Thursday 30 September 2021

One day...

"One day our descendants will think it incredible that we paid so much attention to things like the amount of melanin in our skin or the shape of our eyes or our gender instead of the unique identities of each of us as complex human beings."
Franklin A. Thomas

photograph via

Wednesday 29 September 2021

I Am ... Somebody

In 1972, reverend Jesse Jackson shared the poem "I Am - Somebody" (originally written by pastor and civil rights activist William Homes Borders, Sr. in the 1950s) with children of Sesame Street.

I am ...[I am!] 
Somebody... [somebody!] 
I am ... [I am!] 
Somebody ... [somebody!] 
I may be poor ... [I may be poor!] 
But I am ... [but I am!] 
Somebody ... [somebody!] 
I may be on welfare ... [I may be on welfare!] 
But I am ... [but I am!] 
Somebody ... [somebody!] 
I may be unskilled ... [I may be unskilled!] 
But I am ... [But I am!] 
Somebody ... [somebody!] 
I am ... [I am!] 
Black ... [black!] 
Beautiful ... [beautiful!] 
Proud ... [proud!] 
And must be respected ... [and must be respected]! 
I must be protected ... [I must be protected!] 
I am God's child ... [I am God's child] (via)

- - - - -
photograph via

Tuesday 28 September 2021

Our Own Sense of Somebodyness

Jesse Jackson's speech held on 20 August 1972 at the benefit-concert organised to commemorate the community of Watts after the 1965 riots:

This is a beautiful day… It is a new day… it is a day of black awareness, it is a day of black people taking care of black people’s business… We are together, we are unified… and all in accord… Because when we are together we got power… and we can make decisions… 

Today on this program you will hear gospel, and rhythm and blues, and jazz. All those are just labels. We know that music is music… All of our people have got a soul, our experience determines the texture, the tastes and the sounds of our soul. We may say that we are may be in the slum but the slum is not in us. We may be in the prison, but the prison is not in us. In what we have shifted from, burn baby burn to learn baby learn. We have shifted from having a seizure about what the man got, to seizing what we need. We have shifted from bed bugs and dog ticks to community control and politics. 

That is why we've gathered today, to celebrate our homecoming and our own sense of somebodyness. That is why I challenge you now to stand together, raise your first together, and engage in our famous black litany. Do it with courage and determination... (via).

- - - - - -
photograph (Jesse Jackson and Bobby Seale, 1972; AP Photo/File) via

Monday 27 September 2021

El Salvador's Femicide Epidemic

El Salvador has the highest rate of femicide in the world: Statistically, every 24 hours a woman is murdered by a man (13.49 deaths per one hundred thousand women). The number is high despite the very fact that femicide statistics do not account for forced disappereances of girls and women ... in the first five months of 2018 alone, 209 disappearances were reported. In addition, the number is rising significantly, doubling from 2013 to 2017 with 218 femicides a year to 520.

Women are more likely than not to experience gender-based violence. 67.4% of women report having experienced some sort of it in their lifetime. Again, the number is high despite involving only the ones "lucky" enough to have survived the abuse. Of the femicide cases brought to court, only 5% end in a sentence and only 3% carry a guilty verdict (via).
El Salvador’s femicide crisis is fueled by an ingrained culture of virulent machismo, high levels of gang and narco-violence, and a corrupt, unaccountable police force, untrained in the appropriate handling of gender violence cases. Machismo permeates every sector of society, not only as a central tenet of gang culture but also as an ideology deeply embedded in law enforcement, including among both police and judges. (...) The machista ideology shows no signs of lessening among El Salvadoran youth, who were born after the end of the war. One 2018 OXFAM survey found more than half of young Salvadoran men aged 15-19 believe “women endure violent relationships because they believe violence in a relationship with a man is normal.” Eighty-five percent of young men agreed that “a decent woman should not dress provocatively, nor be out on the streets late at night.”

- - - - - -
photograph (1977)  via

Sunday 26 September 2021

"The F-word really is freedom."

“Fifty is a big corner to turn. It used to mean being put out to pasture, but it's the opposite with me. I feel more vibrant; I'm more active than I've ever been. The F-word really is freedom. It's the freedom to have dropped the rock-the rock of addiction, of family, of comparisons with other people. It's being fit and focused and kind of furious.” 
Jamie Lee Curtis

“I was doing a children's book on self-esteem, and I really felt like I wanted to shed the shame I'd been feeling - and maybe make it easier for women my age who had probably felt bad about themselves.” 

