Winter Photo Essay: People of Color
Oftentimes, color is used as a descriptor for races: white, black, brown, and yellow are shorthand terms for ethnic groups that have been produced by cultural understandings of race. I explored the use of terms/concepts like "black criminality," "white trash," "brown voice," and "yellow fever" by having my subjects play with different props and poses. Not only was my aim to discredit the negative connotations of color stereotypes, but to urge my subjects to embrace their individual complexions in a new way. Shame can spiral into silence over racial discomfort, leading people to shy away from their natural color palette instead of accentuating it. Skin color can be a mode of self-empowerment, instead of shame. Thus, my essay's aim is to reconceptualize what it means to give a voice to these stereotypes from a position that not only critiques the negative aspects but asks rhetorical questions about the way they are created in the first place.
Sharod - What is "black criminality"?
|Is it the black hood that makes a black person more suspect of criminal activity? What do you suspect they hide? Why do you suspect they are hiding?|
|Is it the dreads underneath that make a black person seem like "the Other"?|
|Is it the image of a gun that spurs a belief that black people are threatening to civil society? Even if, like in Tamir Rice's case, it is just a toy, does it still promote the image of black violence?|
|In the evolution of "bumptious conduct" to the cultural fascination with trap dancing, have we changed our perception of the limitations on black social life? On who can move? And in what way?|
Sally - What is "white trash"?
|Is it a metaphorical description for the disposability of certain peoples?|
|Do its roots trace back to when Jewish, Irish, and Catholic immigrants were not seen as white? Is "white trash" a social construct that people use to denote a hierarchy of Eurasian communities? Does it have the power to control social mobility?|
Naina - What does it mean to have a "brown voice"?
|Does it mean that, if Naina's voice does not have an accent, she is somehow less ethnic or less traditional or less authentic? Does this lessen the strength of the connection she has with her ethnic culture?|
|Does it mean that we can't listen beyond someone's accent? Do the traits we see in others define their identity?|
|Why should someone seal up the words they have to say? Is it even possible to separate the words we are saying from their source? Or is "brown voice" just a meaningless descriptor that has no relation to the source?|
Tommy - Where does "Yellow Peril" exist?
As an Asian American woman, I feel that it is inappropriate for me to act as if I am asking what "yellow peril" is. Rather, in this section, I will tell you what it means to me, how I see it constructed, what its material impacts can be, where it manifests.