Photo One is captioned as follows:
A young man walks through chest deep flood water after looting a grocery store in New Orleans on Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2005. Flood waters continue to rise in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina did extensive damage when it made landfall on Monday. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)
Two residents wade through chest-deep water after finding bread and soda from a local grocery store after Hurricane Katrina came through the area in New Orleans, Louisiana.(AFP/Getty Images/Chris Graythen)
Literally the ONLY discernible difference I can see between photos one and two (you can check yourself) is that the "looter" is black, and the "finders" are white.
What a surprise. Looks like Jerry Kang was right. Professor Kang argues that subtle racial "priming" effects our attitudes--that the exposure to constant negative stereotypes about racial minorities allows racism to continue where it might otherwise be killed off. He then links it in to local news coverage, arguing that the parade of Black criminals that headline every single day create far worse problems for society than is justified by their news value (especially given that the coverage is nearly always disproportionately higher than the amount of minority crime would seem to dictate).
And here we are, with news coverage engaging in that very type of stereotyping (and to be honest, I don't think Louisiana needs any pushes in the racist direction). It's unbelievable just how much racist stereotypes infect even the most mundane things--but it's rare you actually have a side-by-side like this that really demonstrates how deep the problem is.
I have to ask what on EARTH those caption writers were thinking?
See also Atrios, Spin Dry, and Metafilter.
UPDATE: Althouse argues that since the captions were by two different wire services (AP and AFP), the racism charge doesn't hold. That carries some weight, but Yahoo still made the conscious decision on which photos to run and how to run them. And even if the decision was totally "innocent," the racial priming effect Kang talks about still exists. So at best this just shows how when racism is deeply imbedded it can perpetuate itself even via well-meaning actors applying neutral standards.