“I am appalled that the term we use to talk about aging is 'anti'. Aging is human evolution in its pure form. Death, taxes and aging .... We are ALL going to age and soften and mellow and transition.”

“I don't think any woman wants to be known for being beautiful or busty. I think you want to be known for who you are.” 

“Modern women are just bombarded. There's nothing but media telling us we're all supposed to be great cooks, have great style, be great in bed, be the best mothers, speak seven languages, and be able to understand derivatives. And we don't really have women we're modeling after, so we're all looking for how to do this.” 

- - - - - -
photograph of Jamie Lee Curtis and her mother Janeth Leigh via

Saturday 25 September 2021

Women in Animation Just Need a Ballsy, Single Parent, Militant Feminist, Lesbian Mother to Succeed

According to "Women in Animation", 60% of animation students are women but only 20 to 40% of professional roles in the industry are held by women. The industry seems to be a "boys' club" with "macho energy flying around". Usually, producers are women, men are directors and when a woman is a director she might "want to be more macho, speak louder or lower and make sure you’re not ‘screechy’ (...) behaving in ways that lose you energy because you’re trying to be something you’re not.”

“It is of course a matter of the total male domination in all powerful positions, that’s been going on forever.” Niki Lindroth von Bahr

Typically, “men are the creative leads and women are the jobbing crew animators or producers. Women are there to facilitate and enable the creative voice and vision of men because self-doubt is the patriarchy’s most insidious weapon.” Moving from education to career, women have “their more feminine qualities praised – nurturing, a willingness to please. It’s a restrictive pattern that upholds the status quo.” Kitty Turley

Technical roles (e.g. FX artists) are hugely male dominated: “It goes back to a time when boys were encouraged to like things such as technology and football, and girls to art and ballet dancing. These projected expectations have possibly fed into later interests and career choices. Gender roles and expectations are becoming more fluid though, which is an exciting shift.” Rosanna Morley

But there is hope since the right mother can give women the confidence they need to succeed in the animation industry. Anna Ginsburg says her upbringing by a “ballsy mother, a single parent, lesbian, militant feminist and lawyer" was quite helpful (via). Solution found.

photograph (Disney, ca. 1969) via

Friday 24 September 2021

"Lady, it’s official, your boy is a big fag."

In 1996, Jake Shears (Scissor Sisters) had "that chat" with his parents while spending their holidays in Las Vegas.

For spring break, my mom and dad wanted some family time, so we flew to Las Vegas. (...) Keeping my sexuality from my family was eating away at my happiness. The layers and compartments to which I tended, the juggling of selves – it was wearing me out, rubbing all sides raw. I was sick of hiding magazines under my bed, sick of sneaking boys in through the window, sick of announcing in the school hallway anytime my mom came to visit, ‘You guys, my mom is outside and she’s coming in. I’m NOT GAY. OKAY?’ I wanted to feel like a complete person, to be ashamed of nothing and apologize to no one. 

‘When we get back to Seattle, I want to talk to you about something.’ She adjusted her lip liner. 

I froze, one hand covered in gel, coaxing my strands to stand. What was ‘something’? Did this mean she suspected? She looked over at me and must have known I was going to ruin any chance of us coming out of this vacation happy. Christ, who cares? I thought. Here we go. 

‘Is it about me being gay?’ There, I had said it. Boom. The pale yellow tiles in the bathroom looked the color of sick. I felt nauseous. It was over. Out of the bag. Neon lights. Phase two. Lady, it’s official, your boy is a big fag. She paused, set down her brush, and extricated herself from the bathroom. I followed and sat next to her on the stiff bed. My father lay on one side, silent and watching TV. ‘Is that what you meant?’ I said. 

‘Is that what you wanted to talk about?’ Her eyes were seeing atrocities on an invisible horizon. ‘Mom, I’ve always been like this.’ 

‘Jason,’ she said, just under her breath. ‘Your father is trying to watch the news.’ We sat through the overblown Michael Crawford show, none of us able to focus on the stage. My parents ordered a bottle of wine at the table; it was the first time I saw either of them have a drink in about ten years. Dad was quiet and went back to the room after it was finished. Mom and I walked ‘to get ice cream.’ We paced and hissed, raising our voices in front of a buzzing food court. ‘It’s a death sentence,’ she said. ‘What did we do to make this happen?’ At one point: ‘I’m never going to have grandchildren!’

