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Troy

Survey Results: Is This Photo of Viola Davis Subtly Racist?

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news-viola-davis.jpgHere are the results so far.  The survey was prompted by a question posed in the conversation What's Wrong With This Picture? I’d encourage everyone to check out this conversation.  During the conversation, you'll learn if the makeup artist was Black.  You definitely read a wide variety of opinions; some of the comments may change the way you feel about this photo or they may strengthen your opinion.  Here are the results so far:

  • None of the non-Black respondents did saw the photo as racist and all of them agreed the photo was flattering. 
  • The responses from the Black Males were split.  Half agreed the photo was racist and half felt it was the photo was flattering
  • 10% of respondents were Black men, 10% were not Black (evenly split between male and female). 80% of the respondents were Black women

The following are Responses from Just Black Women 80% of All Respondents

racist.png

flattering.png

  • Photo Racist and Not Flattering: 37%
  • Photo Racist and Flattering: 3%
  • Photo Not Racist and Not Flattering: 34%
  • Photo Not Racist and Flattering:    26%

These are the Comments from the survey respondents (comments were optional):

“Why is a picture of a black woman wearing red lipstick, smiling broadly about something that made her bring her hands to her face so offensive?  Subjective reactions to it are more about how white people will view the picture rather than how black people would.  Many black women look this way and a broad smile is not something any woman should have to be judged for.  I'd be interested in hearing  Viola's comments about this candid shot.
I'm actually American and of African Ascent :P

“It is certainly not flattering, but not racist”

“If black folk find this in any way racist, I will be edified.”

“Viola Davis is such a beautiful black women. I had always admired her ""Blackness"" and darkness. It seems that they used the worst picture of her to make a mockery for Black women. Bottom line is that I think it was intentional to make her look like an animal. Blessings to Viola...”

“God have mercy on (them) whoever!”

“Ms Davis is a beautiful Black woman  - end of story!”

“For years the publication Time has been subtly racist.  In my younger years I subscribed to this magazine, but after noting how snide and subtly derisive this publication can be when the subject of an article is black, I wrote them an angry letter and dropped my subscription.  I see from this picture, where they seemed to wait until they found the most unflattering posture and snapped the picture, they haven't changed at all.  Regards, Pat”

“I don't understand the question.  Is this a picture of Viola in a role, or is it just a picture. She has many different looks, she wears her hair in many different styles, so in what context is the question being asked.????”

“I never thought of the picture as racist until this survey. My first reaction to it when I first saw it was to just think it was not a good picture, period. The colors don't mix at all. It's too many colors, actually, for something so serious and a woman of her stature. She's not a pop star, but a great and studious actress. I kind of feel like I know what they were going for- joy and all that- but they missed the mark. I am also tired of them making Viola into some charity case who is ecstatic she survived abject poverty and childhood trauma. I get that, that's great and all. But, we are just proud of her as a beautiful artist and woman who is a joy to watch in all her diverse roles like a Meryl Streep or Kate Winslet. We're not framing her in her past.”

“I am sure this wasn't her best photo of the evening. It definitely brings to mind the old red lipped big teeth grinning Negro. Not to be ashamed of showing a toothy smile or wearing red lipstick...but she's only a hair away from wearing a bandana and apron here. She's beautiful, this doesn't really look like Viola Davis!”

“I am curious what is racist about it? I think she looks beautiful. However it does look like a lot of photoshop.”

“It show how ridicules we look we try to adopt white culture.   Hair makeup etc.”

“An expert professional photographer could have gotten a better photo of Viola Davis; the photo is not flattering at all.”

“This is a photo of Ms. Davis. I feel it may not be the most flattering of photos, but I don't see anything racist about an actual photo. She is smiling and posing.”

“Somehow, when profiling women who are not of color, they seem to be photographed in a more appealing profile.”

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Troy

Do you feel a bit vindicated.....like I do....that the largest segment feels the same way we do?


I have to admit that I'm a bit suprised that so many Black women in the survey felt this way.
Most of those I know in real life actually felt about the photo the same way Cynique and Mel felt.
When I brought it up many became a bit defiant and took the position of how could I as a man tell a sista what type of make-up she should wear.

