Gorillas in The Mist?

Here ye’!
Here ye’!
Here ye’!
Come one! Come all!
Through me you pass into the city of woe:
Through me you pass into eternal pain:
Through me among the people lost for aye [Dante’s Divine Comedy].

Come and see the mysterious, allusive, dangerous, and sexy promenade like a powerful lion across the concrete safari. Dare to come face to face with the results of an unequal system that many of you so blindly, but between you and me; internally desire and need to validate your hold on power and resources in this great country we call America. This Los Angeles tour of “the hood” (LA Times: “The ‘hood as a tourist attraction: Activists hope to use money from bus tours for community good.”) will allow you to experience the real flavor of Black and Brown people. Smell poverty, injustice, and disillusionment. Learn jive talk 101! Increase your Swagger, or as the natives call it, “Swagga.”

Through us, you will also be able to hear the loud 21st century drums and safely experience the people as they have traditional dance offs between their rival neighborhood crews. On site, for a small fee, get your authentic graffiti tagged T-shirts. This item of clothing is a sign to your friends when you get back to your segregated neighborhoods that you were actually in the Hood and survived the animals. Even without the scrapped and controversial plan to perform fake water gun drive-bys on tourists, you and your family still will have a memorable time.

Legal Disclaimers: LA tour does not guaranteeing accidental shootings, absence of tears falling from witnessing the pain of others, and that one’s wife will not develop a fetish for Black men, and husbands’ love Black women when witnessing them dropping it like it is hot when dancing.

Dances With Aliens: James Cameron’s Avatar Movie and White “Saviors” (Updated)

In our book Screen Saviors: Hollywood Fictions of Whiteness (Rowman and Littlefield, 2003) we discussed two types of white hero that often appear in American movies: the white messiah and the racial masquerader. The narcissistic fantasy of the a white hero who leads people of another color in a struggle of liberation presents whites a pleasing images of themselves as saviors rather than oppressors. The racial masquerade is another fantasy solution to white guilt in which the white hero crosses over and pretends to be black or native American.

avatar wallpaper
Creative Commons License photo credit: gwai

James Cameron’s “Avatar” combines these two archetypes in a movie that might be called Dances With Aliens. What is new in the movie is the eye-popping visual effects technology, with its detailed, stunning creation of an alien planet, complete with exotic flora, fauna, and indigenous population with its own language. But the plot is a pastiche, recycled junk from a dozen movies about the adventures of a mythic white hero in a distant land or on a distant planet, including “Lawrence of Arabia,” “Star Wars,” “Star Gate,” “Dune,” “Pocahontas,” “The Matrix,” “The Last Samurai,” and “Dances With Wolves.” The story is predictable: the coming of the messiah is foretold, he shows tremendous ability and charisma, quickly learns the indigenous ways, marries the beautiful native princess, is inducted into the tribe, and ends by uniting with and leading them in a struggle for survival and freedom against evil outsiders. The white American racial imagination seems to require such stories.

On the one hand,Avatar” sends numerous positive messages to an American and a global audience: it is pro-environment, anti-capitalist, anti-imperialist, and pro-gender equality. It also mercilessly mocks the rhetoric of the George W. Bush administration about “pre-emptive strikes” and “shock and awe” and the use of mercenary armies such as Black water. On the other hand, these messages provide cover for a regressive myth about a white messiah and the noble savages—a white messiah who is reborn as the noblest savage of them all, as in The Last Samurai, Dances With Wolves, and the other movies mentioned above.

In Avatar,” we have the paradox of the most expensive movie ever made, American corporations investing $230 million plus another $150 million on promotion to disseminate an apparently anti-corporate and anti-white American message. Why? Well, first of all, the formula still works: this visually astonishing action-adventure fantasy will be enormously profitable globally through cinema, video game, and numerous ancillary products. Second, it assuages the guilt of a white American audience about what we continue to do to racial and ethnic minorities here and abroad. And third, it reassures the global audience about the morality of white America, which can criticize and confront its own evils, at least in the movies.

