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Mon Mar 12, 2018, 10:36 PM

National Geographic acknowledges past racist coverage

Source: Associated Press

Jesse J. Holland, Associated Press
 Updated 9:16 pm, Monday, March 12, 2018

WASHINGTON (AP) — National Geographic acknowledged on Monday that it covered the world through a racist lens for generations, with its magazine portrayals of bare-breasted women and naive brown-skinned tribesmen as savage, unsophisticated and unintelligent.

"We had to own our story to move beyond it," editor-in-chief Susan Goldberg told The Associated Press in an interview about the yellow-bordered magazine's April issue, which is devoted to race.

National Geographic first published its magazine in 1888. An investigation conducted last fall by University of Virginia photography historian John Edwin Mason showed that until the 1970s, it virtually ignored people of color in the United States who were not domestics or laborers, and it reinforced repeatedly the idea that people of color from foreign lands were "exotics, famously and frequently unclothed, happy hunters, noble savages_every type of cliché."

For example, in a 1916 article about Australia, the caption on a photo of two Aboriginal people read: "South Australian Blackfellows: These savages rank lowest in intelligence of all human beings."

Read more: https://www.chron.com/news/us/article/National-Geographic-acknowledges-past-racist-12747817.php

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Reply National Geographic acknowledges past racist coverage (Original post)
Judi Lynn Mar 2018 OP
dalton99a Mar 2018 #1
vkkv Mar 2018 #2
fountainofyouth Mar 2018 #4
BumRushDaShow Mar 2018 #11
vkkv Mar 2018 #13
BumRushDaShow Mar 2018 #14
LanternWaste Mar 2018 #16
sandensea Mar 2018 #3
dalton99a Mar 2018 #5
Canoe52 Mar 2018 #6
InAbLuEsTaTe Mar 2018 #7
sandensea Mar 2018 #15
earthshine Mar 2018 #8
Kablooie Mar 2018 #9
jcmaine72 Mar 2018 #10
trusty elf Mar 2018 #12
jgmiller Mar 2018 #17

Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Mon Mar 12, 2018, 10:41 PM

1. And their advertisers

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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Mon Mar 12, 2018, 10:54 PM

2. Impressive, but unneccesary..

 


It's just the way the us over them world was back then.

Yes, it's sad.. but Nat Geo really does not need to excuse themselves..

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Response to vkkv (Reply #2)

Mon Mar 12, 2018, 11:06 PM

4. Nat Geo's reckoning can serve as an example

Even if today they are not spreading racist imagery, we should expect and encourage our cultural institutions to be honest about their history and the way they have affected the culture in lasting ways, both positively and negatively.

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Response to vkkv (Reply #2)

Tue Mar 13, 2018, 04:59 AM

11. They most certainly STILL need to "excuse themselves"

Even after the Civil Rights era in the '60s through to almost present, the magazine obsessed over African poverty or African "wildlife". Yet they rarely showed the abject poverty of Europe or the splendor of the large cities of Nigeria.

It was to the point where after over 100 years of that, when one says "Africa" to the average American, the first thing that pops into mind is "safari" and "Africa" gets distilled into a single "country" vs a continent 3 times the size of the U.S. with 50+ countries..

Although mags usually prepare 3 months in advance of final issuance, I wouldn't be surprised that the film "Black Panther" may have had some impact on their finally fessing up.

I haven't gotten the OP article (snail mail) issue yet (I could probably see if the electronic version is available) but it will be interesting to see if they follow through with hiring more diverse photo-journalists and writers.

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Response to BumRushDaShow (Reply #11)

Tue Mar 13, 2018, 10:59 AM

13. I've been a subsriber my entire adult life and grew up with my parents subsription.

 


I clearly remember the more ornate scrolling on the cover edge from decades past and the far thicker paper pages from only 15 years ago or so..

Nat'l Geo did have to balance the wonder of places vs. the poverty or authoritarian politics.. The Geo didn't want to constantly make readers miserable or depressed about the world, right?

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Response to vkkv (Reply #13)

Tue Mar 13, 2018, 12:08 PM

14. Me too

Since the early '60s and my parents kept some of the old classics like the 1969 moon landing issue, etc.

