It has come to our attention that a small number of Corvallisites have objected to the cover on our recent Human Trafficking issue. The cover itself depicts a disembodied, dirty hand covering the mouth of a young woman. Despite the exact race and class being virtually indiscernible, we’ve received reports that the cover is insensitive to the working class, “impolite for public consumption” and even racist or racially insensitive. Some such instances include the perception of the dirt on the man’s hands, a dark tone for sure, as belonging to a black man. The woman has been criticized as being “white,” which is again, a matter of guesswork rather than fact. The term ‘pale’ has been mentioned a few times as well, and frankly… pale in comparison to what? You should have seen me in a pair of swimming trunks when I was 9. Now THAT was pale. Look, all I can say is that when you think like a hammer, suddenly everything starts to look like a nail.
To put it bluntly, human trafficking is a human problem; not a black problem, a white problem, or a factory worker’s problem. No differentiation was made when the photo was chosen because it shouldn’t have been. I won’t drone on about whether or not the hand was black because that’s a distracting argument that very quickly becomes counterproductive, not only to racial awareness but to the topic of the story. Which is? Something terrible is happening and some brave locals are helping to fight it. Young girls are being torn away from their families, shipped like cattle and then sold as sex slaves right in our own backyard. Yet, what I find especially disturbing is that a select few in our community felt morally obligated to vivisect the photo and hurl accusations of racism instead of take the time to address the story itself.
We at The Corvallis Advocate operate and thrive on diversity, treating all opinions with respect… but that sort of response is simply unconscionable, and saddening. We harbor no delusions that this is somehow a post-racial world. Any heart that fights against racial, ethnic or culturally tyranny is absolutely in the right place… but chasing ghosts hurts everyone involved.
by Johnny Beaver