The Quiet Racism Of Stock Photography

We at Burn House, have been doing some reflection this week. We have been scouring the internet to find available stock photography and footage that depicts our latest novel. We are compiling The Slave Players official trailer (stay tuned, we are so excited about this).

After our search,  we are left disgusted with what is available. This further fuels our backing of our latest author and others like her. Not only do we, as a society, not want to talk about race and differences, apparently we don’t even want to see it in our advertising.

While we were looking for imagery, that helps tell the story found in the 336 pages of our latest novel we encountered the following:
  1. Enslaved white people – There is a ungodly amount of imagery depicting slavery of most minority races. However, it is nearly impossible to find imagery of enslaved white people.The closest substitute we could find was white people in jail cells. When we searched for “white slaves” there were literally photos of African American people among the top search results. Also a confederate flag, sex slaves, white people enslaved by the corporate machine, the word slave in letterpress letters, broken shackles, Abraham Lincoln, and one white girl with dirt on her face doing laundry and smiling for the camera.This is so appalling. Not nearly as disgusting as what you will find if you look for African American slaves — heart-wrenching — the truth of our countries history.It’s not that white people haven’t been enslaved, because they were, but you don’t hear about that in our textbooks.
  2. Platonic bi-racial relationships – One of the most endearing pieces of The Slave Players is the most beautiful relationship that develops unexpectedly between a young white girl and an older African American man. This relationship adds to the multi-dimensionality of this novel (one of the many reasons we felt compelled to publish). 

    These characters, Willie and Olivia, are fast 
    friends and care for each other in the most beautiful platonic way — that of a relationship that may develop between a grandfather and his grand-daughter. And even if it isn’t available in contemporary stock photography, modern families are bi-racial.There are African American grandfathers with white grandchildren. While the KKK would like to believe this isn’t the norm, modern American families come in all different packages today. This is what “Makes America Great” Already!

    So why, if our modern American families are so unique, does or media and advertising only depict families of one-race, straight and in matching outfits from Target. There is an overwhelming lack of imagery outside of what once was a traditional family. 
    So, today’s stock photographers, consider this a challenge, depict the real America! Give our media and advertising something to work with. Allow them to include what a “real” family looks like.

  3. White people working in cotton fields – In our novel, a black army, turns the racism in a small rural town on its head and grants plantation and slave ownership to the black citizens and enslaves the white citizens (who have treated other minorities unfairly). When searching for this imagery, we looked for tons of different terms, but found one search most informing. If you search for “white people picking cotton” the results include white people picking fabric samples. Nine pages of white people looking at clothing items, putting away white pressed sheets, pillows and sitting at sewing machines. If you search “black people picking cotton” there is a full page of African American people picking cotton. Not ONE SINGLE picture of a black person looking at clothes, or sheets, or pillows. NOT ONE!

So, I invite you to reflect with us. What does available stock photography say about where we are as a country, about the racism that is apparent in everyday life, for so many people. Does it depict the ways racism is hidden in everything we do, all interactions, all advertising and media? How do we change this hurtful part of our past and present, when it is so ingrained in EVERYTHING?

Please join the conversation! Let us know how you feel and what you think

BHP staff

Dear KKK, stop being terrible people

After reading the letter several times, those of us at The Leader were unsure of how to handle the situation. It was unnerving to receive the letter, considering that it was a very calculated action but we were told to simply ignore the letter because it was sent to campuses nationwide.

Ignoring things like this is the opposite of what should be happening. Letting these ideals thrive in isolation only deals more damage and gives them more power.

It seemed crazy that they should ask us to support them and their ideals through this newspaper but it also reminded us that there are people who do think this way and we are not helpless in speaking out against it.

Though we did not do anything with the letter, we felt it was only right to take charge of the medium which they reached out to and spread our own message: The normalization of this hate has to stop.


The Leader

The Communitarian responds to KKK letter

Oct. 2 The Communitarian received a letter to the editor from the Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan (KKK). The purpose of the letter was to inform the DCCC community about a newly released novel, titled “The Slave Players,” which they suggest should be banned.

