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Photographers respond to New Orleans racial bias photos
September 1, 2005 9:42 PM   Subscribe

Looting vs Finding Chris Graythen, an AFP photographer in New Orleans (skip down to his post) who shot the photo of two white people "finding" goods in the floodwaters, defends his caption. "These people were not ducking into a store and busting down windows to get electronics. They picked up bread and cokes that were floating in the water." Meanwhile, the editor for the photog of the "looting" image says that he actually saw the looting occur. "'He saw the person go into the shop and take the goods,' Stokes said, 'and that's why he wrote 'looting' in the caption.'"
posted by Brian James (48 comments total)

 
Sounds about right. It amazes me when people find racism where none exists. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, people.
posted by davidmsc at 9:46 PM on September 1, 2005


For those of you who don't feel like clicking through ads, here's the caption writers actual quote:

"I believed in my opinion, that they did simply find them, and not 'looted' them in the definition of the word," he writes. "The people were swimming in chest deep water, and there were other people in the water, both white and black. I looked for the best picture. there were a million items floating in the water - we were right near a grocery store that had 5+ feet of water in it. it had no doors. the water was moving, and the stuff was floating away. These people were not ducking into a store and busting down windows to get electronics. They picked up bread and cokes that were floating in the water. They would have floated away anyhow."
posted by Mach5 at 9:47 PM on September 1, 2005


If only electronics floated. That would spare everyone the trouble of having to go into the stores to find things.
posted by quadog at 9:53 PM on September 1, 2005


I didn't actually think I'd be right when I wrote this...
posted by jikel_morten at 9:54 PM on September 1, 2005


It amazes me when people deny innate racism can be subtle, but is present nonetheless. Heads in the sand, heads in the sand.
posted by Rothko at 9:56 PM on September 1, 2005


I want to believe the photographer, but either he's covering his ass (and lying) or he's a rotten writer. Surely he must have known what people would have thought if they read the line about "finding" food INSIDE a store.
posted by tsarfan at 10:06 PM on September 1, 2005


This is all George Bush and co's fault!

(I have nothing to add)
posted by Dean Keaton at 10:09 PM on September 1, 2005


Rothko, nice, those are some excellent tests... very insightful.
posted by anthill at 10:12 PM on September 1, 2005


Rothko, after getting that FPP pulled for ridiculous flights of fancy, you might want to back off a bit on the righteous condemnation stuff.

Sometimes, there's just no link, no matter how badly you might wish there were.
posted by Malor at 10:14 PM on September 1, 2005


I want to believe the photographer, but either he's covering his ass (and lying) or he's a rotten writer. Surely he must have known what people would have thought if they read the line about "finding" food INSIDE a store.
posted by tsarfan at 1:06 AM EST on September 2 [!]


Where does it say 'inside' the store?

Also: Flickr Mirror.

Yahoo Statement.
posted by jikel_morten at 10:17 PM on September 1, 2005



Oh dear.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 10:22 PM on September 1, 2005


This is a bizarre controversy. Talk about fiddling while Rome burns. Or New Orleans drowns.
posted by realcountrymusic at 10:23 PM on September 1, 2005


This was such a non-story from the get go. Two different, unaffiliated photo agencies run photographs by two different photographers of the same event and they have different captions. Just because Yahoo happens to aggregate wire service photos, folks went ape shit.

Add "loot vs find" to the list of man bites dog, film at eleven cliches and move along.
posted by jimray at 10:26 PM on September 1, 2005


This is a bizarre controversy. Talk about fiddling while Rome burns. Or New Orleans drowns.

Yeah, how 'bout you whining ninnies take it to the Natalee Holloway thread.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 10:29 PM on September 1, 2005


realcountrymusic: This is a bizarre controversy. Talk about fiddling while Rome burns. Or New Orleans drowns.

I couldn't agree with you more.

Of all the shit that is happening, this is what some of you people choose to get outraged over?
posted by billysumday at 10:45 PM on September 1, 2005


Stupid.
posted by Ynoxas at 10:45 PM on September 1, 2005


Sometimes, there's just no link, no matter how badly you might wish there were.

Sometimes, there's just a link, no matter how badly you might wish there wasn't.
posted by Rothko at 10:58 PM on September 1, 2005


Hmm, I had figured the writer had simply alternated between find/loot in order to add verbal flavor.

By the way, the implicit association tests are a load of horse shit.
posted by Citizen Premier at 11:06 PM on September 1, 2005


I still want to see pictures of Asian people with captions saying they are "ninjaing" items from a store
posted by mikojava at 11:10 PM on September 1, 2005


By the way, the implicit association tests are a load of horse shit.
posted by Citizen Premier at 1:06 AM CST on September 2 [!]


