Sunday, October 16, 2005

Same on the Inside

The other day a good friend of mine, Jason Menard, who is a talented London, Ontario, columnist, blogger and editor, shared with me his commentary, "Not So Black and White."

His writing recounts how he, while watching an episode of Lost, assumed that a black woman's lost husband was of colour. In fact, the woman's husband was Caucasian.

His commentary examines his own assumptions that because this woman was black, her husband had to be black as well.

It is an interesting read because he honestly challenges his own belief system as a liberal-minded "White Male" who did not even consider the possibility of the show's couple being of a mixed-race union. He describes how he notices mixed-race couples but not same-race couples and tries to reconcile his personal belief that "we’re all the same on the inside" and his behavior.

Being personally of "mixed-race," (which to me is an oxymoron, because we are all of the human race), his statement "we're all the same on the inside" reminded me of a series I created a few years ago which I called unBenetton. In this body of work, I re-worked a number of Benetton ads, with permission, adding to my visual lexicon.

Jay asks, "how do we balance the need to educate those who continue to hold on tightly to the reins of ignorance and steer them to enlightenment, with the damaging effects that shining a spotlight on these issues can have for those of us who don’t consider colour and race an issue?"

The recent riot in Toledo, Ohio, demonstrates the need for educational material that goes beyond the tried and failed. Perhaps a little visual humour can go a long way in provoking, encouraging and stimulating conversation and self-reflection on this important social and very human issue.


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