Sunday, June 7, 2009

PDN - White-Washed Photo Contest? Hardly

Is Photo District News guilty of "passive raciscm" in their latest photo annual? In a word, no. What started (here) as race-baiting, evolved into money-grubbing race-baiting here, with a well honed charge that PDN's photo contest is passively racist because their jury is all white.

I have been critical of PDN's past photo contests (No Confidence Vote for the PDN/NGS Contest, (1/28/08), but this charge is just outright asinine.

There are three premises that these charges suppose:

1) By having a jury that looks all white, these individuals will select or be pre-disposed to selecting white photographers, white subjects, or issues predominantly of interest to whites.

2) They should have been actively racist in saying "hey we need a _____ guy or a ______ woman here to round out the color spectrum for our judges."

3) That, independant of race, judge(s) "of color" were asked to judge not for the color of their skin but their stature in the industry, and could not do it, for whatever reason.

(Continued after the Jump)

Premises 1 and 2 are actively racist, as compared to the initial charge which suggests passive racism, and premise 3 results from the lack of actual knowledge of the inner goings-on of the contest, and is an assumption by critics.

The judges didn't have a headshot (or likely even a name) associated with each entry during the judging. Judges don't say "hey, all our entries are about the good in the world as represented by white people, we need some black and asian plight to offset that good so our contests' winning entries appears balanced."

Unfortunately, this charge deserved to stay on the backpage of the Weekly World News, and instead, was brought into, for lack of a better way to put it, the mainstream blogosphere by A Photo Editor (here), so I felt it necessary to put forth a response as well. A silly $1k offer, is the best money the critic will never have to spend, in order to get this type of charge out of the backwater where it should have stayed.

An era has arrived when people are largely judged by the content of their character, and not the color of their skin. Does racism remain? You bet. Whites can be racist, just as well as blacks, asians, hispanics, and so on. We will never eradicate all racism. Bush's trusted Secretarys of State? African American, alonside other races in other cabinet posts. Obama's trusted VP and cabinet officials too cross a spectrum of race, and in both administrations, race was not a factor.

PDN is neither actively nor passively racist. Further, neither are the judges.

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