Correct. What they measure is your ability to adapt to the technical component of the test.
posted by Ynoxas at 11:12 PM on September 1, 2005


By the way, the implicit association tests are a load of horse shit.

Translation: "Peer-reviewed research I don't agree with is a load of horse shit, because it doesn't agree with my prior assumptions."

FWIW, most of the informed criticism of IAT and the like tend to examine methodological problems, and do not question the inherent argument being made regarding the presence of unconscious factors.
posted by Rothko at 11:19 PM on September 1, 2005


I'm fucking glad I have unconcious thoughts, because they solve a lot of problems my concious is too lazy to deal with.
By the way, this is the second time I took the implicit association test for arab muslims and it said I had "a strong automatic preference for Arab Muslims." Last time it said I had a weak distaste for them.

Both are wrong.

The reason for the flip in the results was that the last time I took it (a couple months ago) the muslim-good part came after the muslim-bad part, and this time it was the reverse. All it shows is that the brain has trouble switching associations with buttons.
posted by Citizen Premier at 11:28 PM on September 1, 2005


And "peer-reviewed" is a buzzword. Something can be talked about in the scientific community and still be horse shit.
posted by Citizen Premier at 11:29 PM on September 1, 2005


CP, so that you know what the term really means, "peer review" is a process where the subject matter discussed in a paper is passed before many critical eyes before getting published. Experimental procedures and data are criticized for faults in reasoning and methods.

If the paper doesn't make the cut, it doesn't get published. Researchers get grant money from getting published in (good) journals. If they don't publish, they lose their jobs.

Further, we're not talking about one or two papers here and there, but a body of work spanning a number of respected publications in the field. There are valid criticisms of these tests but you haven't made one, yet, that isn't based primarily on your prior expectation of results.
posted by Rothko at 11:39 PM on September 1, 2005


I still want to see pictures of Asian people with captions saying they are "ninjaing" items from a store

Quoted for truth.
posted by nightchrome at 11:40 PM on September 1, 2005


When looking at news photos from New Orleans I see mostly black or hispanic people. They didn't have the means to evacuate. White people had. What is systematic racism if this isn't?

And now the National Guard is allowed to shoot to kill...
posted by hoskala at 12:08 AM on September 2, 2005


The reason for the flip in the results was that the last time I took it (a couple months ago) the muslim-good part came after the muslim-bad part, and this time it was the reverse. All it shows is that the brain has trouble switching associations with buttons.

Except that in the actual studies, the researchers looked at the data in aggregate and so were able to correct for that.

But yeah. This is a really fucking stupid thing to get worked up about right now.
posted by Tlogmer at 12:22 AM on September 2, 2005


Sometimes, there's just a link, no matter how badly you might wish there wasn't.

As a person who scored in the ultra minority of less then 5% with strong innate positive bias towards black faces in the innate bias test I took last year at my college, I gotta say:

You obviously are driven by dogma in this case. You remind me of my fundamentalist relatives that in every situation start with the conclusion and work backwards plying the evidence as it suits their preconceived belief system.

Is there racism in the US? Hell yeah, no denying it. Was this an example of said racism? Only in your self contained constantly reaffirming world.

Now instead of inventing racism where there is none, how about we actually take time to focus on real examples? Hmmmmm?
posted by Jezztek at 12:57 AM on September 2, 2005


The Point Metafilter: You see what you want to see, and you hear what you want to hear.
posted by Joeforking at 1:04 AM on September 2, 2005


HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAH!!!
posted by jimjam at 1:08 AM on September 2, 2005


As a person who scored in the ultra minority of less then 5% with strong innate positive bias towards black faces in the innate bias test I took last year at my college, I gotta say...

I never expressed an opinion either way on the photographer's motives in this or any other discussion. Feel free to quote me otherwise.

I simply questioned the blanket assertion that racism is not involved, when it very well may be, albeit in a subtle form that the person may not be comfortable admitting to, for obvious professional reasons. Clearly there are folks here uncomfortable with acknowledging the research that's been done, since it challenges deeply held -- almost "dogmatic", to use your generalization -- opinions.

For all we know, the AP photographer could be under a lot of pressure from management to clear up any "misunderstandings", right or wrong, if he wants to keep selling photos. We just don't know. Certainly I have no conclusive evidence either way, just the contrast of one person's word (or one manager's word) against the online impressions from his many readers.