‘People do that now sometimes,’ I said between spoonfuls of Häagen-Dazs. ‘Mom, I can totally have kids.’ ‘Over my dead body!’ she shot back. 

We all flew back the next day and didn’t speak. On the way to drop me off at my dorm, we stopped at a gas station and my mom went inside to pay. My father faced forward as the car idled and the wipers swiped off the drizzle. ‘Dad? Are you okay?’ 

He glanced at me in the rearview mirror and gave one small shake of his head, eyes back on the windshield. ‘We’re simply devastated, Jason.’ (via)

- - - - - -
YouTube Links:
::: Scissor Sisters - Laura: WATCH/LISTEN
::: Scissor Sisters - Comfortably Numb: WATCH/LISTEN

- - - - - -
photograph via

Wednesday 22 September 2021

Age + Poor Eyesight = Discrimination

According to a study of  7.677 adults aged fifty and over, those with poor vision report significantly more discrimination, i.e. they are 40% more likely to report being discriminated against (e.g. treated with less respect or courtesy, receive poorer service than other people in restaurants and stores, people act as if they think they are not clever) compared to adults who class their eyesight as good. Those experiencing discrimination, again, show a clear tendency to be depressed or feel lonely, and are more likely to report a lower quality of life and life satisfaction (Jackson et al., 2019).

"People with poor eyesight are at increased risk of loneliness and depression. Our results suggest that discrimination may be an important contributor to this. In addition to addressing the injustice of unfair treatment, tackling the issue of discrimination against people with poor vision could also have substantial benefits for their mental health and wellbeing."
"Teaching coping strategies may help older people with poor vision mitigate the risks for mental health associated with discrimination. More importantly, there is a need for efforts to tackle the negative attitudes and discriminatory behavior toward people with visual impairment in society to reduce their exposure to these damaging experiences."
- Jackson, S. E., Hackett, R. A. & Pardhan, S. (2019). Association of Perceived Discrimination With Emotional Well-being in Older Adults With Visual Impairment. JAMA Ophtalmology, link
- photograph (Environment Transformer/Flyhead, 1968, by Haus-Rucker-Co) via

Tuesday 21 September 2021

Eight Design Principles for De-Marginalising the Future

Consider the poor, and strive for a future where they have plenty. 
Remember those who mourn, and design a future that will alleviate their sorrow. 
Listen to those who are quiet, who doubt themselves, and whose voice is easily drowned out, as they have as much of a claim to the future as everyone else. 

Pay attention to those who advocate for social justice, and work toward creating a future that is responsive to them. 
Hold in high esteem those who are merciful, and design a merciful future for them. 
Remember those who can’t care for themselves, and build a future that cares for them. 
Elevate people who mend rifts and build bridges, and design a future that values their skills. 
Recognize those who are persecuted, and endeavor to create a future where they are not. (literally via)

photographs (Gelbes Herz by Haus-Rucker-Co) via and via

Monday 20 September 2021

Design Justice

Abstract: Design is key to our collective liberation, but most design processes today reproduce inequalities structured by what Black feminist scholars call the matrix of domination. Intersecting inequalities are manifest at all levels of the design process. (...) Design justice is a field of theory and practice that is concerned with how the design of objects and systems influences the distribution of risks, harms, and benefits among various groups of people.

Design justice focuses on the ways that design reproduces, is reproduced by, and/or challenges the matrix of domination (white supremacy, heteropatriarchy, capitalism, and settler colonialism). Design justice is also a growing social movement that aims to ensure a more equitable distribution of design’s benefits and burdens; fair and meaningful participation in design decisions; and recognition of community-based design traditions, knowledge, and practices (Costanza-Chock, 2018).

- Costanza-Chock, S. (2018). Design Justice: Towards an Intersectional Feminist Framework for Design Theory and Practice; link
- photographs (©Haus-Rucker-Co) via and via

Sunday 19 September 2021

Music Theory. So White.

According to the Society for Music Theory's 2018 report, 84.2% of its membership is white, 90.4% of all full-time employees in music theory are white, and 93.9% of professors in music theory are white. Apart from that, composers chosen to represent music and music theorists on top of the discipline are white. In the 1990s, the Committee on Diversity was launched aiming to increase the ethnic diversity of the society's membership. The number of black and Hispanic members grew from 2% in 1996 to 2.9% in 2018.

Ewell criticises music theories being theories of white persons and representing either the best or the only framework for music theory with the those from German-speaking countries of the 18th, 19th or 20th century on top. He also criticises the notion that institutions and structures of music theory need not be examined.

