A valued reader recently sent me this photo. I'd seen it before, but I can't remember where. Nor do I know the story behind it.
Does anyone here know about it?
That's one of those thousand-word pictures, isn't it? Words of my own can never do it justice. Actually, "poetic justice" are two words that do seem to fit, until I look more closely, and see that the black hospital staff are trying to save this Klansman, rather than hasten his demise.
The title of this blog post suggests what I see evoked by that image, and also by the one below, which was left on a wall by the British artist, Banksy. Both of these images look to me like fragments from a fevered white dream. Or maybe, from some Surrealist's effort to represent the depths of the collective white American psyche.
I don't think it's just the KKK and their ilk that have that fear -- a fear that some day, the white race will get its just deserts. I also don't think all that many white individuals are walking around with that fear, at least consciously. I do think, though, that a more collective white racial fear of that sort exists, however it is that things like that work.
But that's just what comes to mind for me when I ponder these images. I'm sure that if they represent anything to other viewers, they represent differently, depending on the person.
Banksy left this artwork on the wall of a gas station, just outside of Birmingham, Alabama. The image on the left is his; the image on the right is what was left of it, after some locals took offense.
I imagine that the people who spray-painted over Banksy's art were white, but I can't be sure of that.
I wonder what they felt when they saw it? What drove them to blacken it so thoroughly?
Apparently, some locals actually did like Banksy's image. The African American man who owns the gas station that Banksy chose, for instance.
What are some of the thousand words evoked for you by either or both of these images?
And/or, if you'd like to address it -- do you think there's such a thing as a collective white psyche (or consciousness, or unconscious)?
If so, what do you suppose is in there?
Update: As several readers pointed out, the first image is from an old ad campaign: http://www.snopes.com/photos/medical/klaner.asp.