Photos & Projects

The Season of our Discontent – By Mark Seawell

July 4, 2020

I watch from my perch in Ogden Utah, 30 miles north of Salt Lake as the world wobbles out of control. The year 2020 arrived and COVID-19 swept across the country. Meanwhile, the President of the divided United States wrapped himself in conspiracy theories and spewed outright lies, fueling the body count by his sheer negligence and stunning incompetence.

On 18 March I awoke to go the work, had a cup of coffee with my wife and I was about to leave I turned to her and said “Babe, do you know what I would like today” and she answered no. “I want a normal day! I am so tired of crazy!” She laughed and I drove to work 20 minutes away. I knew something was wrong the minute my phone starting ringing as I walked into the lobby.

My excited wife is on the other end and asked “Did you feel that?? The whole house was shaking! I think we just had a earthquake!” It turns out it was nearly a 6 on the Richter scale. The year 2020 had already been a huge challenge but what I didn’t know was worse was to come.

On 25 May, a policeman with his knee on a black man’s neck in Minneapolis would trigger an earthquake of a different sort. But instead of a 6 on the Richter scale, this would be a 9 on the political scale.

All the images here were captured with my Fujifilm X-T4.  I used my Voightlander 40mm, Fujifilm 18-55mm and Fujifilm 55-200mm.

I am a man, an African-American man to be specific. I was born in Raleigh North Carolina and joined the Air Force one month after my 19th birthday. My first assignment was Onizuka AF station in northern California. Besides the palm trees, what struck me after living there a couple of months was interracial dating. Amazing. I didn’t really see too much of that, if any in Raleigh.

There were lines. My parents briefed me and my three brothers on those lines. When dealing with the police keep your hands visible keep it “yes sir, no sir” and don’t provoke them because it will not end well for you. And I told my bi-racial children the same with special emphasis for our only son when it came to the police. There are lines. But maybe those lines are starting to crack and break after 400 years of enforcement.

There has always been a deep political divide in America but our recent history has seen the fault lines widened, exasperated by the public lynching of George Floyd by a Minneapolis policeman as his colleagues stood by and casually watched. These images were beamed around the world for all to see.

The murder of Ahmaud Arbery in February, as he jogged in a white neighborhood had already ratcheted up racial tensions. The killing of Breonna Taylor by policeman in her own home as she slept added even more fuel to the raging fire in the African-American community.

Some people say racial tensions have worsened under Trump but most African-Americans would respond as the actor Will Smith did “Things haven’t gotten bad, they’ve gotten filmed.”

Thirty years ago Los Angeles burned after the Rodney King riots and here we are again. But these protests are different, focused not only on police brutality but the persistent systemic and institutional racism still gripping our country. This time the people protesting are not only African-American but people from across racial lines. A rainbow coalition of Caucasians, Asian-Americans, LatinX people have been joined by the LGBTQ community in this struggle for equal rights and opportunities too long denied. At the heart of this dynamic movement, despite their disparate backgrounds, leading the demand for change is the youth of our country.

To truly understand how we have arrived at this pivotal moment in our history, one must move beyond police brutality. The police function as the pointy end of the spear of oppression, a blunt tool among many used to ensure white supremacy. Make no mistake, what has befallen African-Americans and other peoples of color in this country has been a carefully crafted and well executed plan to ensure the true reins of power are always held in white hands. These laws, hobbling African-Americans have been enshrined and reinforced no matter what administration is in power. Banks have red-lined entire zip codes making it hard for African-Americans to receive loans for homes or to start a business. Voter suppression efforts by the Republican party have been persistent and effective especially after the Supreme Court gutted a key provision of the 1964 Civil Rights Act that protected access to the ballot box for minorities. Southern states no longer needed approval from federal judges before changing voting laws in their communities. With the federal restraints removed, most southern states have eagerly erected new barriers to disenfranchise the black vote.

The arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic in January of 2020 was another body blow to the African-American community. Due to poor social-economic conditions, the mortality rate among African-Americans is three times the rate of their white counterparts. Unemployment in the African-American community has jumped from a historic low under the Obama administration to 16.7 percent largely due to COVID-19. The world is reeling but in Ogden I witnessed both despair…and hope.

Despair and Hope

The northern chapter of Black Lives Matter organized a protest against the killing of George Floyd. My wife and were hesitant to participate because of the pandemic. We had been following the CDC recommendations and severely limited our social gatherings while practicing social distancing and wearing a mask. But in the end we decided to attend because we felt we had no choice. We wanted our voices added to the millions of Americans who were standing up and saying enough is enough, tired of dealing with racist policies. It would have been an affront to all the previous generations who have struggled, marched, and some who paid the ultimate price for standing up to oppression.

So on a beautiful Saturday afternoon we drove to downtown Ogden just off historic 25th street. At first we were surprised and a bit disappointed by the small size of the crowd. It seemed maybe twenty to thirty people were present in front of the Ogden municipal building but our fears of a weak turnout were soon put to rest. As if from nowhere people began to materialize, throngs of black, white, Asian, LatinX, people of all ages but especially the young! Soon the leadership of Black Lives Matters started to speak. An air of excitement rippled through the crowd as people raised their voices and their signs of defiance for the world to see.


The first issue the leadership of Black Lives Matter addressed was the theme of non-violence. They wanted a peaceful protest and advised any agitators or people looking for trouble to depart. They thanked the Ogden police who were present in force for their cooperation in organizing the protest and saluted an Ogden police officer who was killed the previous day while responding to a domestic dispute. The crowd responded with warm support for the fallen officer.

As I cautiously made my way around I noticed a few people openly carrying firearms (legal in Utah) and this felt uncomfortable because of the charged atmosphere permeating the country. It wouldn’t take much to spark a confrontation. One man was carrying his holstered pistol, his phone out recording the crowd while the other seemed to stay on the peripheral, observing people from a distance.

The protest came to a peaceful end. It lasted just a few hours and truthfully it is just a beginning, so much remains to be done to defeat the scourge of police brutality and white supremacy in the United States. The roots of hatred run very deep and permeate all segments of American society but on this day one got the feeling that something fundamental had changed.

Perhaps what I witnessed in Ogden on this day, indeed across America was the winds of change blowing wild and free, a new generation of diverse ethnic groups and sexual backgrounds coming together to have their voices heard, their message unmistakable “Black Lives do Matter”! Witness the season….of our discontent.

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61 Comments

  • Reply
    Stephen Kayara
    July 4, 2020 at 4:15 pm

    So, you had to interject your politics on a website meant for photography. Fine. You have been unsubscribed.

    • Reply
      Philip Lambert
      July 4, 2020 at 7:35 pm

      An excellent article if mostly not about photography. Some of the responses are off topic too.

    • Reply
      Khürt Louis Williams
      July 5, 2020 at 3:30 am

      Goodbye Stephen.

  • Reply
    Robert G
    July 4, 2020 at 4:42 pm

    Nice sloganeering! One man’s opinions devoid of supporting facts becomes the “facts” to support mass demonstrations in a time of pandemic. All the sadder because there are real issues of criminal inequities in law enforcement and the legal justice system. In Los Angeles, a BLM mob went on a “non-violent” rampage in a Jewish neighborhood destroying businesses and defacing synagogues, In NYC, similar personal violence and destruction of private property. All of which isn’t surprising given #BLM’s manifesto of Marxist collective ownership of banks, businesses and natural resources, plus a blood libel against Jews claiming “genocide” against Palestinians. So the actions of the Mob is what I’ve come to expect.

    • Reply
      Hamish
      July 4, 2020 at 9:02 pm

      The BLM movement has, in I would say most people’s views, transcended the the goals of the organisation. Certainly in the uk, it’s seen as fairly shortsighted to conflate the organisation with the broader goals of the wider movement.
      It’s also seen as a convenient way to not face up to the truths of the movement. For some, it seems to be much easier to gaslight than just accept that there are large swathes of our societies that feel short changed.
      I am willing to accept it, so I choose to give a voice to a few people who through photos and words want to express their feelings on the subject.

