Author: Cameron Rustay

Racial Tension: Beyond the Surface

In my earlier blog post, The Boundary Between Light and Darkness, I commented on the light-dark interplay that Steve Prince’s “Katrina’s Veil: Stand at the Gretna Bridge” and Francisco Goya’s “Third of May 1808” utilize. Namely, in Prince’s piece, I saw the use of only black and white as a commentary on the racial tension present in America, namely New Orleans. The white and black simultaneously blend and separate figures in the print, showing how there was tension between citizens of the same city before, but particularly after, Katrina. Beth commented on this post, mentioning that there might be merit in looking at how surface tension connects with racial tension. After digging up my prior experience in general chemistry and looking at the definition of surface tension, the connection between the two terms was as clear as water.

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Ostracized and Undervalued

Roach in our class reading of “Echoes in the Bones” discussed how performers are thrown into the roles of effigies, often becoming “alternatively ostracized and overvalued.” After bringing up celebrity names such as Kim Kardashian, Angelina Jolie, Tom Hanks, etc., I started thinking about public figures that throw themselves into the roles of effigies and how this differs from what Roach brings up. The first example of this that came into my mind was Beyoncé and her Super Bowl 50 performance.

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The Boundary Between Light and Darkness

One important aspect I found when reading Solnit and Snedeker’s Unfathomable City was the apparent racial tension in the city after Katrina. There was an obvious boundary that law enforcement, government officials, and the media put between African American citizens and white citizens resulting in murder, hysteria, and moral ambiguity in a time when altruism was as valuable as currency. This boundary produced armed stand-offs between police and African Americans, botched autopsies, and the outright murder of African Americans who were only trying to help their families, such as Donnell Herrington.

After discussing Steve Prince’s “Katrina’s Veil: Stand at the Gretna Bridge” and Francisco Goya’s “Third of May 1808” in class, the boundary between light and dark, black and white, again, stood out to me.

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