What ever happened to those white folks from those old photos?
A few months ago from this day of publishing, I had an interesting discussion with a white guy at work. The subject of riots came up. Pretty much, he attempted to place a mass association of “riots” to Black Lives Matter protesters. Fascinated with his thoughts (which severely lacked critical thinking), I threw him a critical thinking question:
“Do you think that Black Live Matter protesters, command riots?”
I had to repeat the question because he was in total shock, as if he had walked from a train wreck, because he didn’t expect to engage in critical thinking.
He answered no, which was smart; they do not command riots to occur. It’s a bit stupid to suggest such. While he did concede the point that BLM do not command riots, he pointed out that the riot association is strong because that’s all the data the media supplies him (you don’t think that’s without intent?) and still, overall, if the protests were PEACEFUL then change would occur. I pointed out that there’s numerous peaceful protests, they occur all the time. I as a street photographer (and freelance journalist) have been to many, and can literally report on a lot of knowledge. I mentioned one 60 miles from our location that happened months prior. I also mentioned what the media does when they are peaceful protests and vigils — they leave without reporting. Still, he was unmoved, because to him credentialed media > freelance journalism. So okay.
“Peaceful? You mean like Colin Kaepernick?“
Once again I saw this white fellow, robbed of breath, beginning to realize what type of corner he walked himself into. He, a regular white-American male, hates Colin Kaepernick. He really despises Colin Kaepernick. He hates his PEACEFUL protest. It’s really baffling, because he also mentioned MLK which made things even more hilariously awkward.
“Do you think that all whites, or the majority of white people, were behind MLK off of one speech?”
At this point, with the strength of his disdain for Colin Kaepernick and his peaceful protest, I had finalized the convo — I told him that technically, if this were August 1963, he would have been the regular white guy who hated, loathed Martin Luther King. I was compelled to tell the fellow that white people were NOT all on board when Martin Luther King arrived on the scene. I had to tell him that he in his white self, technically, was the status quo, and his feelings of Kaepernick and MLK would be congruent.
“The truth is, you would have been one of the ones completely antagonistic to those protesters back then buddy.”
Being that I linked him (and for the most part, most of White America) to those angry, white supremacy defending whites in all the old Civil Rights photographs, I began wondering, where in the hell did they all go? What ever happened to them?
I began collecting more of these photos. Being a modern day street photographer essentially crating digging older street photographs made me realize that I’m a part of an old, long lasting American tradition — free press. The task made me feel like I’m discovering my roots as a professional. All those photos. All those faces.
The faces were the same faces we see modern day. All those angry, yelling, vulgar white faces. What ever happened to them? When the Civil Rights Act was placed into law, did all these people just vanish? Did they all out of nowhere, realize that they were wrong, and we were right, and stopped their racist thoughts and ideologies?
I highly doubt that the white faces in the first Civil Rights Era just automatically let go of their racist ideologies. Those people only accepted the Civil Rights social change with contempt and learned how to BEHAVE when laws changed. These old racist white supremacists, similar to insurgents after the collapse of the Iraqi Army in 2003, only laid low, kept their racist ideologies, and waited. During this wait, there was a refinement of white supremacy. White supremacy — racism in America — had to adapt, and it did.
While the fellow did not get indignant and rant and rave (probably because he knew facts were on my side), many white men would do just that. While there’s very few white folks today that would boldly state “keep America white” or something, similar to this photo on the left, the facial expression is still the same. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve seen that same face in white men when I speak on white supremacy.
Instead of bluntly proclaiming the defense of white supremacy, white men nowaday seek to finesse the same ideological talking points. Similar to placing an assassin in a dress, these white men seek to soften up the image of white supremacist ideologies.
Being that white supremacists always preferred hoods and masks, nothing really has changed. Instead of preferring white hoods, they now prefer white lies. The white, Ku Klux Klan hood, while still existing in reality, has long been abandoned for a metaphorical one: double-speak, coded language, deflections and transference in discussion. The empty claims of colorblindness while still acknowledging and observing color differences. The tone policing. The clinging relationship to ancient symbolic relics of a racist past, all while denying racism modern day. This blatant dishonesty towards the state of nonwhites in America, serves as a new and improved white hood or mask to shield responsibility and accountability of the State of race relations. The common German is more accountable and observant of their collective crimes against Jews than the white American is towards their crimes against black and native peoples.
This is what happened: When the Civil Rights laws passed, all these racist whites from these photos (and those who were never photographed, which is numbered to be far more) just sat back and never talked about it. They decided then and there to take their sins silently to their graves, all while letting their grandchildren lie or play stupid, pretending it never took place. I did it myself; wondered where my dad was in 1963. 1965. 1970. It’s a shock if white people never thought to think about where their parents were during all of this. Much like racism itself, I’m sure these whites NEVER talked about it. Never brought it up. I said it before… while we as black people are trying to discover our ancestors, white people are stuck trying to forget and bury their klancestors. Sure, there are a few white folks from this old era, telling their racist stories on their death beds. Trying to make amends, looking for that forgiveness bug that makes the black community so (in)famous.
For the most part, the majority went to hell hating people because of their skin color, which will be the same destination for modern day whites who share the same congruent disdain for a mass of people fighting for their humanity. As far as these old photos go, nothing has changed. Tomi Lahren, for example, practically gets paid to be the yelling angry white lady in the article’s face photograph. White people will continue to attempt to silence abolitionists like myself. Unfortunately for them, I’m not going anywhere.