      • Reply
        Roger B.
        July 4, 2020 at 9:24 pm

        No argument, Hamish, with the truth of long-ingrained racism in our western societies. But another truth that should be noted is that of the BLM organization’s goals, which are easily learned from their website. I have no argument with photos of political activities being posted here – shot quite a few myself in the late 1960s for that matter. But 35MMC should present photos without polemics. Let the images speak for themselves; if they are make with skill and art they will fairly shout the truth.

        • Reply
          Hamish Gill
          July 4, 2020 at 11:24 pm

          At the risk of seeming lazy, my response to Robert above is what I would reply to you here too.

      • Reply
        Robert G.
        July 5, 2020 at 1:46 am

        How is it “fairly short-sighted to conflate the organization with the broader goals”? The devil is in the details and if you are unbothered by some of the unsavory positions or aren’t the target of #BLM’s broader goals, I imagine it’s easier to turn a blind eye. I think no one commenting takes issue with the notion that black lives matter too. History is replete with the lessons of not taking mass movements at their word or embracing the nobler goals but willfully ignoring the ugliness that’s inconvenient.

        • Reply
          Hamish Gill
          July 5, 2020 at 8:46 am

          The problem is here is that the other ugliness – the problems of and caused by racism – are greater still. And have been wilfully ignored for much much longer.
          What are your concerns here? What’s your worst case scenario? What history could repeat that you are so fearful of?

          • Robert G.
            July 5, 2020 at 4:10 pm

            What am I fearful of? Hamish, read the history of the 20th century and the rise of Fascist and Marxist political movements in Russia, Italy, Germany, Spain, China, Vietnam, Laos, Cuba…..

            Look at your own beloved Labour Party, befouled by anti-Jewish bigots hiding behind the canard of “anti-Zionism” long after their comments revealed them to be otherwise.

          • Hamish Gill
            July 5, 2020 at 8:34 pm

            But what’s the reality of this fear. What are you scared might result? Some sort of Marxist revolution? Or god forbid, some sort of left wing government…?
            And you have these concerns whilst you have trump in power…?
            I can’t get my head around that at all.

            As for the Labour Party, I’m not happy about the antisemitic members, they need to be removed from the party. The party is contains a very broad spectrum of perspectives and views, some I agree with, some I very strongly disagree with. But it’s fundamental cause and nature as the left wing party in the UK is why I vote for it.

            I’m a lefty, and believe in broadly left wing ideals. I don’t want communism for my society, nor do I want it for yours, but I do think something that’s slightly left of centre would be better for everyone. Equality is a part of that.

          • Mark Seawell
            July 5, 2020 at 9:14 pm

            Robert if anything we have more to fear from the return of the “strong man” than we do from left leaning governments or movements. From the Putin’s to the Trumps and the list goes on and on. Right now as the axis grinds I would say with their authoritarian bents are the true threat to liberty.

  • Reply
    Roger B.
    July 4, 2020 at 4:55 pm

    If you are intent on turning a photography blog into (yet another) political rant site, please at least make an effort to get your facts straight. The COVID mortality peaks in the USA have been in nursing homes, packed with COVID sufferers by Democrat mayors and governors. There is a world of difference between the BLM political movement and how black lives actually matter. BLM is an avowed cultural Marxist organization, with stated goals of eliminating the nuclear family and replacing fathers with a paternalistic government. Just a schosh of historical research will reveal that the black nuclear family was torpedoed by Democrat LBJ’s “Great Society” programs. I am old enough to have seen, and lived alongside, strong and solid black urban neighborhoods, where the unemployment rate was actually lower than in the adjoining majority-white districts. Indeed, if black lives matter, does that slogan only apply outside the womb? Have you noted that Democrat Party, Sanger-inspired abortion on demand has resulted in more black babies dying in utero than actually being born? And please… before you get all self-righteous and try to “cancel” my comments, recall that you authored this post. So-called progressive social policies have truly evil consequences. They include promoting lies about the scope of police “brutality” which, again, a short online excursion to (to name an accurate one) the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting website will correct.