An example he mentions is Heinrich Schenker's influence on American music theory, an "exemplar of a music theorist" but also an ardent racist and German nationalist. The author speculates that his "racist views infected his music theoretical arguments". For Schenker, blacks were incapable of producing good music.

Schenker himself obviously believed that his political fulminations and his musical ideas belonged together, that both were armaments, as it were, in a cultural struggle that would eventually lead to a regeneration both of music and of the society at large in the German-speaking world. (Schachter cited in Ewell, 2020).

Schenker's theory of music is not a theory of music but of genius which implies a biological category with the genius being "an innately superior being" ... and never black. 

- - - - - - -
- Ewell, P. A. (2020). Music Theory and the White Racial Frame. A Journal of the Society for Music Theory, link
- photographs of Miles Davis and John Coltrane, NYC 1959 © by Don Hunstein via. All rights reserved.

Thursday 16 September 2021

Disabled or Not, We Are All Interdependent.

“Another myth that is firmly upheld is that disabled people are dependent and non-disabled people are independent. No one is actually independent. This is a myth perpetuated by disablism and driven by capitalism - we are all actually interdependent

Chances are, disabled or not, you don’t grow all of your food. Chances are, you didn’t build the car, bike, wheelchair, subway, shoes, or bus that transports you. Chances are you didn’t construct your home. Chances are you didn’t sew your clothing (or make the fabric and thread used to sew it). The difference between the needs that many disabled people have and the needs of people who are not labelled as disabled is that non-disabled people have had their dependencies normalized. The world has been built to accommodate certain needs and call the people who need those things independent, while other needs are considered exceptional. Each of us relies on others every day. We all rely on one another for support, resources, and to meet our needs. We are all interdependent. This interdependence is not weakness; rather, it is a part of our humanity.”
- - - - - - - - -
photograph by Diane Arbus (flower girl at a wedding, 1964) via

Tuesday 14 September 2021

Making Our Society Just and Humane

"The convergence and interaction of liberating forces at work in society against racism, sexism, ageism and economic imperialism are all oppressive 'isms' and built-in responses of a society that considers certain groups inferior. All are rooted in the social-economic structures of society. All deprive certain groups of status, the right to control their own lives and destinies with the end result of powerlessness. All have resulted in economic and social discrimination. All rob (American) society of the energies and involvement of creative persons who are needed to make our society just and humane. All have brought on individual alienation, despair, hostility, and anomie."
Walton (1979)

photograph by Lee Friedlander via

Monday 13 September 2021

Stereotype Threat and Female Football Players

In their study, Grabow and Kühl (2019) tested whether stereotype threat, i.e., poorer performance because of the fear of fulfilling a negative stereotype, affected female football players' performance Stereotypically, women are regarded as unable to play football, women's football is considered to be less interesting ... and this has an effect on their performance.

Female football players (n = 80) were randomly assigned to either a threat (reading a text that reminded of the stereotype) or no-threat condition. Those who were reminded of the stereotype, in fact, scored significantly less hits than those not reminded of it. 

The threatened group read:

Although men and women do not directly compete playing football, one can state on a scientific basis that men outperform women in motor tasks concerning force and velocity (Knisel, Opitz, Wossmann, and Ketelhut, 2009). Research supposes that there are hardly differences between men and women concerning the capability characteristics concentration, aplomb, and precision. During this study, the shooting precision of women shall be video-recorded and analysed in order to advance research.

The text for the non-threatened group:

In the realm of football one can state on a scientific basis that there are individual differences in motor performance concerning force and velocity (Knisel, Opitz, Wossmann, and Ketelhut, 2009). In how far there are individual differences concerning the capability characteristic shooting precision has not yet sufficiently been researched. During this study, the shooting precision shall be video-recorded and analysed in order to advance research.

- Grabow, H. & Kühl, M. (2019). You Don't Bend It Like Beckham if You're Female and Reminded of It: Stereotype Threat Among Female Football Players. Frontiers in Psychology link
- photographs by Letizia Battaglia (1980) via and via and via

Sunday 12 September 2021

Skin Tone and Humiliation at the Airport

"I live in Berlin and every time I go back home to Nottingham I get singled out at East Midlands airport – which is pretty small – often by a plainclothes policeman who takes me aside (after standard passport control) and questions me about why I’m in Nottingham and where I’m from and who I work for and what I do etc. It’s extremely humiliating because no one else gets taken aside and I’m always singled out. I have tried various different non-terroristy outfits to no avail.