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Well, you guys were still off the mark when it came to your assessment of white reaction.  Are you implying that because whites didn't think the picture was racist, that they are racist? Just because the respondents agreed with your racial paranoia doesn't vindicate you, it just makes you all ashamed of black women.   :P:D

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No, I don't feel vindicated. All I was interested in doing was helping people see another perspective.  They may disagree with, or not understand, the perspective, but they are no longer ignorant of it. Thinking, opening minded, people can't unsee what they have been shown, their awareness has been raised.  

It is really all I'm trying to do with the website, helping people to see that Black people are much more than the stereotypical memes and entertainers.  

Speaking of entertainers I bet the majority of Black people Time felt were "most influential" are Black people who entertain them.  I have not looked at the entire list because I refuse to let Time determine, for me, who is important and I not inclined to do the research to make a point... but if someone else does it I'd definitely look t the results.

As one of the commenters wrote, “I never thought of the picture as racist until this survey,” if you (@Pioneer1) had not posed the question I probably would not have even seen the photo much less thought about.  But once I thought about it for more than 5 seconds, it seemed pretty obvious what it represented

Now I'm not saying Time has an agenda, but Time operates in a White male dominated environment.  Time Magazine's aesthetic reflects this and this does not optimally service Black people--but what else is new, welcome to America. @Cynique , do you see the distinction here?

No one is ashamed of Black women. That would make us ashamed of ourselves  The shame belongs to our racist culture...

 

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9 minutes ago, Troy said:

As one of the commenters wrote, “I never thought of the picture as racist until this survey,” if you (@Pioneer1) had not posed the question I probably would not have even seen the photo much less thought about.  But once I thought about it for more than 5 seconds, it seemed pretty obvious what it represented

Well, that's what i meant by the power of suggestion.  If it had been a black man hanging from a tree, the angry reaction would've been an immediate knee jerk reaction.  But the reaction to a picture of a black woman grinning broadly is initially indifferent until someone injects racism into the mix. (Black folks can find racism in anything if they just want to.)    I continue to wonder what Viola's thoughts are on this matter.

i like to think of the picture as more like an ink blot test, which is what you also compared it to. 

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Cynique, surveys are tough to execute without bias.  I'm also not suggesting that this is a scientific study. In fact, I removed the Time Magazine cover because I actually believed if the image was presented in the full context people would have found it MORE racist.  

But again if you can't see an iota of racism, then there is nothing I can say to convince you. There is no data that I can present to change your opinion. But as you can see from my unscientific survey Black people are largely split on the issue, some dramatically so.

You may recall I too described the picture as a Rorschach test. I also wrote that I suspected those suggested to more racism would be more likely to see the photo as racist. So I'm not surprised every nonBlack person would find the photo both flattering and not racist.

I will tell you this much; in America, it is not uncommon for a racist to not recognize their racism, and it is not unusual for the victim to fail to see it when it is staring them in the face. This has come from centuries of institutionalized racism and the marginalization of a people.

...and yes, in America, you CAN find racism in virtually anything, but it is not because we want to. It is simply part and parcel of our culture. From our Whitehouse to our to our local school boards; From our currency to our history books.

@CyniqueaAsk yourself why is it that you refuse to call 45 your president?  What conditions thrust him into power--racism was part of it. I could go on and on, but you know the deal.  

 

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@TroyWell, this is a direct quote of what i wrote:  "i like to think of the picture as more like an ink blot test, which is what you also compared it to." - so your props were given.   And you don't have to convince me that this country is racist! I agree with everything you say in regard to this issue.

My whole problem with this discussion was that it was critical of a black woman by black men who think she should present herself in accordance with their standards.  As it turns out, Viola, herself, apparently had no problem with what was an artistic concept, aided and abetted by a black make-up artist.  

The whole controversy is on the verge of degenerating into a case of much ado about nothing. Everybody knows that the white media is either clueless or cunning when it comes to depicting black people, and that racism is insidious. The jury is still out when it come to dark-complexioned black women wearing red lipstick. 

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The photo is flattering pie chart adds up to 101% of 80 percent of women reporting  ...  w/ 29% of women agreeing the photo is flattering (varying degrees)  Here the majority disagrees (72 %)

The photo is subtlety racist pie chart adds up to 100% of 80 percent of women reporting... w/ 40% agreeing the photo is racist (varying degrees)   Here the majority disagrees (60%)

So while women may not like Ms. Davis look in this photo they don't think it's racist.   Whatever. 



