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Professor Brody

ENGL 301

11 February 2019

Discrimination or Social Norms?

The article of “Loot or Find: Fact or Frame?” by Cheryl I. Harris and Devon W. Carbado

explains the media coverage of the aftermath of the devastating hurricane Katrina crashes into

New Orleans. With the same images provided in the article of people holding food, the use of

terminologies to describe the photos are completely contradicting each other based on the person

present in the photo. The term “loot” is used for the second image showed in the article, and the

word “find” is used for two white people in the first image. The authors introduce the idea of the

Color-Blind Frame in that it explains, “most share the idea that we interpret events through

frames – interpretational structures that, consciously and unconsciously, shape what we see and

how we see it” (Harris and Carbado, 622). For example, the photographer, Chris Graythen’s

selection choice when choosing the photo that fits in his frame of reference that white people do

not steal goods from stores, and the people of color is more likely to steal foods while the store is

not being attended. When the facts do not qualify perfectly when the frame of reference that one

has for an event, they are simply being ignored, or extra information is being used to satisfy the

expectations one has (Harris and Carbado, 628). The frames that many people see associate black

people to criminality but disassociate when they are being victimized.

The idea of the frame of reference by Harris and Carbado also illustrates the “Theories

and Constructs of Race” by Holtzman and Sharpe. In both articles, the authors agree that the

perspective that people have toward racism is due to the lack of law and order. Holtzman and
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Sharpe argue that race is constructed socially, culturally, politically, and economically, and not

ethnicity or the country of their origins (Holtzman and Sharpe, 603). The concept of whiteness

that the society is infused with means privileges, separating the vulnerabilities and minorities,

and sometimes enforces with power and violence. The connection of black to criminality and

dangerous leads the governmental reluctance in responding to the disaster of hurricane Katrina

because the population of New Orleans is mainly African Americans.

In addition to Holtzman and Sharpe’s theories on race, the authors believe that the

modern society is a post-racial society where youths are becoming friends, rather than

discriminating each other based on the color of one’s skin. Even outside of the frame of

reference constructed under the government institutions, such as, education, employment,

healthcare system, housing, bank, and criminal justice, discrimination based on race and

ethnicity has become a social norm of what it means to be American, Holtzman and Sharpe

argue. Racism has become an idea of the social norms that is now a part of jokes, slurs, and other

racial stereotypes that has been accepted by the society. The unconscious belief on one being

better than the other is not strange because the society values one character over the other.

A counter argument that Harris and Carbado offer in contrast to mainstream media

depictions of race is that “most whites were able to see black people as victims” (Harris and

Carbado, 626). Unlike the media idea that blacks are not victims, but criminals based on the

usage of words like “loot,” many white people accept that blacks are victims of the destructive

hurricane Katrina. According to Harris and Carbado, black people are not only victims of the

natural disaster, but more importantly, they are victims of the bureaucracy that occur in the city

of the New Orleans that has great influence in the mainstream media.
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Works Cited

Harris, Cheryl I. and Carbado, Devon W. “Loot or Find: Fact or Frame.” Created Equal.

Holtzman, Linda, and Leon Sharpe. “Theories and Constructs of Race.” Enron: What Caused the

Ethical Collapse, This Is Calabash,

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