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Hey Corporate Media, "Looting" Is a Racist Code Word

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marmar Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 10:10 AM
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Hey Corporate Media, "Looting" Is a Racist Code Word
via AlterNet:



Hey Corporate Media, "Looting" Is a Racist Code Word

Posted by Chloe Cockburn, Blog of Rights at 7:45 AM on January 25, 2010.

When the news camera captures footage of a Haitian man taking rice, what does it show? Theft? Survival? What if that man is white?




In the aftermath of the earthquake, there have been numerous reports of dangerous looting in the capital. (See examples here, here, and here). The Washington Post has a video showing people "looting" a shop, as stated in the caption. The items taken appear to be food and supplies. There is no violence on the camera. But the violent connotation of the word remains.

In contrast to international news of looting in Haiti, local reports indicate that in reality, there is not massive violence or unrest. Partners in Health recently stated that "Our team on the ground reaffirms that the reports of violence on the streets of Port-au-Prince have been grossly exaggerated and have become a major obstacle to mounting the response needed to save tens of thousands of lives each day. United Nations officials in Haiti have criticized reporters for sensationalizing the earthquake aftermath, exaggerating looting reports, noting that the situation among civilians was calm. In a New York Times op-ed, Haitian novelist and Port-au-Prince resident Evelyne Trouillot wrote, "Many of us Haitians are offended by the coverage of the earthquake. Once more, a natural disaster serves as an occasion to showcase the impoverishment, to exaggerate the scenes of violence that are common to any catastrophe of this type."

Law professor Guy-Uriel Charles recently wrote a CNN column calling out this practice as a description void of empathy and one that relies on and perpetuates racial stereotypes. This message needs to be repeated. Not only does the looting moniker wrongly disparage and degrade the local people, it also springs from assumptions about black people and their relation to poverty and property. When the news camera captures footage of a Haitian man taking rice, what does it show? Theft? Survival? What if that man is white? In the aftermath of Katrina, a famous juxtaposition of AP images showed that black people "loot," and white people "find." A "looter" is the other, a criminal undeserving of help. This perspective threatens to undermine the relief effort and the future work of rebuilding. Dehumanizing people has consequences.


http://www.alternet.org/blogs/peek/145382/hey_corporate... /


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LynneSin Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 10:13 AM
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1. Black people loot, white people find.......


Those are real photos that came after Katrina hit New Orleans.

It's shameful how racist our media is. The people that write these articles and bylines - they have no idea what it's like to be in a situation where there is absolutely no clue as to when you will receive food & safe drinking water.
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redqueen Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 10:22 AM
Response to Reply #1
3. That sums it up pretty succinctly.
Edited on Mon Jan-25-10 10:22 AM by redqueen
Between crap like that and their shoddy work in general, I have no use for the M$M at all.
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slampoet Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 10:20 AM
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2. Don't you love how the media has been asking at every turn if there is Civil unrest?
And when ever they want to report unrest happening they show that footage of people scrambling for food which the aid agencies can be seen to be giving them.

That isn't looting you lazy MSM HACKS.
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snagglepuss Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 10:49 AM
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4. Haitians were killing other Haitians for looting. I saw an interview with
Haitians who defended killing looters (their words not mine. The girl who was shot for looting some pictures was shot by a Haitian. I think it is appalling they are doing this but its Haitians who are merciless toward people doing what they have to do to survive.
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Ron Green Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 10:59 AM
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5. "Looting" is also what the Wall Street crooks have done for the past several
decades.
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Igel Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 05:41 PM
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6. It's a word that casts an action in a negative light.
The problem is, when it's applied to groups that you're in solidarity with it's taken as a judgment of that group. Not just the individuals.

But when it's applied to groups you don't feel a kindred spirit with, it's neutral. This makes sense, because we're all biased.

When somebody in a group we belong to or feel that we belong to does something wrong, we try to find an excuse to justify the behavior. If we can, then we don't have to condemn it and weaken the group; you don't have to put your group status at risk. We sometimes adopt absurd positions to keep from blaming those "like us" in some way.

When somebody in a group we don't belong to or that we feel emnity towards does something wrong, we actively try not to find any excuse to justify the behavior. To do so might be mistaken as solidarity with that group and put your status at risk. It might also be taken as weakening the group boundaries, since it's fairly easy to define a group in opposition to another, but only if the other group is well defined and viewed pejoratively. We sometimes adopt absurd positions to make sure we can blame those "not like us" in some way.

I look at the looting or non-looting in a straightforward manner. I've heard of instances in which I would not call the actions taken "looting"; I would call it simple theft motivated by personal need or another's need--it's still theft, but forgiveable theft. I've heard of instances that can only be described as looting--taking something that is not needed in order to sell it or hoarde it. What I heard mostly from one side is that only the first instances actually ever occur; from the other side, the second kind dominate, and even the first instances might be called into question. It tells me not so much about Haiti, but quite a bit about polarization and critical thinking in the US.
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Number23 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 06:30 PM
Response to Original message
7. We've been discussing this for a while in the African-American Group here
http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.ph...

The common media refrain is that in disasters, black people "loot" and whites "find."
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