My question is what did you, @Troy ,hope would happen? The majority opinion would win, those with the dissenting opinion  would then agree the photo was racist? and then what? :rolleyes:  

For the record, my opinion remains unchanged. 

 

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OK then we are on the same page.  

But I never wrote anything denigrating Viola. Can you find one thing I wrote where I diminish the person, Viola Davis?  I see her as the victim and I explained why it is possible she may not see herself as a victim.

The 5th grader attending a substandard school, living in a substandard neighborhood won't his current condition is a function of racism. His lack of knowledge of that fact does not make it any less true...

Of course in a time when the planet may soon be rendered uninhabitable Viola's picture is of no consequence.  But I did find the discussion very revealing about relative perceptions.  

I suspect part of the reason Black folks find it difficult to make the changes you suggested we have not made is because we can't agree on what the problems actually are.

For example, there are many Black folks who would even disagree that racism exists at all--even if they concede that it does exist, it does not matter because if you work hard you can make it in America. Then there are people so crippled by the white man they do nothing but languish in some ghetto or jail cell. And of course, we have everything in between.

 

The total is a rounding error @Mel Hopkins .  Again I wrote what I hoped would happen.

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Th

24 minutes ago, Troy said:

Rounding error in favor of... the majority?  

Ok. We didn't learn much more  - between the five of us we came up with the nearly the same results. 

I think Cynique and I agreed it wasn't racist but  we differed on how flattering the pic was.  white folks chiming in provided another voice - but I didn't think we'd get a consensus .  

"Racism" is a social construct and unless it denies someone of rights, it becomes nuanced and has to be added to other acts to feel its effect.   

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@Mel Hopkins  i am amused by your calling racism a "social construct", which figures in to my arguments with Troy, to wit: if race is a social construct than how can you have racism?  :D 

 

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Cynique


Are you implying that because whites didn't think the picture was racist, that they are racist?

I'm not.
There's any number of reasons they didn't find it racist in the survey:

1. First and foremost, they COULD BE LYING....and know it's racist but choose not to admit it.
It's not unusual for Whites do deny the racism they observe or practice you know.

2. They could not be racist but just feel there's nothing wrong with the picture feeling in their own mind this is how a Black woman SHOULD look or WANTS to look.




My whole problem with this discussion was that it was critical of a black woman by black men who think she should present herself in accordance with their standards.

See....and THAT'S the problem.

You're so caught up in checking Black men and not letting US get away with insulting another "sista" that you failed to see the insult and slight WHITE MEN who photographed her or did her make-up MAY have commited against her.

Even as you admit how insidious and subtle racism can be, you STILL refuse to believe that the White people of time may have purposely taken an unflattering picture of a Black woman in order to ridicule her!

Too often Black women are so caught up in trading licks with Black men and making sure WE don't get away with anything they totally ignore the wrongs of White men and women in their immediate environment.

 



Troy

No, I don't feel vindicated. All I was interested in doing was helping people see another perspective. They may disagree with, or not understand, the perspective, but they are no longer ignorant of it. Thinking, opening minded, people can't unsee what they have been shown, their awareness has been raised.

I think it worked and now people will probably be more perceptive for more subtle forms of discrimination and insult as a result of this.
That can only be a GOOD thing.

But this just goes to show you how naive and unperceptive so many of our people are in the first place.
For too many, they just go through life with their guards constantly down noticing nothing.
Once it's pointed out to them THEN they see a pattern.

I'm willing to bet that if you were to do a survey on whether or not Gangster Rap was promoted to demean and demonize Black men you'd yield suprisingly similar results with a large portion of our people denying it and feeling it's just an innocent form of expression totally uninfluenced by subtle racist manipulation.





and yes, in America, you CAN find racism in virtually anything, but it is not because we want to. It is simply part and parcel of our culture. From our Whitehouse to our to our local school boards; From our currency to our history books.

Standing ovation!

They say if you go around looking for problems you'll find them.
But that means the problems already existed anyway just waiting to grow until they eventually too big to be ignored.

Just like an inspector looks for unsanitary practices and check them early on to maintain the health of the community, perhaps we may be better off if we actually DID go around looking for racism in everything first before we give it the "all clear" sign.

People tend to complain that Black folks are always crying racism anyway, so why disappoint them....lol.




Mel


So while women may not like Ms. Davis look in this photo they don't think it's racist. Whatever.

