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