When I tell the border police this is my home and I’m visiting my mum they usually need a lot of convincing, and also talk to me really slowly as if I’m an idiot, though they are fully aware that I’m a British citizen. To be honest, I don’t really get it: I booked the flights a long time in advance and I do the trip regularly, I don’t understand why I have to be regularly humiliated in this way every time I go home." Belal, 27

"Flying back from Belfast to Manchester after visiting my then girlfriend in Northern Ireland – I was selected “randomly” as I left the flight for further questioning (I was the only non-white passenger). I was questioned as to why I was travelling to Northern Ireland and asked whether I was employed. I was allowed to leave with a timid apology after declaring that I was in fact the parliamentary researcher to the shadow secretary of state for business innovation and skills, and that I could call John Denham MP to confirm if they’d like. 

Initially I was a little embarrassed, as I was taken aside when I got off the plane while all the other passengers walked past me – so it was all in full view and, being the only ethnic minority on the flight, I could only imagine what other passengers were thinking. 

I’ve known a few other ethnic minority people who’ve had similar. One of my friends was profiled and she works for the Department of Education, and my other friend was stopped in New York when trying to attend New York Fashion Week with his job with Victoria Beckham. It was particularly telling when I was an adolescent because my father is quite obviously Indian, whereas my mother is of Irish/Parsi descent and therefore very fair, and there was a difference in how they were treated by security until they realised they were together." Uzair, 26 

"I’m mixed-race (African-British) born and raised in Britain, with a British passport and without any criminal record or anything that might legitimately flag me up for extra security concerns. But despite this, I tend to get extra pat downs every time I go through security. I’ve also been called to one side when about to board flights, and when at the check-in desks and passport desks as well.

The worst case of this was flying Manchester to London and then on to New York, where I got an extra search at each security checkpoint. I was also pulled to one side each time we boarded a flight (after they’d checked my documents and seen my name), and then on arriving at New York, the passport checkpoint carted me off to sit in an extra security section along with people who regularly travel to Cuba and Colombia.

After a couple of hours waiting around there, they searched my suitcase and found some sheet music (I play music as a hobby). We then had a very strange conversation where the security agent was seriously asking me if the sheet music was some form of code. They also asked me a bunch of questions about how long I planned to stay in the US, what work I do, whether I knew anyone there. It was pretty nerve-wracking, particularly as I really started to feel like they might not let me enter the country because the wait to be processed took so long.

When I’m travelling with white people with Anglo-Saxon-sounding names, they never get the extra security checks but I do. I half expect it now because that’s the world we live in. I don’t think the people carrying out the checks are genuinely racist on the whole (maybe some are), but most are just following orders as best they know how.

The problem is when the orders aren’t clear or the staff are under pressure to perform and do not want to miss someone they go overboard trying to do their job partly because cognitive bias and stereotypes are inherent to how we function. We’d all probably benefit from their getting training or support to overcome that. 

I automatically budget in extra time to go through security because I expect to get some form of extra hassle every time I fly. It’s telling that I’m pleasantly surprised on the rare occasions when I don’t get extra attention." Katie, 32 (The Guardian)

- - - - - - -
photographs by Garry Winogrand via and via and via

Friday 10 September 2021

The Tiger Mum

The most prevailing stereotype of Chinese parenting in the United States is the Tiger Mum described as being strict, harsh, severe and very controlling. The Tiger Mum forces her child to parentally-defined success instead of persuing the child's dreams leading to unhappiness in children.

Chinese parents, however, beg to differ and define their parenting styles neither as tiger mum parenting, nor are they convinced that this model would create the most successful children. Their styles, in fact, cover a wide range of beliefs and approaches.

The concept of the tiger mom as Americans perceive it represents an attempt to use American cultural beliefs of parenting as a baseline from which to make sense of Chinese parenting. The “Tiger mom” has become the go-to phrase for Americans when referring to traditional Chinese parenting styles. This attempt to categorize cultural differences into discrete boxes fails to capture the complex nature of Chinese parenting.

Most of the research carried out to study Chinese parenting styles are based on a culturally-biased theory that was derived from White middle classe samples, a theory that most likely does not capture differences in cultural  beliefs. 

