A Rainbow Prohibition

Anastasia Taylor-Lind wants more diversity in the photojournalism industry. and has penned an argument that is conventional, unimaginative and banal. She continues the long practice of confusing a lack of diversity in mainstream Western / European photojournalism as only about ethnic, nationalist, or gender. That is, about ‘mixing it up’ and creating the right optics of diversity, much like we see in college posters, or television ads with their token ‘people of colour’ thrown in. What is completely left out is politics.

That is, the idea of a diversity of political views and perspectives that face, criticize, and dissent against the mainstream European / Western mainstream liberal discourse. And by not acknowledging the ‘manufacturing of consent’ element of mainstream Western media – a fact that has now been written about in countless books, articles and blog sites, it falls prey to simple, and yet again, ‘liberal’ ideas about what ‘diversity’ means and ought to be.

However, I also wonder if there isn’t a connection between these two issues. That is, one wonders if the ‘lack of representation’ is not just about ethnicity, nation or gender, but about the fact that along with it also comes a confrontational, dissenting, alternative, troubling, problematic political history and perspective. That perhaps what is being policed or marginalised isn’t ethnicity, or gender, or nationality, but an alternative and critical political view that would ‘shake’ the loose and flimsy foundations of Western / European liberal self-righteousness?

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And this is where the dangers of ‘identity’ politics comes in – we have seen recent governments boast about their ‘rainbow’ colors – from the new Canadian administration with its smattering of brown, black and other faces, and most recently, the bizarre excitement over the choice of a new Mayor who happens to have a Pakistani, immigrant, and …. oh my God!…Muslim background. And yet, these ‘rainbow’ people, are strictly and deeply entrenched and married to the current liberal discourse around Israel, the War On Terror, surveillance, pre-emptive war, drone strikes, neoliberal economic policies, the eradication of the welfare state, the assault on unions and so on and so forth. That is, simply being of a different color or ethnicity is not a promise of a different way of thinking.

So perhaps photojournalism – a small segment of the broader media industry, one that is near exclusively owned by White, Male, Europeans deeply married to the nation-state and current political power, and deeply embedded in the culture and privileges of Western elitism – are not really policing ethnically, but are policing intellectually.

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