Well wait a minute...
Don't forget about the 40% who DO think it's racist!

40% is a substantial number.
Trump is in office right NOW with less than 40% of the eligible voters actually voting for him.....so don't discount 40%.



"Racism" is a social construct and unless it denies someone of rights, it becomes nuanced and has to be added to other acts to feel its effect.

Racism is more than just a social construct.
It's a RELIGION.
It's a PSYCHOLOGICAL STATE with a huge influence on the laws, economics, and other important affairs in this society.

 

You know, that is a good point!!

KNOW it????
Why, if it were a GOOD point she wouldn't even RECOGNIZE it......lol.

 

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@Pioneer1 I'm tired of arguing about this subject:  TIME magazine did not take the picture of Viola. A free lance photographer hired by Time did  and it gave him free rein. We have later learned that this photographer and Viola consulted and came to an agreement about the art concept he wanted the picture to illustrate and her make up was part of this concept.  The artist may very well be racist but that doesn't let you off the hook for ridiculing and criticizing black women who don't adhere to your standards.

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All

Let me show you how INTUITION and PERCEPTION works in detecting racism in ways you'd never imagine.

When I lived in Atlanta I had a White friend and co-worker from Arizona who had severe marriage problems.
His wife abused drugs and according to him cheated on him frequently and openly. 
According to him she wasn't raised rich but was very spoiled and thought the world revolved around her and she was also immature.
They separated and even after all of that HE continued to pay the rent for her apartment, her car note, and even bought her gifts for holidays!

When we'd question why he was so devoted and gave her so much money, he constantly played the religious card about him being a family man who upheld his duties and loving his wife and hoping she'd get better.....ect.

Now I saw her a couple times because she'd come up to the job looking crazy.
She wasn't a bad looking woman and had a very curvy body.
Because of this, I suspected....deep down....that he was paying all of her bills and keeping her up and off the street, NOT so much because he actually loved her but more to make sure a Black man with money didn't approach her and either pimp her (she was a drug addict) or just try to get with her.

A few other Black men at work kind of said the same thing, but we didn't mention it to him out of respect.

Months of this went by, of him complaining about the behavior of this woman and how crazier and crazier she was getting despite the fact that he was still taking care of her.
Then one day while he was complaining......a slip!

He said,
"I don't want her out there on the streets man.
She's my wife and you know.
This is the ATL and.....she's a WHITE GIRL....so somebody may try to approach her ya know"


So he finally revealed the truth!

This is Atlanta (a Black city) and she's a WHITE GIRL!

That's why he's spending nearly all of his check supporting her and her drug problem rather than risk her ending up on the street.
Because it's a Black city and she's a "White girl".
And by inference meaning she may end up with a Black person!

I knew all the time that this was the REAL reason he did what he did and some other brothers knew it too.

But HOW did I know this?
He didn't say it until 7 or 8 months later!
So how did I know that was his REAL reason??????

INTUITION !

BEING PERCEPTIVE !

Just KNOWING racism and how it operates and makes people do what they do!

You get to know people's REAL intentions regardless of what they CLAIM or SAY.


But if you go around with your head up your ass never recognizing or suspecting racism ofcourse you'll never notice it.  When you keep your antenna up and learn to read between the lines you can spot it lightyears ahead even when seemingly no signs are apparent.

And this is just one of THOUSANDS of examples of race based behavior that you almost have to figure out INTUTITIVELY until more evidence reveals itself.

But like I said earlier.....
Those of our women who are so IN LOVE with that White Jesus (White male prototype) they won't notice this!
Because they aren't looking!
They are too busy looking at the BLACK MAN as their enemy.
So all of the racism done subtly and even some done openly by White men goes right past them.

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The language you used may have signaled or alerted people. Which is why surveys generally have neutral language. The other issue is that we have been discussing the topic and it may have influenced te respondents.

 

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12 hours ago, Pioneer1 said:

Well wait a minute...
Don't forget about the 40% who DO think it's racist!

40% is a substantial number.
Trump is in office right NOW with less than 40% of the eligible voters actually voting for him.....so don't discount 40%.

The only time I don't discount large  percentages or numbers is when I'm selling something, looking at the scale, my debt ratio, bank account or when people are taking action.  

The rest of the time opinions are irrelevant.. I find people are woefully ignorant in large numbers - and agreement makes people unbelievably lazy.  

