Friday, 21 November 2014

Shotguns, sundaes and segregation - a South African perspective

I've actually been sitting with this post saved in my drafts ever since last week, and I've been umming and aahing about whether or not to post it. It's funny how, as South Africans, as soon as there is anything even partly related to race, we feel that we have to second-guess ourselves with regards to whether we're being politically correct or preachy. But, politics aside, I'm a firm believer in following your gut and the fact that I'm still thinking about this topic shows that it must be important enough to blog about (even if it is a week later).

Make fun of me if you wish, but I openly admit to  checking the Daily Mail at least once a day. Now although you need to wade through the 'Can you really get Kylie Jenner's lips with just makeup?' and UK soapie muck, I actually find the majority of their content very educational. So imagine my delighted surprise on Friday morning when I clicked on the Daily Mail homepage and saw this article first and foremost on my screen: 

"Shotguns, sundaes and segregation: Stunning photos of families in 1950s Alabama offer poignant look at life during civil-rights era"

  • African-American photographer Gordon Parks captured the lives of three families living in Mobile, Alabama in 1956
  • The collection, called The Restraints: Open and Hidden, follows the lives of three families
  • A total of 40 prints will now go on display at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, Georgia
  • Parks worked for Life Magazine for 20 years, shooting the likes of Muhammad Ali and Malcom X  

These are just a few of the photographs that were published alongside the story and, as a former photography student, they caught my attention straight away, not just because of how beautifully they're taken, but also because of the sadness I felt upon looking at them. But what I wasn't expecting when I clicked on this link was the horrendous representation of humanity in the form of some of the comments that have been published in relation to the story. A lot of them have subsequently been removed ('Segregation should be brought back' was one such example), but I've taken screen grabs of the few remaining that I think deserve our scrutiny.

Now maybe I am just being an overly-sensitive South African, but is it not dumbfounding - the way in which a large amount of people responded to this post? Instead of feeling sadness, heartbreak and possibly even guilt or hatred, there they are discussing what people wore, the crime stats and the fact that there were no obese kids. And since I've been churning this around in my head for a week, I think you should, too. Agree, disagree, but please check out the full article, here:

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