Black/White & in Technicolor: Thinking & Looking Deeply at Race

So far this semester, we’ve been reading about how national and local television news and print media covered the Civil Rights Movement (CRM) and helped shape the African American quest for equal rights. We’ve also been watching Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975 on Netflix. Additionally, we’re reading about MLK’s Birmingham Campaign and how the CRM was covered differently in various news markets, such as Mississippi and Virginia

QUESTION: How does a theory of “image event” apply to what’s currently happening in #BlackLivesMatter today?


15 thoughts on “Black/White & in Technicolor: Thinking & Looking Deeply at Race

  1. When looking at the photos in the article “Martin Luther King Jr.’s 1963 Birmingham Campaign as an image event” I found the photos were very powerful and also resembled some of the photos that have been circulating in the #BlackLivesMatter campaign. One of the most powerful images is the one from the Texas pool party fiasco, when the police officer penned down a young black girl in a bikini. If the nation does not see these things happening, I find it would be hard to imagine these things even take place. This is why Emmett Till’s mother felt it was so important to have an open casket, so the world could see what the monsters did to her child. Seeing is believing and without the photos it would be easy to say, that it never happen or that it was the Black person who was at fault.
    I find today we are lucky to all have cell phones and social media, because this way when incidents like this happen everyone can see for themselves. The Birmingham Photographs that were featured in Life magazine probably took longer to circulate, and most likely was not able to be viewed by many at once.
    The article states, “The orderly markings of civilization are juxtaposed with the chaotic introduction of vicious dogs, their presence turning civilization into bedlam(15).” This quote stuck out to me because it summed up the whole article.The quote makes me think of the Trayvon Martin case; the neighborhood watch would be the orderly markings of civilization and George Zimmerman is the vicious dog. Maybe if there was footage of the altercation, Zimmerman may have been found guilty. I think Zimmerman was emboldened by the fact he was affiliated with the neighborhood watch and that fact that he had a gun.

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  2. The theory of image event is relevant to #BlackLivesMatter because the portrayal of injustices against black lives are being shared and circulated over new visual mediums and social media for all eyes to see. Evidence is put forth on a daily basis to record the continued oppression of black lives, and new technologies are making it easier to search and archive these experiences. Davi Johnson writes that MLK intended to “make visible” the injustices of segregation and racism (3). For instance, the violence against black lives in Birmingham was visible to those with access to television broadcasts willing to air it. However, this may not have reached nearly enough people because of the control conservatives had over visual mediums at the time. Now, people have the opportunity and take it upon themselves to capture events on their own to share with the rest of the world.
    Of course, nothing is perfect. Broadcast news still chooses to filter out violence against black lives even though the evidence is there. It reminds me of the scene in Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975 where the head of TV Guide, Merrill Panitt, supports the article in the magazine that criticizes Sweden and Holland for their portrayal of America. His argument being that Swedish television showed too much of the “bad” and none of the “good,” and that only Americans could be the judge because they experienced the good on a daily basis, allowing them to tolerate the bad they viewed on television. Back then there was a desire to not air America’s dirty laundry to the rest of the world, and the act of covering up the bad applies to our visual mediums today. I believe this further encourages people to take matters into their own hands and record relevant events to #BlackLivesMatter, thus becoming an image event with the purpose of visually showing truth.

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  3. I like your reference to literally taking matters into our own hands through the power of smart phones. However, you must think more deeply (as the title of this post implores) through using more precise language when speaking of “conservatives” and different types of broadcast/social news services (i.e. the media echo chambers of subscription newsfeeds, for instance). Consider commenting in more detail about Virginia’s Gov. Almond’s 1958 inauguration speech about education and the Cold War. This will give greater insight into how the rhetorical implications of American usage of terms like “liberal” and “conservative” play out in the representation of POC in the public sphere.

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  4. The theory of “image event” applies to the current #BlackLivesMatter because still today we are trying to portray that black lives indeed matter. Currently the hashtag has spread worldwide for everyone to see, but there is now a new image appearing saying #AllLivesMatter. Whats more to say that now there is a new image event stating that all lives rather than just black live matter? Many people have a shallow understand of whats actually going on in today’s world. We can now see that blacks lives are put on the pedal-stool throughout social media and visual arenas. Like MLK said in his letter . “Like a boil that can never be cured so long as it is covered up but must be opened with all its ugliness to the natural medicines of air and light, injustice must be exposed, with all
    the tensions its exposure creates, to the light of human conscience and the air of
    national opinion before it can be cured.” Injustice has to be put out in the open for many to see and understand. No one is going to understand until we make it clear which is what MLKs strategic plan was. In the now people have the ability to take videos and pictures right in front of them rather than wait and see what the media will make up. Teens now have these cell phones where if something crazy was to happen they can capture it and BAMM, theirs a new #BlackLivesMatter event. This is surely not a bad thing but a new and improved way to show people that there are horrific things happening in today’s society. Unfortunately, there are the ones that do not care and still do cover up the events to try and cause a distraction. Evidence is still shown but can still be thrown out because they feel as if they do not have to show it. Using the “cross racial visual” which in my eyes we still see because many people are no friends with many races, we can get what currently happening to spread world wide through just about anything now. As people continue to see whats going on there is now mass events going to should that #BlackLivesMatter is a social “trend”.(Meaning is my eyes, a national trending hashtag that captures the crisis that is truely going on with black lives that we can not see, not a trending topic.) We are currently using “image event” to take over the world and show the ugly truth of what is going on with the #BlackLivesMatter campaign, as we continue to post on social media and spread the world, we can keep making a change one day at a time. Social media is a powerful thing, lets use if for powerful words/posts.