How "dogmatic" is it to assume categorically -- without any questioning whatsoever -- that racism doesn't exist in this situation, when media coverage of catastrophes has carried racial baggage in the past? (And does now, albeit in ways unrelated to the discussion about this photographer's phrasing of his captions?) How jaw-droppingly naive is it to ignore the past and present of racial bias in the media in the consideration of this discussion?
posted by Rothko at 1:49 AM on September 2, 2005


Rothko : "I never expressed an opinion either way on the photographer's motives in this or any other discussion. Feel free to quote me otherwise.

"I simply questioned the blanket assertion that racism is not involved, when it very well may be, albeit in a subtle form that the person may not be comfortable admitting to, for obvious professional reasons."


Actually, no, you said it amazed you when people did "foo" (the opposite of "bar"), while no-one had actually done "foo", so the most logical way to interpret it was that you were saying that the situation in question was actually "bar". On reading your followup, it appears you were saying it amazed you when people did "foo", not in relation to this issue.

Which prompts me to add my own observation: I'm amazed that some people like Diet Coke for the taste.
posted by Bugbread at 2:28 AM on September 2, 2005


Actually, no, you said it amazed you when people did "foo" (the opposite of "bar"), while no-one had actually done "foo", so the most logical way to interpret it was that you were saying that the situation in question was actually "bar".

*sigh* Read the very first comment in this thread, bugbread.
posted by Rothko at 2:39 AM on September 2, 2005


Discussion at Plastic about a study on implicit race discrimination.
posted by Gyan at 2:42 AM on September 2, 2005


Rothko : "*sigh* Read the very first comment in this thread, bugbread."

I read it. He is amazed at when people find racism when it isn't there (i.e. this particular case). You are amazed at people denying that racism is ever subtle but present (unclear what case you're referring to. This case isn't an example of people ever denying that racism can be subtle but present, and davidmsc's comment isn't denying that racism is ever subtle but present).
posted by Bugbread at 3:12 AM on September 2, 2005


Er...I should probably add "*sigh*"
posted by Bugbread at 3:12 AM on September 2, 2005


*double sigh*
posted by Rothko at 3:14 AM on September 2, 2005


*sigh* infinity
posted by shoos at 3:23 AM on September 2, 2005


> It amazes me when people deny innate racism can be subtle, but is
> present nonetheless. Heads in the sand, heads in the sand.

Subtle, innate racism is of zero importance. It's one of those things you can't fix except by eliminating humans.

Just take comfort in knowing that, somewhere, somebody is discriminating against the kind of people who are discriminating against you.
posted by jfuller at 5:08 AM on September 2, 2005


I want to believe the photographer, but either he's covering his ass (and lying) or he's a rotten writer. Surely he must have known what people would have thought if they read the line about "finding" food INSIDE a store.

Not every photographer is a great writer, especially under deadline on the biggest story on the planet when they haven't eaten a meal for days.

Were I the photographer, I'd have been a bit more explicit: I'd use words like "retrieve floating bread from the street" rather than "find".

The biggest bullshit is that AFP has now pulled Graythen's photo due to the controversy. Way to kick your photog in the teeth, AFP. Either fire him or stand by him. Don't pull his photo but keep him around, because all you're going to do is piss him off to no end.
posted by bugmuncher at 6:30 AM on September 2, 2005


It's funny, I assumed all the AFP photographers were French.
posted by smackfu at 7:40 AM on September 2, 2005


AFP? Joke. Has been for quite a while. They have the reputation of breaking lots of news first, faster than most other sources, but you have to take what they say with a BIG grain of salt. Being first a lot of the time means you're wrong a lot of the time, too. Reputable news organizations use AFP as a confirmation source but will not go to print/air just on their say-so.
posted by Vidiot at 7:45 AM on September 2, 2005


There were about a hundred or so idiots in the previous thread who insisted on shouting "racism" even after it became clear that the captions were edited by different people. Where are those idiots now? Now is the time for those idiots to say they were, in fact, talking like idiots.
posted by soiled cowboy at 7:48 AM on September 2, 2005


It amazes me when people find racism where none exists.

Welcome to metafilter.
posted by justgary at 7:55 AM on September 2, 2005


AFP? Joke. Has been for quite a while.

OTOH, these are photographs, so you can put a bit more faith in them.
posted by smackfu at 8:12 AM on September 2, 2005


Maybe someone has posted this already (had a look, couldn't find it). Sorry if someone finds it offensive. I know, and I think the author knows, that this is a serious issue.
posted by chaschas at 5:10 PM on September 2, 2005


AFP has pulled the photo from it's stream. I hope several of you sanctimonious a-holes are happy.
posted by photoslob at 6:14 PM on September 2, 2005


so who started this stupid meme?

I just heard some fuckwit on that fundraising concert show bring it up. what a fucking sad parade of clowns
posted by shoos at 8:51 PM on September 2, 2005


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