Finally, Avatar” is a racial fantasy for the Age of Obama. Like Obama, the protagonist Jake is racially mixed: although he starts out as white guy, he ends up inhabiting the body of an aboriginal on an alien planet. And like Obama, Jake is accused of being anti-capitalist and anti-white. Yet the movie is a supremely capitalist product which resolves white guilt. It does so by dividing whites into two sides: the maniacal white mercenaries who destroy the environment and kill the native population on behalf of the greedy corporations; and the noble white messiah who goes native and leads the tribes in a successful battle to preserve their land and their way of life against the evil whites. This movie is supposedly set on the distant planet Pandora, but it really takes place close to home, for it opens up the Pandora’s box of the American racial unconscious.

Updated by admin 01/11/2010: Looks like David Brooks, NY Times columnist, has been reading here and drawing heavily on the same ideas.  Would be nice to get a link back from the NY Times, eh Mr. Brooks?

New Research Suggests Obama Supporters See Whiteness

New research suggests that people’s political views influence how they see biracial candidates (h/t Louise Seamster).   When it comes to President Obama (who is biracial), supporters tend to view him as ‘whiter’ than those who are not supporters.  The research, published in a recent issue of the Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences, was conducted by Eugene M. Caruso, Nicole L. Mead, and Emily Balcetis.  The researchers used a series of experiments to demonstrate that political partisanship influences people’s visual representations of a biracial political candidate’s skin tone.

In the first experiment, participants rated photographs of a hypothetical biracial candidate.   In the second and third experiment, participants rated photographs Barack Obama. What the participants didn’t know was that researchers had altered the photographs to make the candidate’s skin tone either lighter or darker than it was in the original photograph.  This is, as Omar mentioned, a very cool study.

People in the study who shared the same political views as the candidate, consistently rated the lightened photographs as more representative of the candidate than the darkened photographs.  On the other hand, participants whose political views were at odds with the candidate, consistently rated the darkened photographs as more representative.  In other words, if they agreed with the candidate, they tended to see them as lighter-skinned, or”whiter”,  but if they disagreed, then the candidate was “darker.”

In the experiments where people were asked to rate photographs of Barack Obama, there was a positive correlation between having voted for Obama in the 2008 Presidential election and rating the lightened photos of him as more representative.   Obama supporters, in other words, see him as whiter than those who are not supporters.

These findings are interesting on a number of levels, but most of all the results suggest that our deeply held perceptions of race influence how we interpret visual information.  Often times, people talk about race as if it were self-evident, obvious way to categorize people.  In fact, race is malleable.   Who we see as “white” or not white is shaped by many things, including political views.    This is also another example of the kind of colorism that Adia and Ed have discussed here recently.   The misbegotten notion that “if you’re white, you’re alright,” is one that profoundly shapes how we see the world.

For more, there’s an interview with one of the researchers here.

White-Framing and Whitewashing Children’s Books

The white racial frame seems to be operating everywhere in this society, including in the way children’s books are written, framed, and produced by the mostly white-run publishing industry. This dominant frame is amazingly well-conditioned, inbedded deeply in minds and brains, and often relatively unconscious. For example, Mitali Perkins has an interesting article in a recent School Library Journal examining stereotypes in children’s books.

She raises important questions for teachers (and thus libraries and others) about what to look for in assessing how a children’s book deals with racial matters, questions such as these:

How and why does the author define race? Is the cover art true to the story? Who are the change agents? How is beauty defined?

Consider her reasoning on a few of these issues. One question and answer set is about whether and how authors of children’s books take note of the racial realities of characters:

Ask . . . Why did the author choose to define race? If the only answer you come up with is “maybe he wanted to show how open-minded he is” or “she could have been trying to move the world toward a better day,” that’s not good enough. A better answer might be, “because the particular community where the action is set is diverse.” Or, “because the protagonist knew how to make kimchee from scratch.” The story and characters, not the author’s best political intentions, should determine whether or not he or she defines race.

I see her point about making racial identification part of a real story, but I think it is fine for authors to intentionally work a diversity of characters into a book with an eye to moving our racist “world toward a better day” — and indeed making it realistic for children living in our multiracial world. She next makes this very point in discussing how most children’s books leave out characters of color. Books

must express diversity lest we fall into the trap of the television show Friends, in which an all-white cast lived and worked in an apparently all-white New York City. Sadly, in the children’s book world we’re not too far from portraying that kind of nonexistent America. Statistics show that 17 percent of students enrolled in American schools are African American. During 2008, however, the Cooperative Children’s Book Center . . . found that among the 3,000 or so titles they received, only six percent had significant African or African-American content. While 20 percent of the country’s students are Latino, only about two percent of all books reviewed by CCBC had significant Latino content.

