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Yesica S. Mena

Instructor Kat King

English 1A

October 13, 2018

Short Essay #4: “Loot or Find: Fact or Tramp” by Cheryl I. Harris and Devon W. Carbado

In the essay, “Loot or Find: Fact or Tramp”, the authors Cheryl I. Harris and Devon W.

Carbado report that in American society there exists some “frames” embedded in our

subconscious that pre-disposes us to assume that the African American people has a propensity

to commit criminal activities more frequently, and, as a consequence, society treats them as a

group of less importance. The authors state that the way we analyze facts are even more

important than the facts themselves because those “frames” shape our judgment. Harris and

Carbado explain that society tends to believe that race is not a determining factor in our

responses; they use the term “color blindness” to name this behavior of assuming that all racial

problemes were solved with the Civil Right movement and rejecting racism as a common

occurrence, and, as a result, we justify our actions with something other than racism; we blame it

on the Black community‘s behavior. The authors express that Hurricane Katrina, in New

Orleans, was a good opportunity to question ourselves about racial inequalities that sometime

was veiled by color blindness; when the whole country witnesses how the majority of the victims

of that natural disaster were black poor Americans left behind by the government as if they were

irrelevant. Harris and Carbado state that even though some concerns raised up about this

situation observed in New Orleans, for the majority of the white people in America, race wasn’t

a factor to explain the lack of help to the Black community in that desperate situation displaying
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how color blindness lets us see their suffering, but prevents us from connect that suffering to

racism. The authors claim that for us, is easy to process the idea of a black person committing a

crime. They use the example of the controversy over two images displaying the exact same

action where the photo of the black man was presented like if he was “looting” a store for food

while the photo of white people described they as “finding” food, both of them in the aftermath

of Katrina. Harris and Carbado expand their argument explaining how these assumptions

contributed to the creation of the stereotype of black criminality. The authors explain that those

beliefs added to the notion of “law and order”, were responsible for how the government

responded to the Katrina events; they claim that the reports of violence perpetrated by African

Americas were exaggerated, and, at the same time, crimes against them were underreported. The

authors report that this intricate situation allows to perceive the Black community as

predominantly violent, but not like victims of that violence. Harris and Carbado conclude that,

based on the events, facts can depict a situation, but not always can explain it because, as a

society, the frames of color blindness, law and order and black criminality shape our judgment

even before we receive those facts, and that we need to look outside those frames to have a better

understanding and change the racial problematic in America.

I agree with the argument put forward by Harris and Carbado about the frames that pre-

dispose us to make judgments without investigating the facts presented to us, especially when a

racial group is concerned. The authors reflect about how the disaster inflicted by Hurricane

Katrina in New Orleans, especially in the poor areas inhabited vastly by African Americans, was

a good example on how those frames influenced the way the government response to the events,

and how the whole situation was depicted to the American society in order to justify that

response. We can still see that same behavior every day now; since the frequent accusations of
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police brutality exerted on members of minority groups, to the effort of the media to justify those

abuses appealing to the stereotype of criminality that surround the members of those

communities. In the essay, Harris and Carbado show how American society, dominated mostly

by white people, fails to associate their response with the racism that still exist and they deny.

These ideas coincide with the argument displayed in “The Case for Reparations” by Ta’Nehisi

Coates where he describe how Black communities where forced to live on poor areas with high

crime rates due to the redlining policies from government, and this situation condemns them to

be the victims of that violence that American society deplores, but does not allow them to