Art & Culture | Let’s Talk About Racial Stereotypes

Posted on Posted in American, Culture, Life, Photography

We came across these stunning photographs on Oprah Winfrey’s website. (Yes, that Oprah.) They really got us thinking about racial stereotypes 种族偏见 zhǒng zú piān jiàn around the world.

Not to mention, our Culture Class on Italy last weekend revealed some interesting stereotypes about Italians as well.

Famed photographer, Chris Buck, released this photo series titled “Let’s Talk About Race” and apparently made a lot of people uncomfortable.

The brief yet vibrant shots feature three USA-centric scenes that seem to flip the script on racial power dynamics and representation in our world today. How do they make you feel?

One photo is of a white female child standing

 in front of an aisle full of only black dolls:

One might never think a simple trip to the toy store has anything to do with race, but alas, representation matters even when it comes to the dolls little girls get to play with.

In this photo, the child’s feelings about not having a doll that represents her aren’t reflected, but the lack of access in the moment is obvious.

Another photo depicts a group of Asian women

getting pedicures from white women:

Yes or no? Nail salons are most often operated by women of Asian decent. Some work under harsh conditions, including low pay and harsh chemicals in their work supplies.

The photo switches the expected nail salon scene, placing the Asian women in the seat of the relaxed and pampered.

The third photo shows a Latina woman getting

 a beverage poured into her cup by a white maid:

Like the photo before it, this shot switches the economic power dynamics, placing a Latina woman in a position of affluence with signifiers like her clothing, cell phone, home décor and even her dog.

Women of color are also often depicted as domestic workers in television and film.

There’s The Help starring Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer (2011). Maid In Manhattan stars Latina actress Jennifer Lopez (2002). Then there are characters like “Florence Johnston” from the ’70s and ’80s show,The Jeffersons, and “Mammy” played by Hattie McDaniel in the 1939 classic, Gone With The Wind.

Photos like this turn the tables around and for some, might even inspire questions about why certain labor roles are dominated by women of color.

The photographer had this to say about his work:

“I recognize it’s a real responsibility as a white photographer to make images very carefully and do so in a way that is thoughtful and respectful. I am not of color. It wasn’t something that I was uncomfortable with at all. I feel as a prominent photographer in this country, it’s important for me to address these topics.

I was actually surprised when I moved here how little talk of race there was. It’s been happening for a long time. Who are we kidding? My grandchildren will be talking about this still.

I do think it’s important for people to express how they feel about these images. Some people are more upset about 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.”

Now what do you have to say about them?

Actually, these reminded us of a photo series from a few years ago where French photographer Benoit Cezard reversed the roles of foreigners in China, stating this is what China might look like in 2050… Remember these?

It could happen…

Admit it, we’ve all wanted to try this one…

‘Shuai ge’ might actually do well at marketing…

She’s not bothering anyone!

Have you mastered The Squat yet?

How do these photos make you feel? Discuss in the comments below…

Any racial stereotypes from your country?

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