Posts Tagged ‘Race


You and No One Else Pt. 2

I couldn’t help but notice as I researched figures and facts for my last post that, once again, I was at a loss in finding pictures of any of the approximately 700 bodies that have been dug from the Chilean rubble. I have no real desire to see what I already knew to be the most tragic cost of the disaster on either the television screen or the front page of news sites, but I must say that I was somewhat confused when, even after performing an image search for “Chile+Earthquake+Bodies” in Google, not a single picture emerged.

Is it that news stations have found another focus in the aftermath of this disaster? I have already seen several interviews from survivors which provide an even more gripping tale of terror than an image of the dead– which, of course, is accompanied by the obvious tale of triumph pointing to the person being interviewed as a survivor.

It is possible that the difference in coverage is meant to draw the viewers attention to the weighty factor of death in the case of Haiti over that of the deaths in Chile. It is also possible that the Chilean government’s speedy attempts at recovery made shots like the one below of Haiti harder to obtain while walking down the streets of its capital city.

However, regardless of the circumstances which made for great photo opportunities in either case, my point remains that media outlets ultimately decide what they will publish/broadcast to represent the type of coverage they intend to offer.

Is the difference in what the networks have thus far decided to capture within these two cases of widespread natural disaster governed by the socioeconomic status of the victims? Is it easier for American people to digest pictures of death from a country full of individuals far-removed from the levels of everyday comfort that we enjoy? Far-removed in the complexion of their skin as well?

Chile, on the other hand, is one of South America’s most prosperous nations.

And yeah, they have tall buildings like we do….they wear nice clothes….. and have big, naval warships like the U.S. They’re also pretty fair-skinned.

Chile's President-Elect, Sebastian Pinera

There’s something fishy going on here. What do you think?


You and No one else

So when I posted on Haiti earlier today, I was doing my best not to make it sound like i was implying that I’d like to see more American bodies on the front page of newspapers.

But as I wrote, something peculiar struck me. There have been some people who are comparing last week’s carnage in Haiti to the hurricane Katrina disaster in 2005. I would have to disagree on most fronts. I mean, this country was overwhelmingly independent during the recovery stage of the hurricane. I think I even read reports somewhere that George Bush had declined financial aid from another country at the time. I also feel as though America had a very thorough understanding and control over the stability of New Orleans. The city had been segregated, neglected, and left to fend for itself for years, until it finally met an overwhelming foe. Though nobody could have predicted Katrina being as devastating as it was, meteorologists and government officials could also literally see the hurricane it coming. Haiti was hit in the blink of an eye, and no man or structure was safe.

But either way, the point I’m trying to make is that after hurricane Katrina, there were also pictures of bodies in the street. Dark ones. In Haiti? Dark bodies. When the tsunami hit India in 2004? Dark bodies on the news.

Hurricane Katrina

Tsunami in India

It could very well be that because another majority race here in the U.S. hasn’t been hit in mass by any sort of tragedy since 9/11, there would be no source of such a photograph. But there weren’t any publicized from 9/11. Or from the Ft. Hood shooting last year. Or from the CIA suicide-bomb attack. Or from the Va Tech shooting. Or from any natural disaster that has occurred in the United States since 2001.

I don’t want to see the bodies of dead dark-skinned people any more than I want to see the bodies of dead light-skinned people, but it just makes me curious as to what makes showing a human corpse on television acceptable in some cases and unacceptable in others. I’m not calling a double-standard yet… but I’d like to see some evidence of balanced news coverage.

And thank you, Radiohead, but this excellent video doesn’t count.


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