A Photo Essay Trying To Convey Empathy Reveals The Deep Division Of America On Racial Topics • MetDaan

A Photo Essay Trying To Convey Empathy Reveals The Deep Division Of America On Racial Topics


The May 2017 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine has turned the tables on numerous racial stereotypes present in the United States with a unique photographic essay called “Let’s Talk About Race”.

The series of photos by New York-based award-winning photographer Chris Buck are thought-provoking, intelligent, and, as many projects in his career, controversial. The Toronto-born artist, whose snaps were part of a campaign that won the Grand Prix at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity in 2010, has made headlines in the past with controversial portraits of presidential candidates Michele Bachmann and Donald Trump.

According to the author, the idea of the essay was to have “an honest, compassionate conversation… in which people feel heard and we all learn something — especially how we can all do better and move forward.” Nonetheless, the images have had a mixed response and have been understood in lots of different ways, perhaps once again proving that America still hasn’t reached a consensus about its past.

Dolls that don’t look like me

She’s white, and all the dolls are black — the photograph is thought to represent the feeling of being invisible and unrepresented.


Source: Twitter | @TalalNAnsari

White maid, Latina boss

In this one, the white maid who is serving is being completely ignored by her Latina employer. It seems like even the dog can’t be bothered to pay attention to the housekeeper.


Source: Twitter | @TalalNAnsari

The tables have turned

Another role-reversal photo shows a group of Asian women being pampered with pedicures by white employees at a nail salon. The picture provides a different take in a cliche often seen in television shows and movies where nail salons are almost exclusively run by Asian women, while the customers almost always appear to be rich and white.


Source:Twitter | @TalalNAnsari

Buck spoke about the delicate nature of the assignment, but also of its importance, believing ignoring the topic only because it’s a tricky one would be a form of conformity.

“As a photographer in the U.S., for me to not be engaged in these issues would be a blind spot,” he told Mic. “It’s important for me to be involved in stories like this, and help them become more nuanced and interesting. This is my job.”


Source: Facebook | O, The Oprah Magazine

The reactions to the photographic essay on social media range from delight…


Source: Twitter | @manjusrii

…through interpretation as reverse racism…



Source: Twitter | @PatrickAnna

…to complete denial about the multi-layered nature of the message conveyed


Source: Twitter | @jaeralde

“I do think it’s important for people to express how they feel about these images,” Buck told Elite Daily. “Some people are more upset by the photos and that’s fine. I get that it’s uncomfortable for people of color and for white folks. And that’s fine but the conversation still needs to happen.”


Source: Twitter | @lezdykawits

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