The problem was that whenever POC pointed out the type of stuff that "media" outlets like this or film/tv did when it came to visuals of certain cultures, we were told to suck it up and that was "reality". It piled onto the misery of racism and boosted the idea of white supremacy and what you see today in Drumpf and his supporters. Their "balance" was no balance at all. Europeans were shown in all their unique glory and Africans were show either along with animals or as you heard Drumpf say - in "shithole countries" living in "huts".

And this was despite the fact that the damn photo-journalists flew into a modern airports in modern African cities yet purposely ignored those cities to seek out the most wretched that they could find.

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Response to vkkv (Reply #2)

Tue Mar 13, 2018, 12:24 PM

16. This was not an excuse.

This was not an excuse. This was a rational exercise in a self-examination of the company's past behavior and actions, and without rationalizing those actions, accepting them as having happened.

And, as no one has argued that is was "necessary" as you implied, it seems you are missing their point (realization of their actions to move beyond those actions) by a damnably wide margin.

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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Mon Mar 12, 2018, 10:55 PM

3. It's still there even now, if in a more subtle way.

One sees this in their articles dealing with countries or cities, rather than with naturalist topics.

Over the past 20 years or so, whenever they go to the Developing World, they make a point of highlighting the poverty.

Interwoven in the tales of woe and images of squalor, they'll almost always include remarks and a photo on some upper-crust gathering, giving the reader the idea that in that country, almost everyone lives in absolute poverty, with a tiny minority living like elites.

While this is to some degree true in all Developing countries (some more than others), the fact is that most of the larger ones have sizable middle classes, as well as large working classes who, while not comfortable, are certainly not destitute.

They also sneak in a lot of subtle neo-con memes extolling things privatization. The fact that David Koch is on the board of directors (since around 2000, I think), may have something to do with that.

That said, they're good to acknowledge it.

Thanks for posting these interesting news, Judi.

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Response to sandensea (Reply #3)

Tue Mar 13, 2018, 12:01 AM

5. And now they're part of the Fox media empire

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Response to dalton99a (Reply #5)

Tue Mar 13, 2018, 12:27 AM

6. Ouch, I forgot about that part!

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Response to dalton99a (Reply #5)

Tue Mar 13, 2018, 12:49 AM

7. So not surprised!

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Response to dalton99a (Reply #5)

Tue Mar 13, 2018, 12:10 PM

15. That's right! I had forgotten that. Thanks!

Of course though, the kleptocrats seem to have tired of the Fox media octopus and all its mismanagement and scandals. Sinclair seems to be their mouthpiece of choice now.

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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Tue Mar 13, 2018, 12:55 AM

8. There's an episode of Happy Days where Potsy and Ralph ...

... or maybe it's Richie and Ralph ...

mention the viewing of "nude pygmies" in National Geographic as a guilty pleasure.

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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Tue Mar 13, 2018, 01:44 AM

9. It's sometimes awful looking back at things...

but you can't judge the values of the past by the values of today.
They were what they were and you have to accept that.

There's no way they could have held today's values just like we can't hold the values of 2050 until 2050.

If someone today holds the values of 1916, (as some do), it's valid to criticize them, of course.

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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Tue Mar 13, 2018, 02:32 AM

10. Okay, fine. Now how about making a donation to the UNCF, or NAACP?

Talk is cheap. They can at least devote a larger and fairer percentage of their magazine to celebrating African-American culture and achievements.

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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Tue Mar 13, 2018, 05:02 AM

12. "These savages rank lowest in intelligence of all human beings."

Jesus, that's awful. I am reminded of newsreel footage I saw about the inhabitants of islands in the Pacific near where the US tested atomic bombs . Kids were shown playing in radioactive debris that was falling on them like snow! A tribal chief was brought to the US for tests to determine the degree to which he was exposed to radiation. Footage showed this chief marveling at the medical facilities, while the narrator said "These people are savages by our standards".

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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Tue Mar 13, 2018, 03:42 PM

17. This really is starting to get silly

If NatGeo wants to do a article or a show about how racist sterotypes were perpetuated back then and include themselves that's great but for everyone to beat themselves over and over again for how the world was back then is ridiculous. Should Scandanavian people constantly have to appologize for Vikings raiding Britain 1000 years ago? I'm sure a lot of those Vikings raped a lot of women, that was what the world was like back then, doesn't make it right but it also doesn't mean we need to continue to appologize for it.

There are plenty of real, live racists around these days that we can expose and minimize, we don't need to go back 100 years and take care of them too.

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