Friday, January 1, 2016

No Stopping Any Time: pictures of downtown Cleveland 2001

Today I read the news story saying that the policeman who shot Tamir Rice, a 12 year old boy holding a pellet gun, would not be charged with a crime. Tamir Rice was black: the police officer was white.

Racism is completely visible in America: you're just not supposed to talk about it. In 2001 I spent a couple of days in downtown Cleveland. Fascinated by its unfamiliar-to-me architecture, I took a point-and-shoot camera and starting taking pictures. And what was one of the first things I noticed? Quoting myself:

"[...] racial segregation is omnipresent in this area. Without exception, every person who I saw working as a waiter or waitress in a restaurant, working at the desk of a hotel, or walking in a suit to the courthouse was white. With only two exceptions, every person working in maintenance or cleaning rooms at a hotel, working a minimum-wage job at a fast food or drugstore counter, or homeless or begging on a streetcorner was black."

I've lived in D.C., L.A., and a few other places and I've never seen that level of occupational racial segregation anywhere else. And it seems pretty clear that that's going to produce shootings like this.

I've gotten nasty Email from all sorts over the years, but one classic insulting rant was from someone who felt that I was dissing Cleveland when I made that observation on a Web site. I shrugged and deleted his Email: too bad, because it would be fitting to quote it now.

At any rate, I think those pictures have held up fairly well, given the limitations of the technology I was working with. Here's a photo exhibition called No Stopping Any Time: downtown Cleveland as I saw it, complete with mock medieval fortifications, Buck Rogers defense zones, and a statue in front of a bank holding up a severed hand: