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Am I the only person who found Slate.com's photo essay "Stunning Portraits of Mixed Race Families" to be very problematic?

To my eyes, it contains and channels the echoes of race science and eugenics wrapped in a veneer of praise and curiosity for "unusual" and "fascinating" bodies.

Questions of race and representation were and remain central to the dynamics of the global color line. The ways in which certain types of people and bodies are visually represented through film, photographs, paintings, and other mediums reflect the dynamics of power.

Whose eyes are "we" seeing through? What assumptions are driving the Gaze? How are the bodies and people in visual images posed and positioned relative to one another? Who is included? What types of people and bodies are excluded?

For example, there is a difference between being "naked" and being "nude". A person is nude when they are alone and undressed. A person is naked when they are in the company of others and are not wearing any clothing.

The racial semiotics of Stunning Portraits of Mixed Race Families work in a complementary manner: there is a politics of looking and seeing--and a set of assumptions about agency, history, and culture--within which those images are located and given meaning.

Activists in the global Black Freedom Struggle possessed a deft understanding of those dynamics.

W.E.B. Du Bois used photography to depict African-Americans as being fully human and deserving of full citizen rights as a counter-narrative to white supremacy

The soldiers of the Civil Rights Movement wore their finest clothing to protest marches as a means of channeling the politics of black respectability: this choice of dress helped to give them the moral high ground over the wicked forces of Jim and Jane Crow.

For the media's gaze, here functioning as an insight into the (white) American collective consciousness, it is much easier to rationalize the shooting and beating of slovenly dressed pants-sagging "protesters" than it is to excuse-make for violence against people wearing the uniform of the American middle class.

Conversely, the forces of White Empire, both in the United States and internationally, used visual images of non-whites (as well as the poor, "degenerate" white ethnics, etc.) to normalize white supremacy.

And of course, race scientists in the United States and Nazi Germany, legitimated their programs of sterilization, murder, and marginalization of "race mongrels" and "racial undesirables" through the use of film, photography, and other visual media.

The late 19th and early 20th century white supremacist agenda of groups and individuals such as the American Breeder's Association and Charles Davenport (work which continues to be advanced by the likes of Charles Murray and Nicholas Wade) was driven by a need to maintain "white" "racial "purity".

Race "matters" to the degree that it helps to answer certain political questions.

For much of American history, non-whites, and less than "desirable" "white racial stock" (Jews; Eastern and Southern Europeans; Slavs) were viewed by white elites as "pollutants", a type of infection, from which the White body politic, both literally and metaphorically, had to be protected.

The contemporary American fascination with "mixed race" identity and "biracial" identity is a reflection of changing demographics and globalization; it is also a surrender to and performance of a shallow type of faux cosmopolitanism.

Ironically, the race scientists of Nazi Germany and the United States, as well as the photographer Cyjo (whose work was featured in Slate's essay) who fetishize and find something "stunning" or "interesting" about "mixed race" and/or "biracial" people (what are fictive identities, social constructs, as there is only one race, the human race) share some common assumptions.

One, that those types of "racial" identities are somehow new or novel. In fact, human history is a story of "miscegenation" and "interracial" intimacy. Two, that those types of bodies and individuals merit study and analysis because there is some connection, either implied or explicitly stated, between genes, color, culture, destiny, and personal, as well as national "character".

White supremacy, in much the same way as sexism and homophobia, is sustained and perpetuated through the American and global collective subconscious through unstated assumptions about what is "normal" and "natural". The power of racism is that individuals, across the color line, have internalized its logic by virtue of breathing and living in its social ether.

Cyjo may not have consulted European Imperial and Colonial era travel journals, images of the human zoos at the Great World's Fairs, the archives of race science and eugenics organizations, or racist anthropology textbooks before choosing the subjects, and how they would be posed, for the Slate pictorial. Nevertheless, images of the "mixed race" bodies, individuals, and families have a history. They are not orphans from the global system of white supremacy and the color line.

While viewing and reading "Stunning Portraits of Mixed Race Families" one should ask, "why does any of this matter?" "What are the assumptions about the viewer and the subject?" "Why are some types of bodies deemed 'fascinating' or 'unusual'"?

And most importantly, "What type of political work is being done by these images of 'mixed race' bodies?"

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Comment Preferences

  •  You know Chauncey, sometimes you read too much (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    OIL GUY, DavidMS

    ....into things. This is not one of those times.  The only thing I can say in defense of the "stunning" bit is that the photos are visually very nice, not that I'm any kind of photography critic.  They're stunning like a quality photo of a truck or an orange or a random person might be stunning.  Beyond that, I'm stumped and the accompanying text didn't really help.  Although I was reminded towards the end of Jimmy Carter's "ethnic purity" misstep many years ago. The photographer seems to be coming from a similar place of lament.

    It's not the side effects of the cocaine/I'm thinking that it must be love

    by Rich in PA on Wed Jun 25, 2014 at 03:02:21 PM PDT

    •  The premise and logic of the photo essay (3+ / 0-)

      are disturbing and not fully developed. The comments on the essay are unusually smart and bright too. One person pointed out that there are no black men featured in the photos. This too is very interesting given anxieties about black men and access to white women.

      •  Interesting diary (0+ / 0-)

        I clicked through to her website, clicked on "Mixed Blood" and there do seem to be some families with black men in them (as far as I can tell although I am on my mobile right now so the images are pretty small), although not in the selection of photos that Slate put up.

      •  There are also no white women, (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Be Skeptical, worldlotus

        so I wouldn't read too much into that. I found the piece very interesting.  My only problem is the stupid tittle which I  believe is more a problem with the Photo Editor at Slate. The shots in New York, are from a work she did titled "Mixed Blood'. The shots in Beijing were from another of her projects.

        The artist, CYJO, was born in Korea, but came to the US as an infant. It seems natural for her to be interested in different cultures. Her first major work was on the Korean diaspora and how those immigrants adapted to the various cultures they found themselves in.

        I was fascinated by how difficult it was to decide which families were photographed in New York and whcih were shot in China.

        Maybe it is cultural insensitivity on my part Maybe it is because I live with a girlfriend who lived in Beijing until she was 23. She is now shocked by how the city, and it's people have changed, but I really don't find this disturbing - aside from the really stupid title.

        Here's my take on it - the revolution will not be blogged, it has to be slogged. - Deoliver47

        by OIL GUY on Wed Jun 25, 2014 at 04:03:20 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Just didn't see the need to open that one (0+ / 0-)

    And I'll still pass on it.  How long ago was Loving v. Virginia?

    I'd bet the comments were a sewer.

  •  I find the captions weird. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sturunner

    It's like, "oh, did you order the Korean Nigerian Belgian?" here he is.

    The easily offended deserve to be easily offended.--God

    by Flyswatterbanjo on Wed Jun 25, 2014 at 03:14:44 PM PDT

      •  Please explain why: (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Be Skeptical
        it is a freak show
        I want/need to understand.. And why in 2014 this is so?

        I am surprised at the immediate heart pain those words (& "ignorance is blinding") caused me.  Still, I need to know/understand for the sake of my children & grandchildren.

        •  the human zoo (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          worldlotus

          was one of the ways that white racist norms about "normal bodies" the "exotic" and how those "Others" deviated from whiteness were reinforced and circulated

          the freak show--where people with "unusual" or "abnormal" bodies--were put on display for the White Gaze were not neutral sites. Far from it, they taught lessons about race, ethnicity, sexuality, gender, etc.

          The portraiture techniques used in the Slate series are a relation to that history. The idea that there are some "unusual" or "novel" bodies, precisely because of their racial "mixture" has a very deep and troubling history. There is the idea of pure races--a lie. There is also the unstated assumption that to be white is ideal and normal and every other type of racial identity is triangulated in diminishing ways relative to it.

          The Slate series is false praise for something--race? identity?--that in and of itself should not be "fascinating" or "interesting" and exists within a long history of white supremacist practices.

          Here is a useful link to a series of posts on human zoos:

          http://abeautifulbook.wordpress.com/...

          http://fresherangle.blogspot.com/...

          The Guardian also had a story on Noway's plan to restage a human zoo so that its relationship to colonization and empire won't be forgotten:

          http://www.theguardian.com/...

          •  Thank you for replying, chaunceydevega. Provides (0+ / 0-)

            me with a further insight to examine.

            A different perspective re:

            The idea that there are some "unusual" or "novel" bodies, precisely because of their racial "mixture" has a very deep and troubling history. There is the idea of pure races--a lie. There is also the unstated assumption that to be white is ideal and normal and every other type of racial identity is triangulated in diminishing ways relative to it.

            The Slate series is false praise for something--race? identity?--that in and of itself should not be "fascinating" or "interesting" and exists within a long history of white supremacist practices.

            I suppose I tend to view the idea of pure race through hafu eyes-from a time & place that once proudly proclaimed itself as mono-ethnic nation (& probably still does in some pockets).  And my view is with the personal understanding that this "pure race" idea is not limited to the white race or a particular country.  

            I tend to view the referenced photos as a means to really explore what it means to be multiracial and multicultural today; the complexities of identity, acceptance & belonging.  The beauty.

            People always ask the question – where are you from? This is often a tricky question for Hafus for they were born to parents from different cultures and raised in certain places. Their ethnic identity is of a complex, ever-changing and negotiated nature. A Hafu or any mixed-race person may indeed feel they belong to one, two or even more categories…..
            (snip)
            There are various factors that affect the Hafu sense of belongingness and identity assertion; relationship to family and friends, education, where and how they were raised, personal characteristics, and very importantly the ways in which they have been projected by the surrounded society which is often based on physical qualities…..
            Block quote source from the Hafu project:
            http://www.hafujapanese.org/...

            The beauty of seeing these lives-these photos- celebrated in my lifetime gives hope to one who was born into a "pure race" cultural era & later adopted & brought into a "white supremacist"/racially intolerant era.  Complicated by war; law of the land.

            Same era; different continents.  

            Over 60 years later-long time to finally see what is hopefully embraced as beauty & just a norm....

      •  One of most offensive comments I have read (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Mokurai

        in a while.  

      •  I see nothing freakish about it. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Be Skeptical, worldlotus, Mokurai

        I see a lot of good-looking kids of varying backgrounds. I would suggest that if you see a freak show, the problem is with you, rather than the photographs.

        Bin Laden is dead. GM and Chrysler are alive.

        by leevank on Wed Jun 25, 2014 at 09:13:46 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  I see this ethnic labeling necessary for viewers (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mokurai

      to think about the cultural diversity within each portrayed family.

      To think about the sheer scope of cultural self identity-not race.  

      To think even further-perhaps-on the effect outside culture surrounds, conflicts or shapes these familie's individual self identities...

      Take away the self identifying ethnic label(s) caption & you just have pretty pictures that produces no pondering, awareness or insights.

      Just my critical thinking perspective..

  •  The Artist is a Korean Immigrant (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Jay C, marykk, FG, gramofsam1, worldlotus

    and so despite growing up here, likely does not have strong connections to race "science" history of Europe and the US.

    I've only had a few Asian friends but that's enough contact to know that concepts of race can be important in some Asian cultures in some contexts, and that it carries different experiences and expectations than it does for Euro-descent Americans. For one thing they don't carry our baggage of slavery and its aftermaths.

    As to value for Americans, we're still a nation with a large population of whites who have little personal exposure to non Europeans.

    I wouldn't wade in on this exhibition in any detail because it would take a lot of investigation for me to be sure I understood the context in the mind of the artist, other than people who "look different" due to ancestry from different continents or regions.

    One value there might be to some such presentations is simple familiarization for the significant number of whites who don't often deal with people from outside their Euro descent circles. Many towns and neighborhoods remain minimally integrated half a century after the Civil Rights bill; churches, barely integrated at all.

    The media are now much more integrated than many localities, but it's not hard for whites to keep within Euro descent familiarity even with TV and other entertainment.

    The theory that simple lack of white physical familiarity with Blacks was an important element of racial prejudice was an important justification of integration programs, and to an important extent some of those programs really helped. But we've got a lot of people living far in the past in this country (in science for example, half of us haven't made it convincingly to 1860) and so unless we're to accept all the race based tensions and limitations while we wait for 2 more generations to die off, it could help to do some very simple --to many eyes, insultingly simple and antiquated-- things to move as many people forward as we can.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Wed Jun 25, 2014 at 03:28:27 PM PDT

    •  While in the Peace Corps in South Korea (7+ / 0-)

      I was exposed to South Korean anti-Semitism and to racism against Chinese, Japanese, and African-Americans, which according to my observations was more thoughtless and ignorant than malevolent. This was in sharp contrast to the vehement and entirely malicious official racism with which Japan ruled Korea from the time of taking it over after the Russo-Japanese War in 1905 until the end of WW II.

      I also knew two half Korean, half African-American girls adopted as orphans in the US by our family's next-door neighbors. The orphanages took special pains to get such children adopted outside Korea because of the severe discrimination they would face in Korea.

      We have both thoughtless and malignant racism in the US, and a significant minority of people working on accepting everybody.

      I did not see anything problematic in this photo essay, other than a lack of any coherent explanation of its purpose. This sort of bafflegab does not count.

      Fascinated by the evolution of identity, the photographer Cyjo, who styles her name CYJO, has created a series of portraits that examines how race, ethnicity, and heritage contextualize a person as an individual, and how they coexist within the framework of a family.
      I wonder whether I can translate that into English. Let's see.
      Fascinated by what people have tried to make of personal identity and also assigned group identities over time, the photographer Cyjo, or as she prefers CYJO, has created a group of portraits that examines the mixtures of race, ethnicity, nationality, and language that we find among members of our society. We generally fail to appreciate these facts, and thus we misinterpret them, and incorrectly place people in categories, often with unfortunate results. Many different mixtures can be found in single families.
      I am not at all satisfied by my translation. It's too complicated, for starters. Well, I was trying to explain something complicated, so that isn't a total loss.

      Cyjo has tried to get us to look at some of the complications of human experience that most of us ignore or grossly oversimplify, particularly in the cases of emigration from Korea and elsewhere to the US and internal migrations in China, and of ethnic and cultural mixture. She has worked in Korea, China, and the US.

      This work is not a putdown of the various kinds of humans portrayed. It is an invitation to consider how we see a wide range of other people, and how our vision is colored by what we know or fail to know or just make up about various factors that go into human identities.

      It also functions as a kind of Rohrschach or Thematic Apperception Test, in either case revealing more about most viewers than about the subjects of the pictures, or about the artist. I had to put a lot of effort over many years into learning how not to fall into that trap.

      Back off, man. I'm a logician.—GOPBusters™

      by Mokurai on Thu Jun 26, 2014 at 12:09:37 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  it's you. nt (5+ / 0-)

    Retrospectives on 25th anniversary of Tiananmen at Chinafile.com

    by Inland on Wed Jun 25, 2014 at 03:31:01 PM PDT

      •  Freud said, (4+ / 0-)

        "Somtimes it's just a cigar".  Not every notice of race other than your diary is racist.

        Retrospectives on 25th anniversary of Tiananmen at Chinafile.com

        by Inland on Wed Jun 25, 2014 at 03:45:00 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  privilege is a hell of a drug (0+ / 0-)

          please do read what I wrote with more care and then meditate on it.

          •  Darkness! (0+ / 0-)

            The easily offended deserve to be easily offended.--God

            by Flyswatterbanjo on Wed Jun 25, 2014 at 07:25:34 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  You are a spectacular asshole.........eom (0+ / 0-)
          •  On second thought, the diary is pretty offensive. (5+ / 0-)

            It's more than just you being unable to figure out a photo essay.

            You look at mixed race families and think "freak show". You apparently don't realize that outside of racists, depictions of mixed families sell breakfast cereal.  Thanks in part to people who provide humane faces of mixed race families, most everyone besides unrepentant racists aren't taken aback or disgusted by it or wish it into a dark corner.  So meditate on that.

            But then again, you also complain that not enough black men are included in it.  Because it's bad to not include black men in the freak show?  Or because you have a chip on your shoulder and really need something to knock it off for you to have a good day?

            Well, you figure it out.  

            Retrospectives on 25th anniversary of Tiananmen at Chinafile.com

            by Inland on Wed Jun 25, 2014 at 08:02:23 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  yes, mental health services are available (1+ / 1-)
              Recommended by:
              awesumtenor
              Hidden by:
              Be Skeptical

              for your deeply internalized white supremacy and how it is interfering with your ability to read and think coherently. do seek out help. again, the white racial frame is one hell of a drug. again, i do suggest that you actually read what i wrote, follow the links, and then do some hard thinking.

              •  you dont HR (0+ / 0-)

                those with whom you have disagreed...particularly when you have chosen to express said disagreement with gratuitous ad hominem.

                Your disagreeing with the diary does not justify your calling the diarist an asshole.

                Rec'd to offset out of pocket HR

                Fear doesn't just breed incomprehension. It also breeds a spiteful, resentful hate of anyone and everyone who is in any way different from you.

                by awesumtenor on Wed Jun 25, 2014 at 11:45:13 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  That's bullshit. Here's why: (0+ / 0-)

                  It's not based on disagreement.  It's based on offensive comments chaunceydeblahblah has made against other users in this diary.

                  gratuitous ad hominem:

                  your deeply internalized white supremacy
                  Stating another Dkos user has psychiatric problems requiring treatment.  That is routinely HR'd here, and you know it.

                  And then his standard condescending and insulting crypto-academic horseshit:

                  the white racial frame is one hell of a drug. again, i do suggest that you actually read what i wrote, follow the links, and then do some hard thinking.
                  Were the diarist writing about just about anything else he would have been banned long ago.  But he has the privilege of publishing his nasty drivel here to the shame of this website.
            •  From what I gathered, (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Flyswatterbanjo

              it was the labeling of the photos in such a manner that caused the "freak show" comment, not the subjects of the photo gallery themselves.

      •  The suggestion that someone disagrees with you... (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Be Skeptical, leevank, worldlotus

        ...on a question of artistic interpretation does NOT imply "ignorance" on either side of the discussion.

        When I was young, my military dependent ID photo required that I hold a signboard under my chin...just like a criminal's mug shot! (If you've never seen the old-style DOD dependent ID, here's an example.) Everybody knows that only criminals have to do that...oh, wait...no, it was just a photograph.

        OK, that's a trivial example, but I think you're reaching a bit on this one.

        The word "parent" is supposed to be a VERB, people...

        by wesmorgan1 on Wed Jun 25, 2014 at 06:23:10 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  a photo is never "just" a photo (0+ / 0-)

          volumes and volumes and volumes have been written on the topic. do seek them out. many volumes have been written about the semiotics of race and representation.

          and yes, oftentimes disagreement is rooted in ignorance.

          if you read what I wrote carefully, and follow some of the links, I am not interested in questions of "art" or "craft". I could care less about what the artistic intent or inspiration of the photos.

          •  After a bit of thought...a few points: (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            BMScott, worldlotus

            1) I found your comments thought-provoking until you started drawing connections to eugenics literature, Nazi Germany, human zoos and the like. At that point, despite the incisiveness of your earlier commentary, you went a bit "off the rails" in my book. I suspect that "just like the Nazis" rhetoric actually devalues your earlier observations for many readers. Reductio ad Hitlerum and Godwin's Law have entered our lexicon for a reason, yes?  I found the comparisons extreme, particularly when they were accompanied by little more than a list of examples and a "they are not orphans" proof-by-assertion.

            2) Are there elements of racial/ethnic attitudes and prejudices to be considered? Absolutely; I don't think we can talk about (to use the artist's phrase) "the evolution of identity" without discussing those elements. In fact, CYJO's description of Mixed Blood states:

            Mixed Blood questions and diffuses the historical categorization process of race/ethnicity and focuses on connective, cross-cultural experiences.
            Does that mean that any such examination is inextricably tied to eugenics, white supremacy, Nazis and the like? Nope.

            3) You wrote:

            A photo is never "just" a photo
            Perhaps not--we each put every photo in the context of our own experiences, biases, knowledge and understanding--but is there not a certain danger in overanalysis?

            4) I should have been more clear in my original comment. I'm making a distinction between CYJO's work (I went to her site and looked at the broader range of photos there, which gave me a better impression of her "point") and Slate's presentation of her efforts. I completely agree that Slate's presentation was overly hyped and played to the "exotic" and "unusual" tropes; I should have been more specific in my first comments. Mea maxima culpa.

            The word "parent" is supposed to be a VERB, people...

            by wesmorgan1 on Wed Jun 25, 2014 at 08:50:43 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I don't obey Godwin's law or any other contrived (0+ / 0-)

              norms. The overlap between American and Nazi race science is very real. The role of anthropologists, eugenicists, and the like in the global white supremacist project is well documented. My point on the shared fascination that a supposedly Cosmopolitan view of race and globalization and "mixing" and the assumption by eugenicists, race scientists, etc. is a crucial one. On the surface they are working against one another. But the foundation assumptions about race and difference and biology are pretty damn similar even if the supposed goals are different.

              I included some links in an earlier comment on human zoos, if you have not seen such images, or those from anthro textbooks, do so and then compare them to the images in the Slate piece.

              Given the long and well-documented research on race and representation and images of the racialized body, this is not a reach. In fact it is rather obvious for those who have the context and history.

              •  I have the context and history, thanks... (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                worldlotus
                But the foundation assumptions about race and difference and biology are pretty damn similar even if the supposed goals are different.
                "Pretty damn similar"? Wow...I can hear the proverbial bar being lowered.

                You're the one suggesting that a Korean-American artist in 2014 is the photographic heir to "the forces of White empire," "human zoos", "freak shows", Nazism, and eugenicists. You can only get there by specifically ignoring the artist's context--which you disdainfully refer to as the "supposed goals"--and asserting "foundation assumptions" with no substantiation whatsoever. Meanwhile, you insist that your proper context makes it "rather obvious" that your proof-by-assertion is valid.

                Simply put: We can take almost anything out of context and portray it as evil.

                I know the history, I've seen freak shows firsthand, I've read the so-called "scientific literature" of eugenics...and I still think you're reaching on this one.

                At this point, I don't see any benefit to continuing to go back and forth on a question of artistic criticism, so I'll say good night.

                Be well.

                The word "parent" is supposed to be a VERB, people...

                by wesmorgan1 on Wed Jun 25, 2014 at 10:50:37 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  you clearly do not have and have not (0+ / 0-)

                  really contextualized and thought about the history of what we are talking about.

                  What are you afraid of? Why are you disengaging? If you have that context and knowledge, please do make a claim located in the history of racial images and representation about how I am misunderstanding and misreading the subject/objects here. I enjoy informed claims and dialogue with folks who I can learn from.

                  •  Because everyone that disagrees (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Be Skeptical

                    with you in this comment section is being subjected to insults and name calling. Some people choose not to engage.

                    If trees gave off WIFi signals, we would probably plant so many trees, we would save the planet. Too bad they only produce the oxygen we breathe.

                    by skohayes on Thu Jun 26, 2014 at 03:55:18 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  I don't call names (0+ / 0-)

                      I state facts. Many of those who are disagreeing are in fact supporting a racist narrative, are blind to white supremacy, and yes, are ignorant, willfully so in this case, of the broader historical and sociological context of how racialized images have been a bedrock of a global system of white supremacy.

                      In the U.S. many white folks (and many others too) believe that racism is an opinion. Moreover, many of them believe that all opinions about white supremacy as a fact of American life are created equal. They are not. Folks need to do the work on these topics if they want to engage intelligently on them.

                      •  Yet you label people as mentally ill, (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        skohayes

                        suggest they should "seek out help," call them ignorant (repeatedly), routinely say their "ignorance is blinding," that they lack critical thinking, characterize a commenter as being "a cousin to right wing racists," that a Dkos member has "deeply internalized white supremacy," claim that "many of those who are disagreeing are in fact supporting a racist narrative," refer to a presentation of mixed race people as a "freak show."

                        Then there are your usual patronizing and condescending responses like "read what I wrote with more care and then meditate on it," someone has limited "ability to read and think coherently," that "privilege is a hell of a drug" (as if that is a sufficient response to, well, everything),  suggest that readers "actually read what i wrote, follow the links, and then do some hard thinking," and they "clearly do not have and have not really contextualized and thought about the history of what we are talking about," and "folks need to do the work on these topics if they want to engage intelligently on them," they "should think and work harder...much harder in fact," that readers should own their own ignorance and just ask questions (at the seat of the Master I assume), and repeatedly provoke commenters with the pop psychology challenge "What are you afraid of?"

                        You and your offensive, narrow-minded, insulting, condescending, crypto-academic horseshit should be laughed off this site.  

                        •  you are back again (0+ / 0-)

                          do you need a hug? you always troll and offer up such spirited comments. why are you such a hater and so upset? desperate for attention? unfulfilled in life?

                          you know, very often chronic back pain, can impact our temperament and personality. or do you have a chronic illness? we can process this together.

                          if i am so upsetting to you, why do you persist in commenting on my posts? are you a masochist?

                      •  Facts require some proof. (0+ / 0-)

                        Calling an anonymous person on the internet names because they disagree with the point you are attempting to make is not the way to win the argument.
                        You've written some great, thought provoking diaries in the past, and I used to read them.
                        You lose readers every time you act like this.

                        If trees gave off WIFi signals, we would probably plant so many trees, we would save the planet. Too bad they only produce the oxygen we breathe.

                        by skohayes on Thu Jun 26, 2014 at 06:25:54 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  So be it. Could care less. (0+ / 0-)

                          I am not interested in winning friends or fans by compromising, or massaging, or lying about self-evident empirical facts and reality. Those who follow me here or on WARN and elsewhere are support enough and have my back...and their numbers are growing. I am blessed in that regard.

                          Choose to come along and learn and dialogue and be challenged and learn together or stay home. Your call. Remember, I don't hand hold. If you want to be validated I would suggest reading others who want you to be in the circle of trust and give out hugs.

                          As I like to say, you can choose to do the work or stay home. Your choice.

                          Remember, I don't call names. I make observations based on their statements and behavior. If you are a racism denier then I will call you such. If you deny the fact that is white supremacy then I will call you a white supremacist. Water is wet. Ain't hard.  If you are a contrarian racism denying white supremacist troll and demonstrate said fact by your behavior I will describe you as such.

                          Would you also like a hug? Do share.

                          How would you suggest I approach mentally defective racists? I call them as I see them. Too many black and brown folks live to educate and please and hold the hands of white racists with some hope of rehabilitating or educating them.

                          They need to find folks--not me--who are willing to do that. We black and brown folks have enough to worry about without that burden. White folks need to clean up their own houses.

                          I love talking with interested and smart people who are willing to ask sincere questions about that which they are ignorant of. I am the same way, I love learning. What I don't tolerate is uninformed mouth blathering about topics and subject matter that the supposed interlocutor knows little or nothing about.

                  •  Nothing in this conversation triggers fear... (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Be Skeptical, skohayes

                    ...but the condescension and insult wear thin.

                    You have responded to almost every opinion taking issue with yours in wholly negative ways, namely:

                    a) Insulting their intelligence: "Critical thinking is your friend", "The ignorance is blinding"

                    b) Dismissiveness: "you clearly do not have and have not really contextualized and thought about..."

                    c) Accusations of racism: "Cousin to right-wing racists", "yes, mental health services are available for your deeply internalized white supremacy"

                    d) Suggestions of cultural illiteracy: "volumes and volumes have been written...do seek them out"

                    You have made it quite clear that, in your opinion, yours is the only acceptable context in which we should consider Mixed Blood; in fact, you specifically said that you "could care less" about the artist's context or intent. As noted above, you insult and/or ridicule anyone who suggests otherwise.