Studies that focus on exploring Chinese parenting beliefs often focus on the cultural notion of training, Chiaoshun, which is rooted in the teachings of Confucius (Chao, 1994, 2001). The most important emphasis in Confucius’s school of thought is respect for the social order, including relationships between individuals as well as relationships between an individual and society (Bond & Hwang, 1986). Based on this idea of consideration for social order, the notion of “training” in Chinese culture encourages parents to teach their children the quality of respect in all of their relationships. As a result, Chinese parents subscribing to this practice reinforce harsh and strict discipline, and hope that their children will learn from their instruction. Thus, parenting practices that appear harsh and strict to others are often simply a culturally-based attempt to train children to act in a socially acceptable manner (Chan et al., 2009). Moreover, when adopting harsh language and strict discipline, Chinese parents assume the children will understand the connotation behind the harsh language. Rather than ruthless punishment, the harsh language and discipline indicates parental trust and high expectations of children’s performances (Chan, Bowes, & Wyver, 2009; Chao, 1994, 2001; Chen & Luster, 2002; Cheung & McBride-Chang, 2008).

The parenting style is not about strictness but about instilling Confucian qualities in children. The priority is that the child becomes "a good person", academic achievement is a close second. Since US-Americans do not know this base and only focus on what they see or believe to see, i.e., harsh practices. Chinese immigrant families combine both, US-American and Chinese approaches creating a cohesive parenting style (via).

- - - - - - -
- Wang, S. (n.d.). The "Tiger Mom": Stereotypes of Chinese Parenting in the United States, link
- photograph by Wang Fuchun via

Thursday 9 September 2021

The first object of the coloniser...

 " to plant deep in the minds of the native population the idea that before the advent of colonialism their history was one which was dominated by barbarism."
Frantz Fanon

photograph via

Wednesday 8 September 2021

Eve Arnold (III): No Woman in Inverted Commas

"I was green and awed by the male founder members. I hated the 'there-there little girl' pat on the head attitude of a few of my colleagues." When, a great many years later, she was asked what it had been like to be a woman in a man's world, she replied: "It's man in a woman's world!" In fact, she felt that being a woman was an advantage, "a marvelous plus to photographing".

At the time she arrived, photo-journalism was dominated by men. She helped opening the door for women and beacme "a role model for the legion of women phtographers who came after her" (de Giovanni, 2015)-

Twenty-five years ago, when I became a photojournalist, I was looked on as someone apart—a “career lady,” a “woman photographer.” My colleagues were not spoken of in inverted commas; they were not “career men” or “men photographers”. I was not happy about it, but realized as have women before me that it was a fundamental part of female survival to play the assigned role. I could not fight against those attitudes. I needed to know more about other women to try to understand what made me acquiesce in this situation.

It was then that I started my project, photographing and talking to women. I became both observer and participant. I photographed girl children and women; the rich and the poor; the migratory potato picker on Long Island and the Queen of England; the nomad bride in the Hindu Kush waiting for a husband she had never seen, and the Hollywood Queen Bee whose life was devoted to a regimen of beauty care. There were the Zulu woman whose child was dying of hunger and women mourning their dead in Hoboken, New Jersey. I filmed in harems in Abu Dhabi, in bars in Cuba, and in the Vatican in Rome. There was birth in London and betrothal in the Caucasus, divorce in Moscow and protest marches of black women in Virginia. There were the known and the unknown—and always those marvelous faces.

I am not a radical feminist, because I don’t believe that siege mentality works. But I know something of the problems and the inequities of being a woman, and over the years the women I photographed talked to me about themselves and their lives. Each had her own story to tell- uniquely female but also uniquely human.

Themes recur again and again in my work. I have been poor and I wanted to document poverty; I had lost a child and I was obsessed with birth; I was interested in politics and I wanted to know how it affected our lives; I am a woman and I wanted to know about women.

I realize now that through my work these past twenty-five years I have been searching for myself, my time, and the world I live in. Eve Arnold

- - - - - - - -
- de Giovanni, J. (2015). Eve Arnold. Magnum Legacy. Prestel.
- photograph (Havana, 1954) via

Tuesday 7 September 2021

Eve Arnold (II): Photographing Black Bourgeoisie and Apartheid

In the 1950s, in segregated New York, Eve Arnold ventured to Harlem to capture the world of shows where she hardly went unnoticed. The audiences were all-black and reacted with surprise to her, mostly smiling. Her approach was new, instead of fashion per se she documented skin whitening and hair straightening, recorded social history, as she said. But what was even more new was showing black models.