Once again, we see how the deep white framing of mostly white publishers keeps the children’s book world pretty white. The impact on all children of such white framing is quite significant, as numerous studies show. Another issue she raises is in regard to book covers for children’s books. Numerous books are published with covers that downplay the main characters’ racial group if that group is not white:

Consider the advance readers’ copy of Ursula Le Guin’s Powers . . . released with a white model on the cover despite the protagonist’s Himalayan ancestry.

The final cover was belatedly changed to be more realistic. In these cases, and there are a great many, the envisioned sales audience is white, and in the publishers’ view the latter should not have to encounter faces of people of color on covers. On this point, Felicia Pride at theroot.com writes about a recent incident where the initial cover put on books had a white girl on it:

(Cover Photo Source: The Root) liar

Looks like book publishing isn’t all that post-racial, but we already knew that. A controversy has been brewing regarding the book cover for “Liar,” a young adult novel by Justine Larbalestier that’s set to publish at the end of September by Bloomsbury Children’s Books. The cover (see right) features a young white girl whose faced is partially covered by her long straight hair. The problem? The book’s main character is black.

The publisher eventually pulled the many first covers and put an African American, but still light-skinned skinned, girl on the new covers. In this case protests against the whitewashed cover had a significant impact. One sign of anti-racist action, and a first step in antiracist action, is the problematizing of what was once seen as just normal and natural framing.

Michael Jackson and Barack Obama: Connections

Rarely does anyone enter the world and leave behind such a deep social imprint on the collective psyche as did Michael Jackson. Through his

Heart of roses at Michael Jackson Memorial

exceptionally gifted talents, Jackson broadened minds across the globe. He expressed creativity through the performing arts, where he also carried on the civil rights legacy of those many African Americans, musicians and others, who paved the way for him(Creative Commons License photo credit: talkradionews). He emerged out of, and was a product of, the civil rights movement and reinforced some of its most important themes, which gives his music more power. Throughout his career he challenged white racism, deeply embedded racist and gendered stereotypes, and social inequality. By doing so, he helped to shift the course of U.S. racial history. Because of Michael Jackson and others like him, today we have Barack Obama as our U.S. President.

Prior to Jackson’s entrance into the music scene, it was largely segregated by genre, social scenes, and groupings. During the disco backlash at the turn of the 80’s, Jackson’s innovative Off the Wall remained strong, though it wouldn’t be until the release of Thriller that he would become an overnight sensation. The racist and gendered socio-psychological barriers of U.S. society were shaken, and social (popular culture) changes were set in motion nearly overnight.

Jackson’s rise to stardom came when radio waves had recently switched over from AM to FM, and the few radio stations were not equipped to make way for the range of innovative sounds generated by this new pop artist. Jackson’s music was not reserved for a single genre, sound, or audience. Over the next decades, Jackson’s music went beyond radio and television, and entertainment facilities. It was played at weddings and other milestone events. Even as instrumental music, his tunes were in restaurants and other public spaces. He was listened to by young and old as he cut through generational boundaries; by black and white, and many others; by non-professional and professional; by national and international.

Considering racism, patriarchy, and masculinity, he managed to transcend both race and gender in ways that no other artist has done. Messages channeled through his work spoke to all people. With a combination of work done previously by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and many civil right activists and of advanced technology, together with his being a gifted entertainer, Jackson was able to touch people worldwide and promoted changes associated with bringing forth social equality globally.

To a significant degree, the inclusive message and approach President Obama used for his presidential campaigning was in line with the orientation of Michael Jackson and of Dr. King. Like Jackson and King, President Obama was speaking to all people, calling for social change, and encouraging all people to step forward, honor the liberty and justice creed, and do what they could to make this world better. The difference between these three very important figures is that they were working from different societal angles: Jackson was channeling his message as a musical artist through popular culture; Dr. King as a minister working within the realm of Jim Crow segregation and on front lines with activists; and President Obama working within the political sphere competing for the presidency that might allow him to incorporate significant changes through his governmental position.

One crucial difference between the three, however, is that Jackson and King addressed racism much more directly and suffered many negative consequences as a result–such as damage to their psychological and physical wellbeing, and perhaps in the final years for Jackson’s own self and identity, and a premature life for both. While this society has taken a tremendous step forward in voting in the first president who looks like much of the global population, it is still much too racist in framing and practice for President Obama to address numerous major racial issues firsthand as was done by Jackson and King. Nonetheless, President Obama’s more subtle antiracist messages are now being communicated quietly through his actions and decision making.

