Monday, October 26, 2009
I came across the above over at kiss my black ads. It's an example of how even figure that are naturally abstract can be harmfully racialized through color and coding.
The note on the left is a longer note, musically speaking, than the one on the right - a half note next to the eighth note on the right. Said note looks like a 50s beatnik, or laid-back college professor - someone "hip" and culture savvy with presumably stellar taste in music; it's described below as "sophisticated". This note is white.
On the right is the distinctly menacing eighth note. Notice the furrowed brown, the tightly gripped knife with the sliver of blood. It's "bad" music, and it kills. This note is black.
"Kills" may be used in a positive sense - a killer song, as in exciting - but the connotations, especially in contrast with the "sophisticated" note, cannot be read as coincidental. Perhaps this wasn't designed with intentions to portray one race or another, but that doesn't mean that it doesn't reinforce violent, classist, racist stereotypes - the burden is on the privileged to ensure that oppression is not furthered.
On a side note, I highly recommend kiss my black ads. Craig Brimm posts arresting images - sometimes beautiful, sometimes thought-provoking, sometimes offensive - on a daily basis. Can anyone recommend some progressive/political/feminist art sites?