Thursday, September 01, 2005

Media Bias At Work

Thanks to the notice of my friend Drew, here below is a startling example of media bias and the racist project of whiteness at work. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the anarchy of those areas hardest hit is shocking, poignant, and at times dystopic. It only goes to show how little it takes to reduce our "first" world to a "developing" world. Not the language used in the captions for each photo.

The first image, in a long "slideshow" of images, is of two people -- importantly caucasian -- who have managed to "find" supplies from a local mart

The second image is of a single black (or dark-skinned) male who has "looted" supplies from a local mart

Two distinct verbs used to describe what tantamounts to the same action. However, one is characterized as positive, perhaps even noble, as the people shown in the image have the American pluck to survive. Whereas, the second is characterized as negative, perhaps dangerous, as the young black man is living up to the longstanding prejudice and stigma of criminality. It can be argued -- and critics like George Lipsitz have been arguing -- that whiteness continues to find ways and preserve means to shore up its power, its privilege. Here, the white people in the first photo have a right to the goods they have "found"; in a deep sense, whiteness must and should and by all means justly survive. On the other hand, the black young man in the second photo has won his survival by ill gotten means. This is the narrative that has been fed into the media, into the history, and into the dominant ideology for many, many years.