My blogrolling compatriot Michael King made an observation a few days ago about how a pair of wire photographs of people wading through New Orleans had borne distinctly different caption language describing the very same actions ---as performed by whites and blacks.
The light-skinned chick found the food she had with her, but the black guy had looted his.
But, as Mike apparently suspected, context is everything.
Jack Stokes, AP's director of media relations, confirmed today that [photographer Dave] Martin says he witnessed the people in his images looting a grocery store. "He saw the person go into the shop and take the goods," Stokes said, "and that's why he wrote 'looting' in the caption."And the caption on the photo from the other wire service (Agence France-Presse) was written by Chris Graythen, who says:
I wrote the caption about the two people who 'found' the items. I believed in my opinion, that they did simply find them, and not 'looted' them in the definition of the word. The people were swimming in chest deep water, and there were other people in the water, both white and black. I looked for the best picture. there were a million items floating in the water - we were right near a grocery store that had 5+ feet of water in it. it had no doors. the water was moving, and the stuff was floating away. These people were not ducking into a store and busting down windows to get electronics. They picked up bread and cokes that were floating in the water. They would have floated away anyhow.We've all been fools if we've been believing that racial tensions in America had somehow gone away. New Orleans has done much to reignite some embers I thought had gone cold.