Archives About Staff BagNews is dedicated to visual politics, media literacy and the analysis of news images.
March 4, 2008

Our Man In Ohio #3: One Of Our Own

This is the third in a 48 hour series of Ohio primary dispatches from photojournalist and BNN Contributer Alan Chin.

Chinohio16 Chinohio14


(click for full size)

Perhaps race is a sensitive subject to discuss in the campaign because it isn’t supposed to matter.  Or, perhaps it is delicate talking about black pride in Obama out of caution not to detract from, or conflict with the pride so many women feel for Hillary.

What is unmistakable, however, is the engagement of black audiences with the candidate.  In many newswire photos of late, one can see black boys transfixed while listening to Obama.  One can juxtapose those images with the statistics, reported last week, that 1 in 100 Americans are in jail, including one in fifteen African-Americans, and one in nine black men between the ages of 20 and 34.

The metaphor that one generation evolves from standing on the shoulders of the previous seems relevant here, as is the fixed attention of the young man with the decorated letter jacket, getting a look at Obama in his own high school field house.

One Percent of All American Adults are Incarcerated (Crooked Timber)

(image: ©Alan Chin. Westerville, Ohio, outside Columbus. March 2, 2008.  Used by permission)

  • jonst

    The more this election turns into a ‘black pride’ thing, as understandable and laudable as that would be, the smaller Obama’s chances get to win not only the general election, but the nomination, perhaps, as well. IMHO anyway…

  • KansasKowboy

    I am all for Obama and I think that if he is elected President it will be a great shot in the arm for black Americans. It will be just what they need to lift them up as others and they themselves have tried but have had setbacks since the 1960’s. I haven’t been paying too much attention to this series of behind the scenes images you have been posting on your site. But I can’t help thinking from these three images here, being in black and white photography, how it is the feel of the 1960’s civil rights era.

  • black dog barking

    These three pictures tell a story I desperately hope to be true. The echo effect of the posture and presence of the foreground boy in the letter jacket and the background man in the sweat jacket says hope, directly and sublimely. Maybe a generation back that man was a boy in a letter jacket. Now they’re in the same place at the same time for the same reason.
    The cut of the well-dressed man’s suit, the pocket kerchief, but especially the hat over his knee recall Dr King. For me that means one of the great men of my lifetime, a man of vision, intelligence, and physical courage.
    And the girl on her father’s shoulders is with the most important man in her life and perhaps witnessing another great man — time and events will finish that part of the story.

  • charlie

    Hillary has to pay black people to support her.

  • The BAG

    To be honest, I think the work with Chin — back in Iowa last year, at Virginia State, and elsewhere — was a little (okay, sometimes a lot) heavier on the images than the underlying story.
    I think we made a jump in New Hampshire in January, though. Talking to Alan last night while he was pushing down the interstate (feeling fortunate that Hillary would be in Ohio tonight, and not Texas), he felt he has finally reached the point (doing the BAG thing) where has has broken beyond the spinning, spinning and counter-spinning campaign story lines and can just see much more of what’s “underneath.”
    (You might take a look back at the Rudi Giuliani piece at the Segway plant where Alan turned the camera around and captured those angry workers; or the piece where we focused more intently on the McCain/Lieberman New England tag team and McCain’s saccharin “open access” policy where he visually exploits the veterans and has a tendency to beat up on everybody else; or the decline of Bill and the emergence of Chelsea just at the point that corner was turned (which was a good stretch before Bill went haywire in South Carolina).  Here’s the link to the whole category: Our Man In New Hampshire.  It’s in the “Category Cloud” as well.)
    I think it takes a good while to develop (and trust) your own vision and media.  We’ve been investing. 

  • ‘tude

    Where to start…
    I am a writer, so I parse words like you parse images. Let me offer you four headlines:
    Beyond The Phrase – The headline indicates that there is substance here and the images of candidate confirm the viewpoint. We see a candidate in command of a large, apparently rapt crowd. (and a link to more Kennedyesque images of candidate in case you want more style over substance…)
    Looking Secure – He’s secure, you’re secure, we’re all secure. Hell, that photo is damnednear a group hug! A candidate in a sea of people, with lots of security, very rock star, or Kennedyesque, if you prefer.
    One Of Our Own – Ah, but what does ‘one of our own’ really mean? You, as a white man, may see race as the only thing defining who is one of here, but let me offer a different perspective. ‘our own’=man, young man, man holding up girl – note that without the man, the girl would be both unable to see the speaker and invisible to the crowd and photographer.
    Hilary Predawn – For crying out loud, does anything good ever happen predawn? It’s pretty much raids and dreaded phone calls. Why didn’t you just call this, “Hilary wakes you up at 4am and then pees in your cornflakes”? You pick the worst possible event (did the other candidate do no 10 minute stops? Did she make no speeches?) The photo of her is awful, bright lights, little sleep, no makeup. In case you don’t see it, and apparently you don’t, she is being treated in EXACTLY the same way that you bitch about her doing when you say she darkens her opponent’s pictures. Play the ‘not one of us’ card, baby. She’s unattractive, almost bedheaded, and visually diminished to the point of being dimmer than the framing lights. Not to mention surrounded by large shadowy, ahem, men. The other two shots you show: guy working while she goes by in a blur and empty turnstiles. WTF? Thanks for linking in the photo where the men (and, OH MY GOD, women) are happy to see her, but do you think that if it was the other guy, you might have put three photos of his adoring fans on the page? What’s that? Oh, right, you did!
    Your man in Ohio shoots, and you write, of “one of our own” and whatever his skin color, it is true. He’s a man, as the series points out, Obama is a man, three of four of the photo posts on his pictures are about a man. Yep, one of your own.
    The other obvious post about Hilary is “Makeup sex meets identity politics” Who in the f*ck is having sex there? Can you write about a woman without being so aware of her gender that your mind gets stuck in high school?
    Not too much love,
    ~ ‘tude
    ps – not to pick on the commenter on this thread (well maybe a little but you set the context) read KansasKowboy’s comment and tell me this: If you saw it out of context, would you think that the commonality that ‘one of our own’ was about was skin color or gender?

Refresh Archives

Random Notes