In 1961, she photographed Malcolm X for the first time; the two developed a strong friendship. When she followed him to rallies and meetings, people spat at her and shouted: "Kill the white bitch". She was escorted from her hotel every day to stay unharmed, every morning started with a phone call from someone with a Southern accent telling her to get "the hell out of town before it was too late". But she stayed two weeks during which she also photographed a rally organised by the American Nazi Party. The moment she raised her camera to shoot George Lincoln Rockwell, the founder of the party, one Nazi said: "I'll make a bar of soap out of you." Arnold answered: "As long as it isn't a lampshade". She continued taking photographs.

In 1964, she documented the life of privileged black US-Americans "The Black Bourgeoisie", a segment that had been hardly explored.

"I spent the last weekend in Philadelphia doing my negro story, and am just beginning to see dayllight and focus - those who made it in spite of the fact that they are negro, and those who are making it now because they are negro - the whole climate has changed in this country, and now they are accepted because of the spending power (20 billions (sic)) - as great as that of Canada - and it is a hell of an interesting story. I am getting a huge charge out of it."

In 1973, the editor of the Sunday Times asked her if she could capture the "tragic and explosive" situation in South Africa and illustrate what it was like to be black in the apartheid system. Eve Arnold anticipated resistance and when applying for a visa told the consul at the embassy that she wanted to photograph animals and people. It took her only two days to get the visa. In South Africa she had to apply for permission to enter the "homelands" of the blacks segregated from where whites were living. It was certainly one way to discourage photographers and journalists. Arnold, however, waited it out and travelled the country waiting for the permission. Once in the homelands, she had to check in with the police every day, or rather, was supposed to do so. Arnold worked outside police hours and by doing so could take photographs that would not have been possible under their surveillance: starving children, malnourished pregnant women receiving very limited and primitive medical care. She witnessed systematic cruelty she had never seen before, families that were split apart, men sent away thousands of miles to work in mines getting a salary of 46 cents a month and the possibility to return home to see their families only once a year. Men worked in terrible conditions, women were often unskilled and illiterate, both doomed to poverty. Her plan was to document the life of a black family living under apartheid. Due to the distances and bureaucratic barriers, documenting one family's life was not possible. Instead, she made two stories, one about men working in a gold mine and one about women and children in a homeland. After three months she returned home (de Giovanni, 2015).

- - - - - -
- de Giovanni, J. (2015). Eve Arnold. Magnum Legacy. Prestel.
- photograph (South Africa) via

Monday 6 September 2021

Eve Arnold (I): Passion for Social Justice

Eve Arnold (1912-2012) was born in Philadelphia into a poor family of Jewish immigrants from Ukraine. In 1943, she married Arnold Arnold, a Jewish refugee from Hitler Germany.

"Although Eve was never overtly political, her passion for social justice and her curiosity about people's lives made her a perfect witness to the emerging currents and trends of the time."

Eve Arnold photographed the Davis family, descendants of early settlers and US-American prototypes, at meetings, having a church supper, ... and after a while suggested that she also photograph the migrants working for them in their fields picking strwaberries, sorting potatoes, living in overcrowded camps without toilet facilities and water. The living conditions  shocked Arnold, her photographs were called "another step in Eve's development as a photojournalist with a deep social conscience". She was ready to tackle social injustice, "not a popular subject then". 

"As a second-generation American, daughter of Russian immigrants, growing up during the Depression, the reality I knew well was poverty and deprivation. So I could identify easily with laborers who followed the potato crop north along the Eastern seaboard, settling in each new area as the harvest was ready for them." Eve Arnold

Once, Arnold came up with the controversial idea to photograph hearings at the House Un-American Activities Committee. "As the daughter of parents who had escaped the horrors of the Russian pogroms, she felt deeply for anyone who suffered for their religious of political beliefs". In order to understand the situation better, she researched and found people who had suffered at McCarthy's hand and were still living in fear. When she went to Washington, she was the only woman reporter, McCarthy singled her out, went to her, rested his hand on her shoulder. Reporters were watching her, other journalists thought McCarthy had befriended her, hence ignored her.

Aged 70, she travelled across her homeland where she found the social and political climate troubling: homelessness, HIV epidemic, mortgage foreclosures... She decided not to take black-and-white photographs since she was afraid they would make the images too bleak. At the beginning of the journey she visited the Navajo Nation, then continued photographing miners, strippers, construction workers, prisoners, church choirs, immigrants, queer transvestite nuns, and the Ku Klux Klan ... the last one she called her worst experience (de Giovanni, 2015).

