Tuesday 31 May 2022

The Complex Relationship between Skin Colour and Sun Sensitivity

Background: Eumelanin, the primary pigment in human epidermis, has a well-established photo-protective role. It can confer a protection factor of up to approximately 13.4 in some individuals. However, the protection eumelanin affords is not absolute and, further, the susceptibility of human skin to the harmful effects of UV radiation is more complex than skin pigmentation alone. 

Objective: Our survey explored the lifetime prevalence of sunburn in people of African Ancestry based in the UK (Black African or Black Caribbean). 

Results: A significant number of respondents, 52.2% (n=222), reported a history of sunburn. Interestingly, there was a significant increase in frequency of sunburn in those with a lighter skin tone (self-classified from dark, medium and light – 47.3%, 53.5% and 71.4%, respectively). In total 69% reported that the episode of sunburn occurred when they were not using sunscreen, and another 10% could not recall whether sunscreen was used. A large proportion of respondents (59%) indicated that they had been sunburnt while away from the UK in hot/sunny climates, raising the question of whether intermittent sun exposure at high UV indices is a key factor in sunburn risk for those living in temperate climates. 

Conclusion: Our findings do not support the hypothesis of a simplistic relationship between skin colour and sun sensitivity and encourage us to re-examine this relationship and its implications for public health promotion. It also adds to a body of evidence revealing the need for more up-to-date and appropriate systems to assess the risk UV radiation poses to diverse populations. (Bello, Sudhoff & Goon, 2021; literally)

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- Bello, O., Sudhoff, H. & Goon, P. (2021). Sunburn Prevalence is Underestimatein UK-Based People of African Ancestry. Clinical, Cosmetic and Investigational Dermatology, 14, full article: link
- photograph by Garry Winogrand via

Saturday 28 May 2022

Conversations About Home (at the Deportation Centre). By Warsan Shire.

Well, I think home spat me out, the blackouts and curfews like tongue against loose tooth. God, do you know how difficult it is, to talk about the day your own city dragged you by the hair, past the old prison, past the school gates, past the burning torsos erected on poles like flags? When I meet others like me I recognise the longing, the missing, the memory of ash on their faces. No one leaves home unless home is the mouth of a shark. I've been carrying the old anthem in my mouth for so long that there’s no space for another song, another tongue or another language. I know a shame that shrouds, totally engulfs. Allah Ceebta, I tore up and ate my own passport in an airport hotel. I’m bloated with language I can't afford to forget.

They ask me how did you get here? Can’t you see it on my body? The Libyan desert red with immigrant bodies shot in the face for trying to enter, the Gulf of Aden bloated with immigrant bodies. I wouldn’t have put my children on the boat unless I thought the sea was safer than the land. I hope the journey meant more than miles because all of my children are in the water. I want to make love but my hair smells of war and running and running. Look at all these borders, foaming at the mouth with brown bodies broken and desperate. I’m the colour of hot sun on my face, my mother’s remains were never buried. I spent days and nights in the stomach of the truck, I did not come out the same. Sometimes it feels like someone else is wearing my body. 

I know a few things to be true. I do not know where I am going, where I have come from is disappearing, I am unwelcome and my beauty is not beauty here. My body is burning with the shame of not belonging, my body is longing. I am the sin of memory and the absence of memory. I watch the news and my mouth becomes a sink full of blood. The lines, the forms, the people at the desks, the calling cards, the immigration officers, the looks on the street, the cold settling deep into my bones, the English classes at night, the distance I am from home. But Alhamdulilah all of this is better than the scent of a woman completely on fire, or a truckload of men who look like my father, pulling out my teeth and nails, or fourteen men between my legs, or a gun, or a promise, or a lie, or his name, or his manhood in my mouth.

I hear them say, go home, I hear them say, f*cking immigrants, f*cking refugees. Are they really this arrogant? Do they not know that stability is like a lover with a sweet mouth upon your body one second and the next you are a tremor lying on the floor covered in rubble and old currency waiting for its return. All I can say is, I was once like you, the apathy, the pity, the ungrateful placement and now my home is the mouth of a shark, now my home is the barrel of a gun. I'll see you on the other side.

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photograph via

Sunday 15 May 2022

That Place He Goes. By Carole Mills Noronha.

Carole Mills Noronha is an Australian photographer who started the beautiful project "That Place He Goes" a few years ago documenting her father's Vascular Dementia and Alzheimer's journey, born in 1932 and officially diagnosed with dementia in 2018. "This project is a way to create more permanent memories for dad of his life as his own fade over time. My photos, in a way, replacing lost memories" (via).

December 19, 2021 Portrait of my 89 year old father.
Dad has Vascular Dementia and Alzheimer's. He spent most of 2020 & 2021 in lockdown in Aged Care. After months of window visits, I'm once again permitted to visit dad in his room. As I'm not permitted to take dad out, I instead bring some outside to dad. His face filled with wonder. Dad later releasing the butterfly in a nearby courtyard. (literally via)

March 12, 2021
Every Friday at dad's Aged Care Home they celebrate 'Happy Hour'. Truth is, it's never just an hour. It goes for much longer than that. Birthdays are celebrated, cake and alcohol is to be had. After time, with afternoon naps missed and sugar rushes over, 'Unhappy hour' begins. Personality clashes erupt and colourful language is used. We left 'Unhappy hour' and moved to a quiet area where the sunflowers grow and all is good in the world again. (literally via)

January 3, 2021
Today was dad's birthday. He was surprised to hear it but even more surprised to hear his age. We had a lovely, quiet few hours together. So lucky we could given some easing in Covid restrictions. There are studies saying that red is the last colour those with Dementia recognise. (literally via)

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photographs by Carole Mills Noronha via and via

Friday 13 May 2022

Multikulti Berlin

In 2020, Berlin became the first German city to pass an anti-discrimination law aiming to eradicate systemic racism (via). The law bars public authorities, such as police and public school, from discriminating people based on their skin colour, their religion, gender, background, German language skills, worldview, age, sexual identity, physcial or mental disability (via). Several campaigns, initiatives, festivals and networks are dedicated to support and celebrate diversity in the city (via).

