Monday, August 14, 2006

The Multi-angle Phenomenon

This week's topic is familiar to many mixed-race people. Have you ever glanced at someone, and then when you saw them again...they looked like a different race from when you first saw them? I'm talking about how a person's racial appearance can change depending on the distance, lighting, and angle from which you're looking at them. This works better in real life than in pictures, but I'll try to illustrate.

What ethnicity does this woman look like?

To me, she looks Latina or southern European (she looks Italian or some kind of Mediterranean ethnic group in my opinion).

Ok, how about the woman below? What ethnicity?

Asian? Most people would say she looks Asian (maybe Chinese or Japanese).

What's interesting's the same woman in both pictures!

Let's do a guy now.
The man below (on the left) looks like what ethnicity?

Most people would say he's Black.

And the guy below?

Yes, it's the same guy in both pictures. In the 2nd photo, I think he could pass for Filipino, or maybe a Latino with strong American Indian blood.

"So what's the point?" you're probably asking. My point is, people will not always look like their ethnicity. The woman above is Tammy Duckworth, who is currently running for congress in Illinois, USA. She is half Thai and half White. The guy above is Will Demps, who is a football player for the NFL (New York Giants). He is half Korean and half Black.

Did you notice how their races changed? (In my opinion at least). They're the same two people, but their ethnicities changed because of the lighting and camera angle. This could cost them their lives if they looked like a certain race at the wrong time.

What if Will Demps was in a dark room and then he encountered a racist Filipino who's killing Black people? Do you think the killer's gonna go "hmm...I don't know"?

Or what if that same racist Filipino person saw Will Demps in bright sunlight? Let's just say, Demps would look more Black in a dark room.

This isn't just a case of "what if." This has happened. After 9/11, Middle Eastern people weren't the only ones who experienced racism, but also "dark-skinned Latinos with goatees." In many cases, these Latinos were mistaken to be Arab and then were attacked based on that. I guess the angle and lighting made them look more Arab at the time.

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