- - - - - - -
- de Giovanni, J. (2015). Eve Arnold. Magnum Legacy. Prestel.
- photograph via 

Sunday 5 September 2021

"Drugs Paradise": The Dutch Stereotype That Interfered With Politics

The approach of the Netherlands to drugs led to the stereotype of the country being a (too) liberal one when it comes to the consumption and the trade of substances. The stereotype of a "drugs paradise", again, was seen as a problem by Dutch policy makers and made the Netherlands take more conciliatory positions in order to protect the national image. Dutch drug policy has been both "praised and glamorized for its tolerant and pragmatic approach - and condemned and demonized for the same reasons"

European countries thought the Dutch approach would contribute to an increased availability of drugs in their countries. The stereotype of a "drugs paradise", however, was formed well before the policies were introduced and coffee shops were opened.

By March 1976, the German delegation framed the Netherlands as Germany’s most importantsupplier of heroin. Considerable amounts of the cannabis consumed in Germany were also comingfrom Dutch territory, they said in the PG. The Germans pushed the Dutch to increase their efforts infighting drug trafficking as a way of governing the problem. Similar pressure came from the Swedishdelegation, who pleaded for a higher Dutch police commitment. The publicity around drug debates inthe Dutch parliament coincided with reports over significant seizures of amphetamine and heroin inSweden. The liberal tone of the debates in the Dutch parliament annoyed Swedish authorities. At thesame time, the international image of the Netherlands as a drug supplier raised concerns among theDutch. The Netherlands were being framed as an enemy of the international regulatory machine, andthis could have undesirable consequences.

The stereotype of being too lenient and tolerant, a supplier nation, too soft on crime, and a transit country led to political pressure and influenced Dutch attitudes to drug policies; it became a problem for policy makers.

Throughout these developments, the Netherlands unsuccessfully fought its stereotypes of a “drugparadise” with an emphasis on its efforts to fight the drug trade. The oil boycott by the Arab nationspressed the Netherlands further into a compromise-seeking approach that pushed them from stoutlydefending their liberal cannabis policies to acquiring the highly needed support of neighboring coun-tries through a tough stance on hard drugs and the drug trade.
- Rigoni, R. (2019). "Drugs Paradise": Dutch Stereotypes and Substance Regulation in European Collaborations on Drug Policies in the 1970s. Contemporary Drug Problems, 46(3), link
- photograph by Holger Rüdel (Amsterdam, 1970) via

Saturday 4 September 2021

Hate Crimes + Older People

Crimes motivated by ageism are, generally speaking, not regarded as hate crimes even though many older victims become hate crime victims because of being old. The very reason why the police define crimes as hate crimes is that by doing so more attention is given to these crimes - which is also the very reason why crimes motivated by ageism need this label. However, how is an older victim to be defined, what is the minimum age? The police, according to a study carried out in the U.K., do not sufficiently recognise older people as a vulnerable group leading to a lack of coordination of activity to give them the service they need. There are no specific policies and procedures to address these crimes.

Older people are vulnerable to a range of crimes. When it comes to doorstep crimes, for instance, 85% of the victims are aged 65 and over, 53% of people aged over 65 have been targeted by fraudsters. 82% of victims of distraction burglary are over the age of 70, about 25% of domestic homicides involve a victim aged 60 and over although the age group accounts for only 18% of the population, homicides are more often committed by family members when the victim is older. 44% of people over 60 have been or are abused by an adult family member (vs 6% of younger victims), experiences of domestic abuse are not recognised and addressed when the victim is older (via).

- - - - - - -
- Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (2019). The poor relation. The police and CPS response to crimes against older people; link.
- photograph by Martin Parr via >

Friday 3 September 2021

Sacrificing Oneself for the Poor Victim

“It is more satisfying to sacrifice oneself for the poor victim than to enable the other to overcome their victim status and perhaps become even more succesful than ourselves.” 
Slavoj Žižek, Living in the End Times

photograph via

Thursday 2 September 2021

The Geography of Poverty

For his project "The Geography of Poverty", Matt Black travelled about 77.249 km (48.000 miles) across 44 US states to photograph so-called poverty areas, i.e., communities with poverty rates above 20%. In the US, more than 43 million people qualify as poor (via).

In Canton, Ohio, 32.4% live below the poverty level.

In Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 26.7% live below the poverty level.

In Alturas, California, 29.3% live below the poverty level.

In Cleveland, Ohio, 35.9% live below the poverty level.

photographs by Matt Black (Magnum Photos, 2006) via

Wednesday 1 September 2021