    • Reply
      Gorpalm
      July 5, 2020 at 12:02 am

      Please, keep your poisoned opinions and your twisted arguments built on your stinking racism to yourself. You’re the offensive one spouting political untruths here, not the author of the piece.

      • Reply
        Ed
        July 5, 2020 at 1:32 am

        How or Roger or Robert offensive? They are just stating facts. To which I’ll add the black-on-black murder statistics in the US that dwarf police offenses by a factor of 1000. None of which excuses to outright murder of George Floyd, or the prosecutorial abuses of authorities locking up generations of black men for minor offenses or plea bargains on crimes they didn’t’t commit.

        Lifting up yourself should not entail trodding on others or obfuscating other ugly realities.

        • Reply
          Hamish Gill
          July 5, 2020 at 9:03 am

          The ugly reality is that the black-on-black crime is a product of the position within society that those people find themselves in. It’s also a lot easier to demonstrate through statistics. The white-on-black crime is harder to pinpoint, less statistic based, more nuanced. But still felt. If we had a society that treated black people/people of colour equally, then none of this would be happening. Not the extent of the black-on-black crime, or the protesting.

          Focusing on specific symptoms is ignoring the horrendous sickness that causes them.

          • Robert G
            July 5, 2020 at 4:29 pm

            Crime statistics are what they are and easily found, confirming my comments. There are many who maintain irrational bigotries and no sets of laws will legislate them away. But this is not the mid-20th century and as terrible as these individual events are, they are but anecdotes in a larger narrative that has seen unimaginable change for the better. Myriad of factors contributes to the circumstance of African Americans, not least of which but not exclusive to prejudice. Unlike Britain, immigrants from East Asia, South Asia, West Africa, the Caribbean had changed the cultural landscape. They have all met with resistance as all new immigrants invariably do but have to a larger degree risen above it financially and politically. There’s more to what’s going on than memorable catch-phrases or slogans on the Left. And with sincere respect to the suffering of others, it isn’t ‘racist’ to ask these questions.

    • Reply
      jwt
      July 6, 2020 at 9:44 pm

      I love how people misinterpret the word “facts” with political talking points. I’ve heard the Covid nursing home one a lot recently. The same people complaining about mayors and governors trying to keep the infection rate down are now caught with both feet in their mouth since the recent spikes in red states. They can’t say that anymore, so they’re trying to blame nursing home conditions on mayors and governors.

  • Reply
    David Kopytko
    July 4, 2020 at 5:16 pm

    Very interesting article, great pictures, thank you Mark Seawell. This is exactly the kind of content that places 35mmc over most other photography sites: substance!

    • Reply
      Roger B.
      July 4, 2020 at 7:48 pm

      David: You do note you described 35MMC as a “photography site”. There are not very many photography sites, especially ones devoted to analog, on the internet. There are perhaps a thousand political sites available for the grazing. I see no need for “intersectionality” to corrupt the first with the latter. Also unsubscribed and de-supported on Patreon.

      • Reply
        Hamish Gill
        July 4, 2020 at 8:39 pm

        This website has and always will be reflective of my personality and the things that interest and mean something to me. But just as I have used it as a platform to raise money for refugees in the past, and spoken about my membership and support of the Labour Party in the uk, I choose to use it to express my views on the BLM movement, albeit through the voices of others… in this case a black man, who I would argue is probably a little better places than myself to comment directly on such a topic…

        That said, to my mind, BLM Is a movement that contains a broad spectrum of political views, some of which I agree with, some less so. Ultimately though, it is about equality, and equality is something that I feel strongly about.

        I do continue to be bemused and saddened by the anger I see here. But so be it. I can’t expect others not to want to stand up for their views in the face of opposition to them.

        I chose to give a platform to this article, and I stand by the choice, just as I stand by those who have less opportunity in our unfair world.

