Thursday, September 01, 2005

racist news coverage?

Glenn writes a post titled "Black people loot, white people 'find'?" Pretty amazing. The gist is this: Glenn shows two images side by side-- one from AFP and the other from AP. In one image, a black person has gotten supplies from a storm-flooded grocery store. In another, two white people are shown doing exactly the same thing. The white people are labeled as "finding bread and soda from a local grocery store." Meanwhile, the black man's caption reads, "...after looting a grocery store."

Perhaps you'll just shrug, but as I've discussed before, living in Korea makes you more sensitive to the sort of stuff that slips past your consciousness* while home in the States. White folks in Korea act no differently from black folks in America when it comes to perceiving racist slights. On occasion, there are misperceptions-- slights that turn out not to have been slights-- but quite often the racism is real, and exposure to racism makes you more wary of it. I believe Glenn has found a legitimate case of racial bias in the news coverage, and he's right to blog about it.

Glenn got his link from here. The link includes some discussion and possible justification of the captions (e.g., one commenter notes that "AP has consistently named all people stealing items as looters."). I'm skeptical, because as I read those captions, I smell a now-familiar stink. Could AP's and AFP's editorial policies be that different?

*If you've been lucky enough to escape most racial prejudice in the States, as I have. It wasn't until I came to Korea that I began to understand what racism felt like.



Kevin Kim said...

I think it's OK.

Example: After FINDING the kid FROM Portugal, we shot him, jumped in the van, and sped off.

Or: After FINDING plants FROM another world right in his backyard, he stopped ranting about the absence of alien life.

I can see why it looks strange, though. You're thinking of constructions like these:

I found it THROUGH Amazon.
(not "I found it FROM Amazon.")

She found it IN the toilet.
(not "I found it FROM the toilet.")

True, a sentence like

He found it from a store.

would look strange, written as such. In fact, I'd contend that the above example would be incorrect. But the example you quoted--

...after FINDING bread and soda FROM a local grocery store...

--gives the writer some wiggle room because it could be charitably read in the manner of my first three example sentences:

After finding the kid (WHO WAS) FROM Portugal...

After finding plants (THAT WERE) FROM another world...

In the same vein:

After finding bread and soda (THAT WERE) FROM a local grocery...

Interestingly, the above phrase is ambiguous. The bread and soda CAME FROM the local grocery, but were they found IN the local grocery?


Kevin was FROM Northern Virginia, but his lifeless body was found IN a Seoul sewer.

In conclusion: the locution "find... from..." is possible, but it risks leaving certain questions unanswered.


Maven said...

On Bill Maher's show tonight, he showed the two pics from AP and the captions, too. Good show tonight involving the racism that's being perpetrated in the media as well as REALITY there in N'awlins.