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  5. This is well thought out, yet there’s much editing to be done. I’m speaking in terms of your mechanics, but also extending your argument such that your repetition about the materiality and existence of black lives brings a deeper understanding and context. The section of your comment on MLK’s eloquent use of rich imagery in his civil rights rhetoric (as quoted in Davi Johnson’s article) must be more fully contextualized. This is especially true because your comment makes several (and I do mean, several :~) references to “now” in terms of what’s happening today with #BLM. It will help blog readers if you provide some examples (visually and descriptively) of contemporary image events associated with #BLM as they currently circulate in the media.

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  6. Nice post — a good beginning. You have some typo editing to do in order to clean up your comment (spelling, grammar, punctuation, etc.). You selected an awesome quote. Please cite the page number so others can find it easily. At the same time, you must think more deeply about the irony of Johnson’s usage of “civilization” and “chaos.” You can make your claims more persuasively and improve the quality of your assertions by referring back to class discussions regarding notions of social contract. In other words: was it civility on the part of Zimmerman to behave “like a vicious dog,” according to your characterization and use of Davi Johnson’s quote? Or was Zimmerman’s killing of Trayvon Martin more akin to “the law of the jungle”? Tease out your argument. You have sound opinions (with which I almost always agree, by the way). Yet, the onus is on you as a writer to provide warrants for your claims (a bridge to how evidence supports your claims and their underlying assumptions). Your interpretation of the facts surrounding Zimmerman’s actions deserve the benefit of closely reading the texts to which you’ve been asked to respond.

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  7. In looking at Black Lives Matter and MLK’s Birmingham Campaign, they are so similar in many ways.

    For one, when the article stated that King was a strategic visual rhetor, in today’s Black Lives Matter protest, we are doing the same thing. We are staging our protest so our voices can be heard and our concerns seen. Just like Birmingham, there was resistance and negativity. In Texas, the protest was met with scrutiny by the police after an officer was slain. Deray Mckesson, a leader in the movement stated, “It is sad that some have chosen to politicize this tragedy by falsely attributing the officer’s death to a movement seeking to end violence.” (08/30/215 Huffington Post) Isn’t this the same thing King and the Birmingham Campaign was trying to accomplice. Instead of showing the peaceful, they opt to broadcast and show the negative.

    Fox News ran an onscreen banner during Monday night’s episode of “Fox & Friends” referring to the Black Lives Matter movement as a “murder movement, and on Fox host wondered why the movement wasn’t labeled a hate group. (09/01/2015) Why are networks allowed to only give one side of an issue, how can controversy be so one sided in today’s society when it comes to race, nationality, or even gender? It appears that a police life is worth more than black lives. To be clearer, it doesn’t matter what color the policeman maybe, he is more important than anyone.
    With media, whether it is cable news, local news, or internet, or even radio, it all shows one side and it depends on the network view of the matter, the person telling or showing the news, or the ratings for the network. It isn’t about the life, it is about timing and the staging of the events. The Black Lives Matter event will be history to someone, we tried to make a difference through imagery.


  8. Today, the theory of “image event” is pertinent when discussing #BlackLivesMatter” and the MLK Birmingham Campaign. Circulating throughout the media are images of cultural appropriation, consistent racism, police brutality and the latter. The #BlackLivesMatter movement is similar to that of the MLK movement because it was orchestrated as a way for us to be heard.


  9. The images use in the article “Martin Luther King Jr.’s 1963 Birmingham Campaign as an image event” make a very powerful statement. While at the same shows the very humble approach watch use to fight for the equal right and freedom of all man kind. You where to take close look at the images use you will notice the no blacks were the aggressors as the water hoses and dogs where turned on hundred of blacks as they conduct their non-violent movement for equal rights. This action in my opinion can somewhat be viewed the same as the theory of “image event” which is used in the current #BlackLivesMatter because it was merely in place to show the world that not only that black lives indeed matter that all lives matter. Even thou in my opinion a lot of people are taking the BlacklivesMatter. movement in the wrong. I think its more of an awareness group for both sides. Because where all man kind should be treated equally. we all have the responsibility carry ourselves in a matter that we deserve respect.

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  10. I wonder if things would have been different if there had been footage? I’d like to think so, but it’s not too easy trying to remain optimistic given all the times when there was video and unspeakable acts of violence and injustice still didn’t seem to matter. I’d like to stay optimistic and at the same time not be naïve, even though I think it’s necessary to remain hopeful in the face of adversity. If not without hope, why do we even keep trying? Otherwise, what’s the point in continuing to educate ourselves and strive for better outcomes for our children and children’s children? How is it that in the face of generations upon generations of deep culturally and politically embedded racial prejudice that we manage to keep putting one foot in front of the other and not simply allow complete descent into chaos? These of course are rhetorical questions — not to be answered in the small space of a brief comment thread. I don’t know. I just wonder.

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