Disclaimers and definitions on racial stereotypes by Jacob Holdt 


On using the term "black" 

Since these homepages focus on racial oppression the term "black" is being used (as opposed to "white") rather than the ethnic term "African-American" as parallel to "Italian-American", "Irish-American" etc. 

On using so-called "negative" pictures


Since American Pictures try to convey the devastating results of oppression, the pictures I use portray primarily the people most visibly defeated and crushed by oppression! (I also take many photos of "black culture," but only use them in a few cultural or religious sections of the show since it's subject matter is not "black culture", "human life in general", or a "demographic description of America" etc.) 

In all oppressions there is a victim. Some societies bring up their children to see the existence of such victims as "society's fault" (so society much constantly change!) - and thus view the people in my pictures with a sense of solidarity. 

Black stereotype ....or an apathy caused by our racism?

However, the Internet also reaches into very racist societies, where people are brought up to unconsciously put the blame on the victims themselves. Concerned people in those societies will generally try to avoid the use of such pictures for fear that they will cause negative stereotyping. Instead they will focus on what they call "positive images" - that is to say - images of those who "succeeded" in spite of oppression. 

I believe that (in an educational context) it is important to use pictures that can help enlighten us about our responsibilities towards the "least of our brethren" through a deeper insight, understanding and subsequent change of the oppressive sides of our own behavior. 

The opposite - for all its good intentions - ends up as just another "sweeping under the carpet" - the type of evasive guilt-ridden racism which silently forced millions of people into rejection, ghettos and eventual despair and anger. 

Victim and perpetrators of institutionalized racism face to face

Besides, in a society such as the U.S. where negative thinking about blacks now runs so deep that pretty much no taxi driver will pick up a black man at night, it is pretty safe to say that you can't possibly reinforce people's negative thinking. Fear is running so deep in white Americans now, I sense, that no amount of Bill Cossby-type "positive" shows on prime time TV will do the slightest to decrease the negative thinking and fear generated by un-ending reports of black men in handcuffs on the evening news. 

Only personal social interaction with blacks will. Or a more honest form of education about the oppressive social forces which daily mould and create people who actually look and behave like "negative stereotypes." 
Therefore American Pictures tries to explain and honestly portray - rather than avoid - such widely held stereotypes as "black apathy (in the U.S.)", "black anger" and other obvious results of  long term oppression. 

Racial stereotyping ....or honest portrayal of oppression

More disclaimers to follow....

If you have other questions concerning issues brought up by American Pictures or these home pages please
send an e-mail to Jacob Holdt, who will try to answer them here. 




Other pages under "Racism" menu

Frequent questions on oppression     

Insights on oppression   

Disclaimers and definitions on racism      

Text from Jacob Holdt's racism workshop

Links to racism resources




 This page in Danish

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