See no evil?
Yesterday a faithful reader (and friend) sent
me a private message. "Why aren't minorities
represented in your images?" The answer is
simple. Given I use predominantly "vintage"
(except for political) imagery in this blog,
often few "minority" options are available.
Well, at least not positive ones. Diving back
into historical context proves the American
dream has been white for centuries. Even
worse when minorities were represented it
reinforced established racial stereotypes that
are still often considered cherished elements
of our "heritage". Can you say "Mammy"?
Such vestiges of the past now offend. Much
like statues honoring Confederate leaders.
Which is why I've avoided vintage minority
imagery that crossed said line. An omission
for which I apologize given that my efforts
to be sensitive and politically correct sent the
wrong message. Rather than sharing the sins
of our past, I omitted any representation of
our collective whole. A prejudicial act in and
of itself. So for today, I'm doing the right not
white thing. Which is showing you exactly
what our history was. And sadly for many
Americans including our President... still is.
Forty years ago I was a struggling Art Director
in publishing. One of my jobs was "integrating"
textbooks by adding minority representation.
Back then (and I assume today) school textbook
publishers had to deliver specific racial quotas
set by school leadership across the country. So
I spent days adding a screen of black over white
faces. Squiggling afros with my radiograph pen.
Along with angling eyes, and adding bangs to
create Asians. Overlaying a light screen of grey
sans hair don'ts to create Latinos. An attempt to
omit prior prejudice. Or was it just an exercise
of futility? Has America learned it's lesson?!
A picture says a million words...
If anybody questions why Aunt Jemima has
to go away, dive into said brand's past. There
you'll find a prejudicial stereotype - not some
warm and fuzzy icon. All too recently our
culture was rife with blatant bigotry. In 1927
the first "talkie" starred a Jewish crooner in
blackface. In 1939 Hattie McDaniel won the
best supporting actress Oscar for her role as
Mammy in Gone with the Wind. Yet she was
prohibited from being seated in the white only
auditorium prior. Our shame is still there in
black and white. Proving the reality that the
American dream of our youth was WHITE.