Many of the new faces that participated in this last Presidential election and voted for Barack Obama were exposed to the influence of Michael Jackson in some way or another during their lifetimes. Had there never have been Michael Jackson in the decades prior, what would have been the possibility that President Obama could have come forth and won the presidency? Without Jackson’s profound antiracist influence on popular culture and society? Had there been no Michael Jackson and people like him, one could presume that the racism would have remained the way it was prior to 1960 where, despite its strides toward desegregation, society, including music, would have remained largely segregated. It would be a great overstatement to suggest Michael Jackson alone brought civil rights changes, but it is fair to suggest that his influence and positive messages touched people of different generations, as well as members of all racial and ethnic groups, and impacted the collective psyche of people so as to help in getting a black Presidential candidate elected.

Whether people are conscious of it or not, more people participate in popular culture than politics. President Obama, like Jackson and King, had a way of appealing to, and including, people of all backgrounds. If there were no Michael Jackson and those civil rights activists prior to him, no antiracist inclinations among the general population would have been well established—particularly among the younger nonblack voting participants in this last presidential election. Likely, the racist fear tactics generated by the media and contending parties would have quickly crashed Senator Obama’s campaign. Most certainly, without the prior exposure and conditioning of Michael Jackson’s music at the collective level that cut across different generations, Obama’s vision of “hope” and “change” undoubtedly would have been less contagious. Without Jackson there would be even more psychological segregation between peoples than we have. It’s a combination of groups that voted for President Obama that allowed him to succeed. He won the African American, Latino, Asian American, and Native American groups by large margins–and even a bare majority of the youngest white people, many of the latter also influenced by Michael Jackson.

As Jackson changed over the years, and became the center of controversies yet to fully unravel, there is no question his fans became saddened, confused, and concerned of what was becoming of their liberating icon. His sister, Janet Jackson, along with her gifted musical talents helped bring balance to her brother’s trials and difficulties associated with fame. The strength she has shown over the years allowed his/their fans to preserve their respect for important contributions both Jacksons made to popular culture.

We have Michael Jackson to thank for much. Music, protest music and spirituals, were the heart and soul of the civil rights movement, and Jackson’s music continued that long tradition. We all have to thank him for his never ending commitment to social equality. We have to value the courage he showed in directly challenging racist and gendered structures, especially in the music and recording industries, and in using his talents in positive ways that helped bring forth significant societal, even global, changes in popular culture and beyond. And Michael Jackson needs to be credited for the contributions he made to popular culture and society over decades that served to help make Barack Obama President of the United States. Thanks MJ, RIP.

Up is a Racist Downer

[Note: This was written with Carmen Lugo-Lugo, and Mary Bloodsworth-Lugo]

Pixar's Up in 3D at the Castro May 29 - June 17Creative Commons License photo credit: Steve Rhodes

In May 2009, Pixar released Up, its tenth animated feature. It premiered as the top grossing film the week of its release, and has netted more than $226 million in its first four weeks alone. Beyond the box office, popular reception has been far from critical, as high profile film critics have offered reviews that might be described as positive, glowing, and celebratory.

Even in the blogosphere where we might anticipate a bit more reflection, acritical responses and ringing endorsements have ruled the day, raining praise upon Up for everything from its uplifting message of enlightenment and the scientific puzzles it posesto the kindness of the studio that produced it. Moreover, At first blush, it might appear that Up also confirms that the United States, as discernible in its popular cultural forms, has indeed entered an era after or beyond the difficulties of race, gender, and sexuality. After all, it features no princess in need of rescue or prince charming to slay the dragon; it contains none of the uncomfortable images of racial and ethnic difference so prominent (in retrospect) in some of the classics-such as the crows in Dumbo, King Louie in the Jungle Book, or the Siamese cats in Lady and the Tramp. However, such an analysis of Up would be a misreading of the film itself and of animated cinema over the past two decades-an argument we briefly rehearse here and elaborate in our forthcoming book Animating Difference. Moreover, as discuss in our forthcoming book, we advocate multiplying the white racial frame, which helps illuminate popular culture, as in the recent consideration of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, but which we believe should more fully foreground the centrality of race, gender, and sexuality-what we dub white racial (hetero)sexist frames.