As an African-American and a journalist, I admit I was a little disturbed by parts of the book. For instance, Sedgewick beats a female white reporter with a switch on national television, after discussing a resolution with the president. The general wanted to make an example of the reporter.

Did the book motivate or offend me to the point of my resorting to violence? Absolutely not.

The bottom line is, “The Slave Players” is harmless. It’s just fiction. The author has freedom of speech, just as the KKK does.

For what it’s worth, I enjoyed the book and encourage others to purchase it.

Contact Theresa Rothmiller at communitarian@mail.dccc. edu

The Rocket responds to KKK letter — we refuse to be used as a weapon in a war against diversity and difference, against multiculturalism and unity.

A few weeks ago, The Rocket staff received a letter from the “Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan” (KKK). The staff initially decided not to publish it, as The Rocket does not condone the acts, beliefs, or tenants of the KKK. We felt by publishing the letter we would be giving a voice to the very hate we aim to extinguish with factual and intensive reporting at The Rocket. After a few weeks of consideration, we have decided to publish the letter, not because our opinions on the KKK have changed, but because we feel the SRU community should have an opportunity to see what these kinds of groups are doing.

While we respect the difficulty of the decision all these students have had to make, we truly believe publishing this piece along with our own editorial is important in showing the power that the media can have– even student media like The Rocket.

The KKK is reaching out to a very specific population by mailing this letter to us and other student newspapers: they are reaching out to young, college-educated students who are still forming opinions about the world they live in. The KKK has a reputation for being a boys club full of old men, but don’t make the mistake of thinking them stupid. Their outreach to college students through college media is calculated and purposeful. They are recruiting. They are reaching out to student media so that if you, as a student at SRU, pick up a copy of The Rocket, and see the first two lines you are seeing them telling you that they have been misrepresented, that they are not a hate group.

As the staff of an award-winning student newspaper with a history of excellence, we refuse to be used as a weapon in a war against diversity and difference, against multiculturalism and unity. The Rocket staff is publishing this letter not to further its message but to prove that there are people, groups, and systems of power which aim to exploit the media, particularly media targeted towards young, educated people.

York College responds to the KKK with “love conquers bigotry”

“It’s scary,” said the Administrative Specialist for Scholarship Enterprises at York Julissa Contreras. “I didn’t really hear about it but it’s scary to think they have access to send a letter like that to the college.” Contreras also thinks the organization targeted York College specifically because of its diversity.

Dr. George White, the chairman to the History Department, said he received a copy of the letter along with a few other professors. He found their message disturbing.

“I definitely think this is something to be taken seriously,” said White. “I think this is something that’s definitely been on the rise since the 2016 elections.” Dr. White added that the college should still remain vigilant although campus officials make sure to protect students.“Giving the nature of the klan they are pretty much cowards. I don’t think they would come here to Southeast Queens trying to start trouble,” said White.

Trump’s speeches about building a wall on the Mexico border and encouraging supporters to hit those who protested against him were reported by various news outlets. CNN listed a number of hate crimes spawning from Trump’s election win including the Brooklyn park with “Go Trump” and swastikas graffitied on the playground. Swastikas, vandalized cars and buildings all appeared after Trump’s victory, although he denied fueling hate inspired groups.

His response to the Charlottesville protests two days after demonstrations began fueled further controversy. He said “there is blame on both sides” in a news conference held at his Manhattan home.

Republican leaders like Senator Orrin Hatch told Trump to “call evil by its name” and disagreed with Trump’s lack of specificity.

David Tobo, the York College student government president, said administration should always address these sorts of issues to the student community and continuously advocate for racial equality.

“What some people want to do is divide as opposed to bringing people together. People want to pick fights with you when there’s actually an underlying issue,” said Tobo. “Why do we have to feed into peoples hate instead of building a community? You don’t really feed into a bully, you try to move past it. It’s really about understanding that love conquers bigotry.”