A flyer posted in the part of downtown Seattle being occupied by protesters makes it clear that white people need a stern talking-to.
The flyer bearing the title of “Dear non-black photographers” set out rules for photographing what takes place in Seattle’s Capitol Hill Occupied Protest area.
Given the generally lawless nature of the Seattle protesters, it wasn’t clear from the flyer if it had the support of protest leaders.
The flyer, posted by a journalist named Jadmyne Keimig (whose Twitter account appears sympathetic to the protesters’ cause) called into question the purity of the motives of those taking pictures in the “occupied” zone.
— jasmyne keimig (@jasmynekeimig) June 16, 2020
“Why are you photographing? For personal gain, or to help the movement?” the flyer asked.
“If you are profiting off your photos, is a percentage of the profits being allocated towards organizations that are helping the BLM movement?” it also said.
“Are you showing up to support or showing up for the spectacle?” it said.
The red ink portions of the flyer were smudged, but one could be seen to read, “Have you educated yourself on systemic racism and your potential contributions to it?”
The flyer had one very serious section, in which it asked that photographs not be taken of people’s faces without their consent, urging photographers to blackout faces, tattoos or clothing, noting that police use images to make arrests.
“These arrests can be reduced by prioritizing the protection of protestor identities,” the flyer stated. “We’ve already seen that police officers have no problem exaggerating peoples part in protests or entirely falsifying encounters.”
The flyer closed with a diversity challenge.
“If your work lacked diversity prior to documenting these protests (or highlighting black pain) what’s your plan going forward to diversify your work?” it said.
The flyer drew condemnation on Twitter — especially since its rules were specifically aimed at readers based on their race.
Nothing says end racism like a different set of rules for different races…
— Art Vandelay (@tankeroffof) June 15, 2020
The *selfie* generation. The *woke* generation, expecting privacy, in public. LOL
— Diane Theobald (@PKLady22) June 15, 2020
Seems like there is an awful lot of anti-white discrimination going on inside “The Chop.”
— WATCHFULCAT3 (@ChrisCa89333971) June 15, 2020
The foundational idea of the flyer — that blacks can best photograph black protests, received an endorsement from Gioncarlo Valentine, an award-winning American photographer who contributes to The New York Times.
Valentine said most white photographers covering protests that are related to the death of George Floyd come up short.
“If white photographers and photojournalists cared about Black people and their Black peers, beyond putting a pointless black square on their Instagram profiles as some foolish attempt at public solidarity, they would simply decline these assignments, state the reasons why, and recommend someone from these communities to tell their own story,” he wrote in a commentary for Business Insider.
“You can trace the plight and the violence that our community faces to the historical and global depictions of Black people as lazy, violent, and uneducated, instead of underfunded and under siege. When a white photographer shows up to our communities and sticks a camera in our faces, it directly contributes to this lineage,” he wrote.
Valentine blamed continued racism on the fact that white photographers tell the story of black communities.
“The consequences of racial bias and media framing, the continued painting of Black people as animals, as violent, as deserving of extermination, as anything other than human, is bolstered every time white and non-Black photographers are commissioned to tell our stories,” he wrote.
“White and non-Black photographers continue to pillage our communities, to profit from our culture, our aesthetics, our anguish, while never offering us opportunities to right the wrongs of history and create truer narratives,” he wrote.
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