Monday, February 27, 2006

Nossuh, There Ain't No Guilt 'Round These Here Parts

Just in time for the end of "Black History Month," come these images from the Birmingham News. These were taken 50 years ago, and weren't printed because:

"[T]he newspaper didn't want to draw attention to the racial discord of the 1950s and 1960s, news photographers from the period said.

"The editors thought if you didn't publish it, much of this would go away," said Ed Jones, 81, a photographer at The News from 1942 to 1987..."--AP News

(this is the guilt being mentioned in the subject title, by the by)

These are some powerful images...

Once, while in Houston helping a friend sell his art, I ran into a booth full of racist images and memorabilia ("Li'l Black Sambo Loves His Coca-Cola Wit' His Watermelon, Oh Yes He Do").

Interested, I stopped by and spoke with the proprietor, a black gentleman with an interest in preserving these images. We talked about how necessary it is to face up to this past of ours; not just to rebuke it, but to understand where it is that we, as a culture, came from. Also, the old adage about being doomed to repeat history was mentioned.

50 years isn't that long ago, in the grand scheme of things.


At 1:36 PM, Blogger patrice said...

it's not that long ago at all. but it's so far that I can't imagine living in times like that.

I love memorabilia of days gone by. but as a white person, even though I'm interested in history from a "this is what happened" point of view and not "those were the good old days" point of view, I would feel uncomfortable purchasing anything from that man. (and I imagine that a white person selling that merchandise would not be able to sell it for long.) not making a judgement or stating an impropriety, just saying.

what sucks is that there are lots of people out there (and I mean LOTS) who hate that segregation ever ended.

At 4:13 PM, Blogger JJisafool said...

"Guilt" seems a little reductive. Maybe even a bit overly optimistic.

Shame and pride work in there, too.

At 4:31 PM, Blogger the beige one said...

well, excuuuuuuuuuse ME!

(ahh, Steve Martin)

At 9:36 AM, Blogger the beige one said...

you know, I never expected the convo to end on that note, I was just goofing around.

Or are people that uncomfortable talking about race in an open forum?

At 12:28 PM, Blogger thelyamhound said...

Personally, I just don't know that I have anything of interest to say on the matter of race.

On the matter of preservation of images, I think ALL images should be preserved, no matter how offensive. Remove any preservable piece of the pastt, we risk missing out on a crucial piece of context.

At 1:18 PM, Blogger thelyamhound said...

Past. Some words just don't need extra consonants.

At 1:28 PM, Blogger JJisafool said...

I think there is plenty to be said, and I usually have no problem saying it, certainly not just because it is open to be heard.

I was poking the bear to get more out of you, because I tend to react to things like this with "Yep."

But, y'know, I mean it about guilt. I don't think it, emotion-wise, has very much to do with it. Curious to hear you explain why you think that is the emotion at work.

At 1:58 PM, Blogger thelyamhound said...

I can speak to that a little--you mentioned shame, which I may suggest isn't all that functionally different from guilt (although that could end up just being another one of our semantic dances).

I concur with, "Yep."

At 3:00 PM, Blogger the beige one said...

Ly's got it...

I mean, what would inform the shame, in this instance?

At 3:49 PM, Blogger JJisafool said...

I dunno, I guess I have grave doubts that the folks that try to block such pictures do so out of shame or guilt.

I think it is more anger and selfishness. They are angry that they have to indirectly accept responsibility for acts they see as detached from themslves, angry that they are expected to feel guilty for things they didn't do. I think it is selfishness because they refuse to see how they are in fact connected to that history, have indirectly benefited from it.

But guilt? Nah. I think we try to project that upon them.

At 2:00 PM, Blogger the beige one said...

JJ, you make some great points here, and it may be that guilt, in this scenario becomes a generational thing.

Gotta point out, though, that some of the alternative emotions you mention would still be listed as ways to avoid or refuse guilt; ask any Psych 101 student.


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