                    Thus, I see little value in further engagement.

                    The word "parent" is supposed to be a VERB, people...

                    by wesmorgan1 on Thu Jun 26, 2014 at 09:39:02 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  I am direct and state plain facts (0+ / 0-)

                      You misunderstand:

                      "Mixed Blood; in fact, you specifically said that you "could care less" about the artist's context or intent. As noted above, you insult and/or ridicule anyone who suggests otherwise."

                      In terms of the type of semiotic analysis I am offering here, the intent of the artist is secondary, to how meaning is created and circulated.

                      I don't ridicule informed comments or critique. I welcome it actually. Empty uninformed comments and critiques I could do without.

      •  You seem to think that everyone who disagrees ... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Mokurai

        with you is ignorant and a racist. I've got a suggestion: Get over yourself. You're not the fount of all wisdom.

        Bin Laden is dead. GM and Chrysler are alive.

        by leevank on Wed Jun 25, 2014 at 09:23:52 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Those kids look like mine (6+ / 0-)

    I followed the link to the story, and a lot of the kids looked like mine, Lots of Amerasians. Mixed race people like looking at other mixed race people. Beyond that I just don't know.

    “Conservation… is a positive exercise of skill and insight, not merely a negative exercise of abstinence and caution…” Aldo Leopold

    by ban nock on Wed Jun 25, 2014 at 03:51:13 PM PDT

  •  Nude Is When You Have No Clothes On (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    hnichols, raincrow

    Naked is when you have no clothes on and are up to something.

    Strange women lying in ponds distributing swords is no basis for a system of government.

    by The Baculum King on Wed Jun 25, 2014 at 04:08:38 PM PDT

  •  Beautiful pix of humans. That is all. (4+ / 0-)

    I think "stunning" is sales-speak, an eyeball catcher, meant to spark the interest of folks for whom homogeneity is important.

    Those of us who are relaxed about the joys of mixing it up with people of different (recent) ancestry just see people.

    Fight them to the end, until the children of the poor eat better than the dogs of the rich.

    by raincrow on Wed Jun 25, 2014 at 04:44:52 PM PDT

  •  I don't think it's either stunning or offensive (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    worldlotus, SCFrog, Mokurai, skohayes

    It appears to me to be a celebration of diversity and mixed families. It kind of reminds me of my aunt's second husband, who was very upset when his (white) eldest granddaughter married an African-American guy. His upset lasted until they had a baby (his first great-grandchild). At the next family get-together, he was proudly showing the baby off, telling everybody how wonderful the child was, and proudly introducing his grandson-in-law.

    Bin Laden is dead. GM and Chrysler are alive.

    by leevank on Wed Jun 25, 2014 at 04:58:12 PM PDT

  •  sideline observation, they're all hipsters (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sturunner, grover

    where all the women are skinny, and all the men ... well, most of them, trying to look metro-tough

    that creeps me out as much as anything, but then it's a commercial endeavor, pictures of unattractive, acned, and bucktoothed wouldn't sell

    thanks chauncey, I agree with you, it's not earthshattering, but it takes a sensitive view to see what you saw

  •  "Human Zoo?" (0+ / 0-)

    "Race Mongrelization?"

    I seem to have read those exact phrases a few times...

    So... no.

    --Shannon

    "It is better to die on your feet than to live on your knees." -- Emiliano Zapata Salazar
    "Dissent is patriotic. Blind obedience is treason." --me

    by Leftie Gunner on Wed Jun 25, 2014 at 07:14:44 PM PDT

  •  I thought the series was unusual. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    novapsyche

    The subjects were far too stiff. If you told me that they were actors trying out for a role in a new NBC drama about a family, I'd say,  "ok, sure. "

    Or, maybe, it's a clothing ad and they're standing stiff and apart as an ironic take on the usual gauzy Calvin Klein type of ad we're used to.

    But the fact that she wanted to portray them as family was totally lost. She says that there is subtle interaction between them. Nope, I'm not seeing it.  Well, maybe the family all dressed in white, but that's mostly because they're all dressed the same.

    We're sure they're not selling the new line of Ralph Lauren Polo?

    So that's my criticism of the photography.

    As for the racial implications, I AM seeing it through white eyes, so I would never dare to tell you that your perception is anything other than correct from your perspective, and I can definitely understand it -- and I see it.

    Yes, African Americans and other minorities traditionally dressed up in their best for a very good reason. Many still do when whites feel perfectly ok wearing sloppy faded jeans and a t-shirt.

    Maybe it's because I live somewhere that is very diverse with lots of races and cultures, I've become quite aware that the American uniform of jeans and a t-shirt isn't quite as "American" as it used to be as America becomes more and more diverse.