"Open-mindedness, tolerance and mutual respect are the norm and discrimination is not tolerated." (Because Berlin)

Immigration has shaped Berlin and "allowed the city to become the European metropolis that it is today." However, the positive aspects of ethnic diversity have been acknowledged only recently. Immigrants used to be seen as a burden who needed to be tolerated rather than included in society. Today, Berlin is promoting itself as a city open to different cultures and ethnicities (via).

Berlin likes to portray itself as Germany's most international city, a capital with a tolerant, worldly population that celebrates its diversity in street festivals, ethnic restaurants, and demonstrations for minority rights. "Multikulti," slang for multikulturell (multicultural), denotes an accepting attitude toward different cultures and religions, and by any standard Berlin is indeed international: 13% of its population has a non-German background (more than any other part in Germany); the culture, nightlife, and social scenes are a global potpourri. (via)

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photograph (Berlin, 1971) via

Wednesday 11 May 2022

That one can love another...

"That one can love another of the same gender, that is what the homophobe really cannot stand."

photograph by Garry Winogrand via

Sunday 8 May 2022

Narrative images: A Sunday in Central Park Zoo, 1967

“In the photograph, we see a white woman and a black man, apparently a couple, holding the product of their most unholy of unions: monkeys. In projecting what we will into this image - about miscegenation, our horror of difference, the forbidden nature of black men with white women - we see the beast that lies in us all.” 
Hilton Als

"I think part of the aim was to unsettle people's ideas, whether his own or other people's. To move people out of an unquestioning space and to some less settled space in which the authority of rules and structures was broken up a bit."
Eileen Hale, Garry Winogrand's widow

"(...) there is one photograph in “The Animals” that resonates more deeply than others. This picture shows, in medium close-up, a black man and a white woman. The man wears a jacket, a shirt and a tie. She is blonde and sports a head scarf. The man and the woman are each carrying a baby monkey. The monkeys, by implication, are the product of miscegenation: that is, born of parents who defied a natural law - the marriage of black to white - and whose only natural progeny could be… animals."
Hilton Als, The Animals and Their Keepers

"(...) And so, one Sunday, on an early spring day about a year after we’d met, Garry and I found ourselves walking through the Central Park Zoo. I was 20 or 30 yards ahead of him when I noticed a handsome couple walking toward me—they looked like fashion models, in their 20s, both well-dressed—improbably walking with a pair of chimpanzees who were as immaculately attired as they were (the animals even wore shoes and socks). A New York City piece of strangeness, it seemed to me, strange enough to take a picture. So I did.

Then, bang!, I felt myself being pushed in the back away from this odd little group. A real shove, unfriendly, hard. And, of course, it was Garry, camera already up, making pictures, who’d done it. (...)

By now, both chimpanzees were off the ground (as my picture shows, one had been toddling between the couple when I first saw the group), and I finally noticed that the man in the little quartet was black, and the woman white and blonde. I’d already recorded that fact with my eyes, I’m sure, but what it may have meant, or could mean, in a photograph, was something I hadn’t had the time or the consciousness to process.

Garry Winogrand, however, had obviously processed the fact: where I saw only the possibility for a joke that, at best, touched on the crazy-quilt nature of city life, you could say that Garry, by not so much seeing the group itself but instantaneously imagining a possible photograph of it, placed meaning, particularly as it might gather around the question of race, at the very center of what he was doing.

In other words, quite apart from whatever Sunday pleasure or notion of self-advertising had actually brought that couple together with those two animals, Garry’s quick mind construed from their innocent adjacency a picture (or the projection of one) that could suggest the improbable price that the two races, black and white, might have to pay by mixing together. He was speculating, of course, playing an artistic hunch, but a large and important enough one that he felt it was worth pushing his friend aside for. So he did what he had to do, and then, a moment later, I answered by making a picture of him standing by the same family group as they continued their stroll through the zoo. (...)"
Tod Papageorge, 2014

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- Papageorge, T. (2014). About a Photograph: New York, 1967, Garry Winogrand. Aesthetics of Theory in the Modern Era and Beyond, 2, via
- photographs by Garry Winogrand via and via and via

Saturday 7 May 2022

Life Expectancy & Ethnicity

In Brazil, in 1950, the life expectancy at birth was 47 years for whites and 40 years for Afro-Brazilians. The seven-year gap remained unchanged fifty years later despite Brazilians experiencing improvement in life expectancy rates in the late 1990s (70 vor whites versus 63.5 years for Afro-Brazilians).

In Australia, life expectancy (based on 1996 data) of an Aboriginal person is twenty to twenty-five years less than that of a non-Aboriginal.

In the U.S., indigenous Americans and Alaskans have a life expectancy that is five years lower compared to the general population (overall population: 76.9 years, whites: 77.4 years, blacks: 71.8 years, indigenous: 71 years) (Torres Parodi, 2005).

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- Torres Parodi, C. (2005). Racism and health. In K. Boyle (ed.) Dimensions of Racism (67-81), via
- photograph by Garry Winogrand via

Monday 2 May 2022

Quoting Bob Marley

"Prejudice is a chain, it can hold you. If you prejudice, you can't move, you keep prejudice for years. Never get nowhere with that."
Bob Marley

photograph of Bob Marley via