Photo does a disservice

Letter to the editor

Posted: Friday, August 18, 2006

I am a daily Empire reader. Since 1998, I have loved the news, the commentaries and opinions of friends and neighbors, and the opportunity for art and free press to flourish in the community I called home. If I am out of town, I log in frequently throughout the week. However, the June 26th front page photo of a police officer attending to an unconscious man at the wharf parking lot left me very unimpressed.

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Though the nature of his illness is not described, I think the photo does an enormous disservice to the man's privacy and dignity. The man is Alaska Native and I found the shot invasive and degrading. His face is clearly shown and the photo leads us to believe that he is suffering from the effects of intoxication. There is no mention of his recovery or whether he was taken to hospital. If that man were white, his identity would have been protected, his privacy honored and his dignity unscathed.

I tell you, I love being Irish, but I don't think much of being white. We seem to conduct ourselves in a "business as usual" fashion, showing superficial respect and thinly-veiled contempt for Native cultures which in fact, demonstrated far superior behaviors in terms of social organization and resource management than white people ever showed their fellow beings and environment.

In the future, how about the photographer catch Murkowski exiting chambers? Or an artful snapshot of the parts per million coming from a cruise ship haystack with Mount Jumbo in the backdrop? Or photographs featuring prominent and ordinary Native Alaskans in their communities working hard and raising families? How about a Tlingit, Tshimshian or Aleut words of the day? Why do we continue to degrade Native Alaskans so thoughtlessly? Perhaps we need less empire and more equality.

Chris Joy


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