The panels I chose depicts the march for “Operation Open City” that calls for fair employment. The reason I chose this panel is because it offers a different perspective of the story. Instead of the opposition between the black and white, this time there is conflict within the white population. If the white and black communities were incommensurable in the beginning, if the situation was truly of “ballot or bullet,” one or the other, the sense of understanding that is achieving here through the peaceful marches are revolutionary.
The frames in which a white supporter got sprayed with black paint particularly caught my eyes. The body, or the skin color marks a sign of difference, or epidermalization of inferiority. This is a process of alienation and dehumanization, because such harassment takes away the body of the men and only left the skin behind. It was also worth pondering how on this page, only the last two panels have black background that matches the color of the spray. The contrast between the dark skin and background and the color of the eyes gives me a sense of anger, but also firmness, which matches the words in the bottom “I deeply believe that our discipline paved the road to our success,” as if the belief is so deep and firm that it is not necessary to put it under the spotlight. The man’s reply is also a seemingly subtle, “thank you.” For me, it is precisely this subtle reply that is so strong a silent and peaceful protest that the thugs would have nothing to reply, and that is power. Instead of “dramatizing the situation” like the non-violent protest lead by Gandhi, I felt like this reply takes away the drama, but put forward the toughness, tenacity and power that forces the whites to stop their thoughtlessness.
Wells and Terrell are both black female activists in movements for equality, championed racial equality and women’s suffrage. Both authors are born with a close connection to slavery (Terrell was the daughter of a former slave while Wells was born into slavery and became politically active after war). Terrell later joined Wells in her anti-lynching campaign, after both authors lost one of their friends due to lynching.
In the reading material “What It Means to be Colored in the Capital of the United States,” Terrell condemned the discriminations towards African Americans in the society that is penetrated by Jim Crow laws. Having received high education (graduated with Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Oberlin college), she knew the importance of education but saw the helplessness and the hopelessness facing the insurmountable obstacles that prevents people of color to pursue what they deserve. The obstacles lead to the “lack of incentive to effort.”
For Ida B Wells, she found it ironic that the people were blinded from the questions, raised from morally-corrupted lynching, that vilify the country, and its people, as a whole. First, the economic cost paid in indemnities for lynching mounted to a half million dollars. Second, the Anglo-Saxon civilization, who knew the teachings of Christianity, had fallen to the point where it is incapable of protecting its women. The third point, which can find resonance in Terrell’s speech as well, is the huge “chasm between the principles upon which this Government was founded, in which it still professes to believe,” and the actual daily practice carried out “under the protection of this flag.” It is ironic, that the country had been active in claiming to right the wrongs but in reality was perpetuating the wrongs.
Both Sontag and Gourevitch approached human tragic from the perspective of people born with the privilege of witnessing such tragic as a bystander. They both talked about how people with such privilege are not in direct relationship to those who suffer. They don’t necessarily care about them. The commercial value, the benefits they could profit from such crises matter more. Sontag mentioned the idea of “self-censorship” in media, which describes how government authorities actively look away from the suffering for the political and social benefit of that “victorious” power. And this “self-censorship” isn’t only evident in media: one example is the fact that “Washington didn’t want to act. So Washington pretended that it wasn’t genocide.” The international community is actively looking away, knowing what is happening, but at the same time doesn’t want to face the moral challenges it poses in front of us. Another idea mentioned in Sontag is the identification between camera and gun, between “shooting” a subject and shooting a human being. “The scale of war’s murderousness destroys what identifies people as individuals, even as human beings.” This bring to my mind the institutional identity mentioned in Prof. Tamura’s lecture. The distance offered to the viewer by the photograph, as well as the distance that international community feel about the issue of Rwanda, under such a huge picture, allows each small individual to be reduced to their institutional identity. Another connection that can be made is that both authors looked at these issues with a perspective similar to that of Hannah Arendt before Eichmann’s trial. Both authors believed that these killers were evil in nature. “It’s easier to think of the enemy as just a savage who kills”, who is monstrous in nature. This is also evident in that the Rwanda catastrophe is widely understood merely as “a natural disaster”.