Up focuses on the life of Carl Fredericksen (voiced by Ed Asner). Although set in the present, the past weighs on the narrative, particularly Carl’s love for his childhood sweetheart and wife Ellie, whose death leaves him alone and isolated in a quickly changing world, truncating their shared dreams of traveling to Paradise Falls in South America (modeled after Angel Falls in Venezuela) to shed the burdens of modern life. The turning of the movie is Carl’s struggle to retain his autonomy, property, and memory of Ellie from the forces of development encroaching upon him. Resisting a court order compelling him to be institutionalized, he engineers his escape by attaching thousands of balloons to his house, which literally lift him, and inadvertently a young scout, named Russell, who has stowed-away, up. After crash landing near Paradise Falls, the odd couple set out to the explore the environs, encountering a legendary tropical bird that Russell names Kevin, who with the assistance of a talking dog they also encounter in the new land, the pair struggle to save from an unscrupulous explorer, idolized by Carl as a youth. In the end the adventure, driven by the force of heterosexual love, rejuvenates Carl who changes from crotchety shut-in to community volunteer, becoming Russell’s surrogate father in the process.

Up can be seen as a touching story and artistic triumph to be sure. But more importantly, the film underscores the ways in which animated films use difference without appealing to stereotypes to express prevailing understandings about human possibilities, social relationships, and cultural categories.

Nearly a half-century after the civil rights movement and the second wave of feminism, it centers on the adventures of two males (a boy and a man) transformed through the raceless, homosocial bond forged in the wild making the “right choices” as individuals, thus “doing the right thing,” in this case, defending the defenseless. This is extremely important, given that Russell (the child) is Asian, yet his race is rendered invisible during the adventure. Russell’s values, imparted to him by US society, his family, and the Boy Scouts are similar to those of Carl. Russell tells us he is basically fatherless, and seems to have a void his (Asian) mother cannot fill. The child is looking for a father and finds one in Carl’s individualistic white masculinity. This story of white masculinity burdened with special obligations and tested in a hostile environment beset by evil reiterates the facts of whiteness and the race of masculinity.

The setting of Up further underscores this racialized and gendered morality play: the threats of urban development and technology and the changes associated with them (integration, big government) provide an allegory and grounding for white male resentment, expressed daily on talk radio, cable news, and internet chat rooms, while encouraging a kind of nostalgia for simpler times in which individual action mattered and entities like the Boy Scouts groomed young white men for their duties in life. Thus, Russell may not be white, but the institutions he belongs to (like the Boy Scout), and his interactions with White men (like Carl, and the unscrupulous explorer) are teaching him how to become an honorary straight white man. Moreover, Paradise Falls anchors not only Carl’s and Ellie’s dreams, but a geography of difference in which exoticism, escape, and opportunity are projected onto a place in the South, surprisingly absent of indigenous people and surprisingly easy to get to and claim for yourself.

Hence, the ideal space of imperial fantasy is open to the discovery of and in need of protection by (white) adventurers of the North. Finally, heterosexual romance and a failed quest for family propel Up, for it is desire for difference as much as attraction and commitment that bind Carl and Ellie to one another and compel Carl to repulse the force impinging on him as a white man by casting off the constraints of modernity and the chaos of change.

Visual Racism in “Historical” Photo

image0012-300x246A couple of weeks ago, an administrative assistant working for a Republican elected official  in the Tennessee state legislature sent around an email with this image (from here) and the caption,  “Historical Keepsake Photo.”

As you may or may not be able to tell from the image, it depicts all the presidents of the U.S. through to the current one, and in place of a portrait of President Obama, there is only a dark square with two eyes peering out.    The image evokes the racist blackface iconography characteristic of the Jim Crow era.

Just as we witnessed during the campaign, racist imagery has been a consistent feature of the white response to Obama’s emergence on the national political scene.

The fact that this came from a state government office suggests that this sort of white supremacy is not relegated to some marginal, fringe element of the population, but rather resonates within the mainstream of elected politicians.

If there’s a bright spot here, it’s that someone – an unnamed administrative assistant – thought that the image was wrong and forwarded it to someone outside her office.      It’s these kind of ‘race traitors’ that can work to disrupt the persistent repetition of the drum beat of white supremacy.

