Gary Winogrand, Central Park Zoo, 1963
These are two of my favorite photographs I have ever gotten the pleasure to see, which is one of the reasons I am choosing to post them. Another is that I stare at them daily (reproductions of them hang in my room) and I always wonder “Am I any better? Are we as a society getting better?”
As a sociology student, I can point to a number of ways in which race and racial tensions play a role in how things have been done, how they continue to be done. And it sometimes scares me to look at these and think of how comical they can be and how “hilariously stupid” it was that people “USED” to act this way, and yet things really aren’t that different. (For those that aren’t following me in this “hilarious” idea… the “children” of the seemingly mixed race “couple” are actually monkeys, which could be read as a very glaring statement on the way mixed race children are stigmatized and discriminated against in society, and in the second photo you can see a very glaring and obvious line of division between the white triad and the black couple, which is more emphasized by their lack of any interaction including eye contact or even directionality)
Regardless, someone that I know found a KKK business card on their car the other day (That was a new one even for me, I had no idea they had business cards) advertising their right as a white person to claim back their voice as they slowly become minorities to African Americans and Hispanics in America. And I don’t mean the placer of the card was advertising their right, I mean the placer of the card was encouraging the RECIPIENT of the card to stand up and claim their right as a white person.
I mean, I was disgusted by the fact that it even happened at all, but after I had gotten past that, I thought this was sort of strange not just because it was a business card, but because I was more-so interested to know how they assumed he was, in fact, a white person. Did they profile his car as belonging to a white? How did that work? Do you look at a make and model and color of a car and say to yourself “A white person drives this”. Do you scan inside their car hoping to see some personal effects and say to yourself “There is no way an African American owns that CD collection”? I mean, seriously. How do you go about that?
If they didn’t go about it in that way, did they instead merely put these on all cars? I was sort of intrigued to know how that went over. Considering you are claiming that whites are a minority, why would you blanket all the cars with these messages for whites when if they are indeed a minority, only a small percentage of those cars would be driven by whites? What an ineffecient way to try and get your point across. In fact, in doing so that way, you actually invalidate your point. This wasn’t a general message of warning against minorities. It, in fact, was meant to unite and empower white people (which is almost more disgusting to assume because someone is white they would get behind you… talk about the other side of prejudice). So why would you assume a “minority” population could be reached in such a way?
I suppose it’s probably not something worth giving all that thought to. But I found myself doing it regardless. Because someone had decided the “right way” of doing this did not mean handing them out as you saw white people walking places, in and out of stores or restaurants, places of business. But the “right way” was to anonymously place business cards on cars in parking lots. So which method did you use? And why do we even need to unite as white people?
Why can’t we just unite as people?