        • Reply
          Mark Seawell
          July 4, 2020 at 9:26 pm

          And as author of this article I do appreciate the platform. I cannot speak to the viewers experience with Black Lives Matter, only my own. What I viewed on that Saturday was a very peaceful demonstration, young and old, black and white (and trust me Utah is VERY white!) LatinX and LGBTQ all gathered to ask, or demand one thing…equality. For too long peoples of different ethic backgrounds, cultures, skin colors or sexual orientation have been treated as “outsiders” and honestly not treated as American or even human for that matter. When has been that when minorities stand up for their humanity that they are not met work anger, more repression and hatred? Why is it when you as a minority have the audacity to hold up the constitution and say this is my country as well the real truth emerges and you see there are so many who refuse to acknowledge your RIGHTS your HUMANITY as guaranteed by the same constitution they embrace? I am many things. A husband of 31 years, a father of three bi-racial children (now adults), a photographer going on 15 years, a man who gave 20 years of my life to the Air Force serving this country that I love but sometimes doesn’t love me back and the son of deceased parents who sacrificed so much to give me the opportunity to dream and pursue a life that was denied to them. I see the price paid for myself and my generation and cast my eyes forward to a future where my children and future grandchildren stand on the mountain of equality, free to succeed or fail and be treated as…people. I didn’t want this fight. My camera is normally trained on the rolling hills of Germany where I fell in love with photography and now the mountains that surround my home in Utah but I’ll be damned if I will run, my debt to what was and what may well be is too great. If you are/were offended by what some consider and egregious intrusion into their insulated world of photography, a place they can escape real life in a way I envy you. Because too many judge me on the color of my skin there is no escape. You have no idea nor do you care to understand things outside of your world. Photography allows me to capture the world and all its struggles and elevates my voice in the everlasting struggle for my humanity and maybe yours.

          • Hamish Gill
            July 5, 2020 at 12:41 am

            This is what I stand in support of when I chose to share this article on this website.

      • Reply
        David Kopytko
        July 5, 2020 at 5:47 am

        Roger B. You are using the word corruption for describing what many real photographers (and by that understand: concerned photographers) would simply see as purposeful, engaged documentary work. Those who chose photography as a medium for the right reasons know that it can represent a powerful tool in the fight against totalitarism. Others, those who never saw in a camera anything more than a gadget will always miss the point… I don’t mean to reduce the role of photography to a political medium. It is a means of expression, and as such can be used to convey a wide range of emotions, concepts, and facts. Please do not try limit others by asking them to avoid intersectionality. We are all grown-ups in this forum. And yes, some of us are indeed concerned photographers.

  • Reply
    WayneT
    July 4, 2020 at 5:39 pm

    Excellent post. Thank you.

  • Reply
    justin compton
    July 4, 2020 at 7:34 pm

    Interesting and heartfelt, photography is not just about pictures and art should always have something to say.

  • Reply
    D Evan Bedford
    July 4, 2020 at 9:43 pm

    Many thanks to Mark for posting this. And many thanks to Hamish for allowing it. Two thumbs way up! We watch from Canada in horror at what is going on south of the border.

  • Reply
    Jonathan Leavitt
    July 5, 2020 at 12:38 am

    Amen to this post and I hope people outside the USA all realize that these times of protest and revelations are steps in the right direction. They are signs of progress, much slower than it should be for sure, but Trump and his supporters are not characteristic ofAmerica as a whole, and will not survive here for much longer. In some sense we are still fighting remnants of the English civil war, in that the Southern racists are descendants of Cavaliers who mostly settled into a plantation system in the South when the emigrated to the colonies.

    • Reply
      Wayne
      July 5, 2020 at 6:47 am

      I suppose the descendants of the Cavaliers, having their pockets stuffed with cotton and tobacco seed, moved into the fertile south, knowing full well that that would be the most suitable region to set up slavery/racism in honor of their English forebears. In my view, there is little more contemptible than a person with patronizing attitude, who knows nothing of what he speaks or writes. If you wish to understand the turmoil in the USA, and you also wish an English reference, go no further than Benjamin Disraeli:..”Man is a creation of God, and devine; the mob is a creation of the press and politics.” As those who would, sit on the sidelines, casting aspersions at your fellow Americans, sleep well in your ignorance…..It is the greatest gift of ignorance.