Television Racism

Television plays a central role in perpetuating the four-centuries-old white racist framing of African Americans. I was reading today a 2008 article by Travis Dixon (Travis Dixon, “Crime News and Racialized Beliefs,” Journal of Communication March 2008).
Creative Commons License photo credit: Orin Optiglot

Dixon did a Los Angeles county survey of 506 respondents in 2002-2003 and found that a person’s time spent viewing local television news programs’ overrepresentation of black criminals, as well as his or her attention to crime news and trust of local news, predicted well stereotypes of blacks as criminals. This was true after controls were applied for local neighborhood diversity and local crime rate. Those who paid most attention to television crime news were the most likely to be obsessed with local crime and to give harsher culpability ratings of hypothetical black criminal suspects as compared to white criminal suspects. Television exposure was also found to be directly related to racially stereotyped images of blacks as violent. Dixon has concluded that “News viewing may be part of a process that makes the construct or cognitive linkage between Blacks and criminality frequently activated and therefore chronically accessible.”

Numerous other studies by Dixon and various researchers show similar patterns. (See chapters 7-8 here) Today, one major source of many negative images of black Americans (and other Americans of color) is television. Eight in ten Americans watch local television news at least four nights a week. These local news programs, now the major source of information for a majority, often accent violent crime. One study of fifty-six cities found that crime was the subject of one-third of such local programming. Studies also show that local violent crimes get extensive coverage, while local nonviolent crimes such as fraud and embezzlement usually get little. Black suspects are commonly over-represented relative to actual arrest rates, while the opposite is true for whites.

In an earlier 2002 study Dixon and D. Linz suggested that this media criminality imagery likely influences the way many whites view their chances of being victims, as well as the way they might decide guilt or innocence on juries in cases involving black defendants. The media theory called “cultivation theory” argues that heavy exposure to television content about the social world tends to influence how people see the outside society, even if that outside world is not at all like that in the television programming.

Television thus constantly reinforces four-centuries-old stereotypes from the white racist framing of African Americans and other Americans of color like the Latino whose death we blogged on recently –which is one major reason that there cannot be a “post-racial America” any time soon. At a minimum, the white racial frame’s constant perpetuation and reinforcement in the media will have to come to an end before whites’ racist views of African Americans can come to an end.

(Not) The End of Racism

I’m really trying to stay off this blog so I can finish the book, but this is difficult to do when good stuff like this pops up in my Google alert box.   David Neiwert, writing at Firedoglake, offers a lengthy analysis of the elections confirming what Joe’s been saying here.   He ends the post like this:

Too many white voters, especially in rural and suburban precincts, on both sides of the partisan aisle have absorbed these attitudes. Too many of them continue to believe that a black man, no matter how well educated, will ever have “the stuff” it takes to be president. And that’s why we’ve seen the racial voting trends in Democratic primaries that we have.

Indeed.   And, there’s a vibrant set of replies of the post (277 comments!) which is mainly a pretty good discussion.   Of course, my question (which I didn’t post because I just didn’t want to register at Firedoglake) is: what’s the source for the image? (Shamelessly copied here from Niewert’s post.)  Someone should do a follow-up on the good scholarship out there about whites in “lynching photographs” by analyzing images of whites in civil rights era photos.   I wonder where there’s an archive of such photos?

Until Google introduced me to him, I didn’t know Neiwert or his writing, so I spent far too long reading his really interesting blog, Orcinus.    Neiwert describes himself as a “freelance journalist” based in Seattle, but from where I sit, he sounds like a sociologist. Dale McLemore, a professor of mine at UT-Austin, was fond of saying, “Sociology is slow journalism.”  And, as we get deeper into what Henry Jenkins calls “convergence culture,” – his notion that old and new media are colliding in various ways – perhaps we’ll also see more convergence between sociology, journalism, and blogging.  For now, it’s back to the current old media endeavor – putting words, in paragraph form, for the printed page.

Kara Walker Exhibit: Preview

I’m composing a longer post (maybe up this weekend) on the Kara Walker exhibit I saw yesterday at the Whitney Museum here in New York. If you’re in the general vicinity, or plan to be before February, I strongly encourage you to see this exhibit.

In the meantime, here’s a link to a videoblog interview with the curator, Jasmil Raymond, with a preview to the same show when it was in Minnesota.  Compelling, provocative, interesting use of visual images to challenge our thinking about racism.  More later.