Come on, y'all

The image below is from what can best be described as the "fold" on the South Florida Sun-Sentinel's main page. I generally try to skip past it, as it almost never has stories I'm interested in. But it caught my attention this morning, and it wasn't the cheerleaders or the review of the NKOTB reunion tour that did it.

All the way on the far right--you mean to tell me that there wasn't a single mugshot of a white person you couldn't throw in there?

It would be easy to dismiss this as a small thing, an unconscious thing, but the reality is that these sorts of images reinforce stereotypes, especially harmful ones, and for a newspaper to engage in that sort of thing is irresponsible. The implication is clear, even if it's unintended--black people wind up in mugshots, and white people don't.

I don't want to ascribe any bad intent to the person who chose those photos--I'm not trying to play this like the photo-editor is some white-supremacist out to keep people of color down. I don't think there was any hostile intent at play--but that's irrelevant. Intent doesn't matter. What matters is the action itself, and this action reinforces negative and inaccurate stereotypes about the nature of crime in this nation and of the African-American community as a whole. It's the sort of thing that an editor needs to be more aware of, especially in a place as culturally and ethnically diverse as south Florida.

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