      While stationed in Great Britain, one thing I came to admire about the English politician, at least at that time, was the capacity to humble themselves when found to be undeniably caught in corruption. We, in America, have never had that in our politicians, on either side. We will suffer through this one, as we have suffered through similar in past.

      Thanks to Hamish for a great site. Although, I do think you would serve yourself well to weed out the entirely one sided political submissions. They bear the earmark of passion, rather than reason and understanding. Just for fun, look up the synonyms for “passion.”

      • Reply
        Hamish Gill
        July 5, 2020 at 8:51 am

        “affection, attachment, devotedness, devotion, fondness, love”

        • Reply
          Wayne
          July 5, 2020 at 9:52 am

          You should consider a career in American politics. 🙂

          • Hamish Gill
            July 5, 2020 at 9:56 am

            I got your point, by the way. My point, albeit a subtle one, is that it depends on how you choose to confirm your bias. I guess I’ve shown how I confirm mine… …

          • Mark Seawell
            July 5, 2020 at 9:12 pm

            Thanks but I’ll pass! I’m more effective with my camera than I would be in politics, at least for now!

            Mark

  • Reply
    Khürt Louis Williams
    July 5, 2020 at 3:33 am

    Wonderful photo essay with a personal perspective.

  • Reply
    Castelli Daniel
    July 5, 2020 at 4:19 am

    Hey Mark,
    You really kicked over the bees nest, haven’t you.
    And Hamish, you continue to annoy people by posting uncomfortable articles.
    You both are people I’d have a beer with.
    I won’t patronize Mark by saying I know what you’re going through, because I don’t know, and will never know what it must be like to walk in the shoes of a Black person. I know how it hurt being called a dirty wop when I was little. But that passed. It never passes for Brown & Black members of our society.
    All the people writing disparaging remarks, I bet, are White. What the hell are you afraid of? Really, what scares you? A Black man writes a narrative to accompany his photographs. Why does that trouble you.?The text made me sad and uncomfortable. Sad because I read the part about Black Mom’s giving their children the ‘speech’ before they go outside. Uncomfortable because I realize that I have been silent for too long. I/we need to speak out when we see injustice. Here in Connecticut (one of the bluest states) a White couple from NY were caught stomping on a older Black woman. Caught on security cameras. Police ‘investigated’ and didn’t arrest the couple, but let them go back home. I know that if the roles were reversed, and the couple were Black, they’d be sitting in jail. That’s what I mean about injustice. Now the police want to arrest the couple after the video came to light and people protested the lack of response. That’s what I mean about being silent. No noise, no corrective action. Now I’m making noise. This must stop.
    Well, I’ve yammered enough for one night. I’m sure the right wingers will tear into me for my views, and quote ‘faux news’ to prove their point, so go right ahead. You’re all crappy photographers anyway!

  • Reply
    Malcolm Myers
    July 5, 2020 at 9:45 am

    Mark, thank you for the informative article. As a white UK resident can you please explain to me (and I am looking to better understand, not looking to provoke an argument) what President Obama was able to achieve (or not) in terms of rights for black people? Was it a case of: a President can only do so much; or that whatever he did has been undone by the current administration? I am sure I don’t fully understand where power lies in the USA (President, Senate, Congress, Supreme Court) so if you could give a brief explanation that would help too.

    • Reply
      Mark Seawell
      July 5, 2020 at 9:20 pm

      Hello Malcolm and thank you for your kind words and inquiry. Honestly, President Obama was severely hampered in his last six years with achieving most of his legislative goes because of a very stubborn and racist Republican party led by Senator Mitch McConnell. They decided from day one NOT to work with President Obama and obstructed just about everything they could including the Affordable Health Care Act which provided healthcare for millions of uninsured Americans. There are some intellectuals, Cornel West being among the most vocal who would argue Obama did very little to help people of color in the United States because he was “Republican lite” and too closely tied to Wall Street. A bit harsh but it is true Obama wasn’t able to achieve much that elevated people of color while in office outside of Obamacare.

