June 12, 2007
Black Boys With Guns: Fleet Week #2
Yesterday, I posted the first of a three-part series from Fleet Week. Photographer Nina Berman's images record the week-long festivities in New York involving the presence of naval ships, sailors, and military demonstrations and exhibitions all over the city.
In yesterday's post, I noted the lack of irony in the photos, wondering if the display of militarism and weaponry has simply become matter-of-fact in post-9/11 New York, and perhaps, in America, in general now.
The young men in #1 and 3 are both new Marine recruits who just recently signed up and are heading off to boot camp. The kid in #2 is a 14-year-old who is part of a youth cadet group. In #5, a group of white NYPD officers watching over an African-American kid letting loose his imagination on a fixed machine gun.
In this middle set of pictures, besides the message of how deep war has permeated the American psyche, I'm interested in questions, and perceptions, of race.
Overlaid in these images, we have the documentation of the military's luring of urban black males. We have the "disconnect" of knowing these kids are safe (to us, as well as to and among themselves) because they are under the supervision of an officially-sanctioned killing machine, or have already been conscripted. And, with the guns and face paint (#3), or the guns; no shirt; and gung-ho expression juxtaposed with "the man" looking down (#5), we have allusions to something I'm sure is commonly felt but rarely openly discussed (at least, not across "tribes" or beyond academia), which is the sense and fear of the (urban) black man as savage.
>>As before, if you have questions or comments for Nina, she'll be available to answer in the discussion thread<<
(image: Nina Berman/Redux. NYC, New York, May 25, 2007. Used by permission)