By the way, while it's true that less than 40 percent of ELIGIBLE voters went for trump ... He WON with than 45 percent of people who cast a ballot .  

You proved my point - paying attention to a percentage of  number of people who are inactive is a waste of time.

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Everybody Lies by Seth Stephens-Davidowitz.png...plus people lie on surveys giving responses to make themselves look good.  Then there is the troll factor...

We can poke holes in my little survey all day long.  In case it was not obvious, I even said the survey was not scientific.  

Speaking of surveys and racism, I just about finished a book that I would recommend, Everybody Lies: Big Data, New Data, and What the Internet Can Tell Us About Who We Really Are by Seth Stephens-Davidowitz,

It is really a fascinating study of big data.  It attempts to explains why surveys and Facebook posts are flawed ways of understanding people and why our Google searches are much more revealing of our true selves.  

Google search, for example, indicate that child abuse, abortions, and even racism is much more prevalent than what the governmental data reports.

 

 

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1 hour ago, Troy said:

We can poke holes in my little survey all day long.

@Troy Actually, I liked your little survey.  

I'm like my twin - I have an appreciation for numbers, data and stats.  

Further It was fascinating that the larger surveyed mirrored our sample... 

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“The 5th grader attending a substandard school, living in a substandard neighborhood won't his current condition is a function of racism. His lack of knowledge of that fact does not make it any less true...”

A black kid attending a substandard school in a substandard neighborhood is a function of racism? Oh really? And just how do you know this to be a ubiquitous axiomatic truth? Where is the racism? Instead of the child being a victim of racism, perhaps he/she may be a victim of the celebrated American Negro single parent-"baby mama culture". Instead of his mother having numerous out of wedlock children, not having a long-term life vision and preparing herself for the future through acquiring an education, demanding marriage before having children and not repeating the same mistake twice, the trappings of her children would be different. Perhaps he/she is a victim of the "baby daddy" culture where Negro males have multiple children with multiple women, failing to provide financial support for the numerous children he is responsible for. Maybe the aforementioned behavior is responsible for the conditions you lamented. Perhaps the baby daddy has never taken it upon himself to acquire an education or training for a secure financial future. Perhaps his voluntary absence from his children, refusal to marry the mother of his children and his lack of providing a strong male image for emulation for his son (and daughters) may contribute to problems.

The bottom line is this -racism has nothing to do with the toxic American Negro baby daddy-baby mama subculture. A subculture that is steadfastly maintained by self-imposed ignorance, poor personal self-decision making, lack of accountability, responsibility, direction, and self-sacrifice. Where is the collective demand and relentless participation of active parental involvement with teachers and education officials in these so-called underachieving urban schools?  And when you add to the mix a toxic culture of victimization, entitlement and the politics of historical grievance, it makes a potent cocktail for creating substandard schools and neighborhoods. A well-documented history proves this on so many levels. There is no debate. 

Well, you guys were still off the mark when it came to your assessment of white reaction.  Are you implying that because whites didn't think the picture was racist, that they are racist? Just because the respondents agreed with your racial paranoia doesn't vindicate you, it just makes you all ashamed of black women

Thank you! I was thinking along the same line. It never ceases to amaze me how intransigent Negroes see conspiracies and nefarious racist acts when confronted with images or information that makes them feel uncomfortable. When I initially saw this particular picture of Viola Davis, I must admit it did strike my attention. But not for the same reasons as the disgruntled so-called race-conscious Negroes. It was the color tones (lipstick, clothes, the color of the wig and the fact that she was wearing a wig) that struck me. Did it offend me? No! Was it racist? Hell no! Did I think it was an unflattering image of Ms. Davis? Not really. It was what it was –a picture of a beaming and excited woman who has an infectious smile. WHERE IS THE RACISM????

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8 hours ago, Mel Hopkins said:

@Troy Actually, I liked your little survey.  

I'm like my twin - I have an appreciation for numbers, data and stats.  

Further It was fascinating that the larger surveyed mirrored our sample... 

In Deed. My ciriticsms were meant to be constructive. However I forget to say job well done.

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Guest MissWanda50

Wow, I am amazed that the reactions to this survey. 

I think she looks happy and beautiful. She can wear whatever color of lipstick she wants. If she was happy looking in the mirror, then I am happy with her. I am sick of black women being put in tiny little boxes so we do not offend anyone, including ourselves. I am a black Female.

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