  • Reply
    Mike Kukulski
    July 5, 2020 at 4:15 pm

    Please stick to photography – this shows a lack of focus on 35mmc’s strengths, particularly as there are better options to explore political commentary.

    • Reply
      Huss
      July 5, 2020 at 10:00 pm

      I count 11 photographs in the article.

      • Reply
        Mike Kukulski
        July 5, 2020 at 11:56 pm

        So let the photos speak for themselves. Dorothea Lange didn’t need to explain “Migrant Mother”; Edward Weston didn’t need to explain “Pepper No.30”. We are capable of forming our own conclusions about the world and art without commentary, especially personal political views; there re plenty of other venues better suited for that.

        • Reply
          Huss
          July 8, 2020 at 9:33 pm

          I think the site you then want is Flickr. All photos, no words.

  • Reply
    Ed
    July 5, 2020 at 4:40 pm

    Mark–

    Thank you for your service to the country and your documentary images above. My heart pains out for the experiences you’ve had to endure that we here may never be able to relate to or even experience, This is not a “right-wing” or left wing” issue. It boils down to justice. But justice is a two-edge sword and must be sharp enough to cut all around. #BLM cannot work to raise the condition of some while demeaning that of others, or promoting economics inimical to the entire body politic but then demanding everyone’s unquestioning obeisance. There’s no fake news in this comment. It’s merely a warning of caution.

  • Reply
    H.S.
    July 6, 2020 at 12:57 am

    The comments section here points out the need for these protests, that’s for sure. Racism is alive and well, and as a white person myself, it is sad to see so many white (men) are so fragile that they have to lash out about a well-written article with excellent photography. It’s sad that so many have such fragile egos here.

  • Reply
    Leviticus
    July 6, 2020 at 3:04 am

    sharing my goto bag https://amzn.to/38yJEHI

  • Reply
    Steve Harp
    July 6, 2020 at 4:03 am

    As if photography occurs outside of a narrative, outside a context . . .

  • Reply
    Stephen Procter
    July 6, 2020 at 1:46 pm

    It seems pretty lame to me that anyone should complain that this post is not about photography. That may be a bit blunt, but presumably the whole point of having a camera is to use it to reveal something about the world you live in. If you think the importance of black lives is not something that should be shown, I struggle to see your world view as anything but racist. If you insist that you are not racist, then please tell me what you intend to do to promote racial equality?

    • Reply
      Hamish Gill
      July 6, 2020 at 8:38 pm

      👆👍👍

    • Reply
      ed
      July 6, 2020 at 9:16 pm

      So, if you support the basis premise that black lives matter too, but not the organization, BLM, you’re a racist. I get it now,

      • Reply
        Hamish Gill
        July 7, 2020 at 7:40 am

        This is precisely the issue I have with the antagonist argument here. I don’t agree with that sentiment at all, nor do I believe that it was Stephen’s point. I support the basic premise, but don’t support many of the extreme ideas and ideals that the antagonists here associate with the BLM organisation. But by posting this, Mark and by extension me are being tarred with that brush. Yet no one has actually taken the time just to ask Mark (or me) how he feels about the BLM organisation. Everyone has just made the jump that because we have chosen to share it, we must have and support extreme views.
        In short, you have just perfectly illustrated my exact frustration, but from the other point of view… the “if the shoe fits” attitude is frustrating isn’t it?!