    So, I've tipped and rec'd your diary. There's lots to think about here. Art is supposed to make us think. I don't know that the artist intended THIS discussion.

    But I'm glad we're having it.

    © grover


    So if you get hit by a bus tonight, would you be satisfied with how you spent today, your last day on earth? Live like tomorrow is never guaranteed, because it's not. -- Me.

    by grover on Wed Jun 25, 2014 at 07:25:23 PM PDT

  •  As art it seems to have worked (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    leevank, worldlotus

    Some minds are reeling, some are angry, some are meh.

    put me in the "meh" camp.

    I have several family photos that could be labeled ...American Indian, Irish, German, Vietnamese

  •  You could level the 'human zoo' charge at any (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    worldlotus

    published portrait. Any time you put the picture of a person out for public consumption- you could say it's a type of exhibitionism.  Beyond that I see absolutely zero connection between what cyjo is doing, and whatever Nazi/ eugenic historical examples you are digging up for comparison.

    Also- you are reading the photo essay as purely a racial commentary. I don't see that at all. Cyjo purposely listed what passports these people hold, and what language they speak. So this is not just a commentary on mixed race families. This is a portrait of cosmopolitan, international families. In the old days we would call this bunch the 'jet-set'. The multi-national/ multi-cultural aspect of these families, is far more interesting than their race-mixing. In fact, one family is a japaese father and a chinese mother. In America, they would hardly be considered 'mixed race'. But clearly, Cyjo was more interested in exploring the mixed cultures and nationalities.

    •  race is not just biology--for what it is worth (0+ / 0-)

      it is about "culture" too. Broaden your lens and understanding of how racial discourse works. Even the photographer alludes to those realities.

      What are you afraid of? And no, you could not accurately make that observation about "any published portrait". Do think and work harder...much harder in fact.

      •  chaunceydevega. I make a point to read your work- (0+ / 0-)

        whenever I stumble across it-knowing I will learn something(s) unexpected.

        Aside from asking for clarity, I rarely comment or engage & most definitely never challenge that which is outside of my own living experience or knowledge base.

        This is partly due to acknowledging my own personal limitations or perspectives; mostly out of respect for the author's writ.

        That being said, it is difficult to see & understand "What are you afraid of?" or "Do think and work harder...much harder in fact" leveraged at another's personal perspective or living experiences.  This has the potential to negate another, does it not?  Perhaps to even further limit discussion or contemplation or better understandings.

        I posit that more eyes than any of us will ever be aware of read this site; perhaps living with a personal history of what your piece (or anyone's) historically reflects upon...or not.  Perhaps with research based perspectives...or not.  Privilege... or not.  

        A diversity of unknown proportion with validity and potential.

        To step outside of one's comfort zone or artificially created/induced social construct requires an opening door, not one slammed in their face, methinks.

        •  you always offer up honest and generous (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          worldlotus

          comments. your wisdom and transparency are rare.

          unfortunately, when these matters of race, white supremacy, history, etc. are discussed online and in person--I see this in my classes quite often--everyone thinks they are an expert. They are not. Racism is not an opinion. Racism is a fact with a deep history. Too many folks don't want to do the work, wallow in ignorance, and then become profoundly defensive when their investment in white supremacy and white privilege is exposed.

          Many white folks can't do any deep thinking about white supremacy because it would risk their having to confront some uncomfortable truths about their own identities as well as how they too benefit from white racism. It is too close to home. Denial and ignorance are bliss.

          •  Saddens me beyond words: (0+ / 0-)
            Many white folks can't do any deep thinking about white supremacy because it would risk their having to confront some uncomfortable truths about their own identities as well as how they too benefit from white racism. It is too close to home. Denial and ignorance are bliss.
            It took an act of congress (Truman) & faithful action by numerous folks, such as Josephine Baker, on different continents to allow me & a few hundred other orphans/adoptees entry into this country.  Whether country of origin or this country- racism was predominate...

            I had hope to see it different in my lifetime.

            Trying to fully understand what has evolved over the decades and what still lies beneath the surface so that I can be some part of the solution no matter how small.

            There is a certain irony regarding my personal experience.   I was adopted by very white people of privilege.  Because of them-and only because of them-I experienced a "white privilege" that would have otherwise been denied to me in this country.  And would have been marked as "less than" in my country of birth.

            Because of my physical appearance, I blend here in the US.
            Heh, until my ethnicity is revealed & I am then whatever the other perceives.  

            'Tis something indefinable to grow up knowing one is hated on separate continents based solely on one's DNA draw.  I do not presume to know or fully understand what all persons of color or different ethnicity experience; all I can do is learn from shared histories & events and carefully pass on what I have learned.

            Especially so to my children and grandchildren who will never have these experiences despite the multiple ethnic strains they carry in their DNA...all because of perception..how they look...

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