use technology can also abuse it.

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