        • Reply
          Ed
          July 7, 2020 at 7:09 pm

          What shoes do you fit into then, with all due respect?
          There were numerous, spontaneous, peaceful marches here in New York City showing the outrage nearly everyone felt and thousands of us joined in solidarity. A GoFundMe page to help his orphan, which I, like many others contributed to was a sign of solidarity. If I decline supporting an organization because of its unsavory and bigoted positions, particularly one that demonizes a whole group of people even though it promotes a worthy cause, make me a racist?
          There’s one lazy way to shut down free & open discussions by shouting “racist”, as one of the posters did above (and perhaps as you are implying). Otherwise, it becomes an echo chamber of the like-minded. If this is the case, then there isn’t a point belaboring a different perspective,

          • Hamish Gill
            July 8, 2020 at 3:11 pm

            Anti-racist is my shoe size. Passively before, but I would say more actively since I have recently taken a lot more time and effort to engage in the conversation.

            The issue here – as I have continued to labour on this post and a previous one – and as many people here are pointing out – is that as soon as someone says “black lives matter” there are a group of people who will jump down that persons throat because they automatically assume that the person saying it believes in extreme marxist views.

            A number of people have made that jump here without even taking the time to ask Mark. As you can see from Mark’s comment, he didn’t come at this article from a Marxist point of view at all

            Now, unfortunately – as you rightly point out – those people then get accused of racism. Which I would agree with you, isn’t necessarily right either. But the point here is this. If they had just taken a moment to ask Mark calmly about his views before making the accusations, this whole argument could have been a much more interesting conversation instead.

      • Reply
        Mark Seawell
        July 7, 2020 at 4:57 pm

        I concur with Hamish. It is so sad and a bit frustrating to see all the anger directed towards us. I’m no expert on Black Lives Matter but after 54 years on the planet I would say I’m an expert at being black! The two rallies I’ve attended have been nothing but peaceful. The first thing they said at both rallies is “Demonstrate in peace.” And here I am again in another conversation focusing on defending Black Lives Matter when if fact what should be discussed is why the need to protest is still necessary in 2020. Isn’t it funny how people condemn Black Lives Matter as some Marxist organization just like the Hoover and the American government branded Dr. King and the civil rights movement in the 60’s? Some things never change! History is nothing more than a repeating loop…of ignorance.

        • Reply
          Alex Vye
          July 7, 2020 at 5:20 pm

          Fantastic article, fantastic photos. I support you 100%.

        • Reply
          Ed
          July 7, 2020 at 7:12 pm

          Mark–

          The difference was Dr Martin Luther King was not a Marxist and BLM is a self-declared Marxist, anti-Jewish, anti-Israel organization.

    • Reply
      Mark Seawell
      July 7, 2020 at 3:03 pm

      Indeed sir, indeed.

      mark

  • Reply
    Donald Lush
    July 8, 2020 at 5:42 pm

    More power to your elbow Hamish – thanks for publishing this and for taking the time to argue your corner. So much great photography has promoted justice and it’s great to see it continuing.

    • Reply
      Hamish Gill
      July 8, 2020 at 8:43 pm

      Thanks Donald 👍

  • Reply
    NigelH
    July 9, 2020 at 3:12 am

    Good post showing how photography along with a strong narrative ca make for a compelling read. Photography is a tool for reflecting life ( not just for pretty sunsets and landscapes) and here it was used well. I am not fully informed on the BLM organisation but racism in this country is shockingly prevalent and sometimes you need an opposing extremist pressure to bring society to a more middling position. Black Lives Matter is more than just that organisation now and is a fitting statement for progress.

  • Reply
    John Duder
    July 22, 2020 at 5:17 pm

    I’m English, and I know Mark Seawell through his pictures on the British website ephotozine.com.

    On a photographic level, I note that reportage has always been a valid type of photography, and that every newspaper, TV channel and website explains the images they publish.

    As a (white) person, I do not believe in passing by on the other side. What threatens others will ultimately threaten me, my friends and my family. I was appalled by the murder of George Floyd, and I don’t see that carrying a camera somehow makes this none of my business.

    I live in a pretty multicultural part of England, my children grew up with friends of all races and religions. It’s not a perfect community, and bad things can happen here. But a policeman killing an innocent man, slowly… That would be cause for a crystal-clear political response, and pretty definite condemnation by the police.

    Something about government of the people, by the people, for the people; and holding the equality of all men (and women) to be self-evident.

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