Images of Katrina and the Black Criminal: Finding vs Looting

One of the most common images shown on the news during Hurricane Katrina was the image of the black man, woman, or group leaving an abandoned store, perhaps waist-deep in water, with goods that they presumably did not pay for. While in most cases, it was found that these men and women were taking supplies that they actually needed for survival and hygiene, such as food and toilet paper, the American news media sought to portray these people as “looters” epitomizing the white view of the black criminal, and thus portraying these black victims as undeserving of aid.

We can see this evidenced in the inconsistency of captions when labeling the people in these images as “looters”. As you can see in the pictures and captions from the two media sources above, when a black man was seen with items from a store it was labeled as “looting”, but when white couple is seen in the same exact situation, it is labeled as “finding.” From these two images and the classification of each it can be seen how the American media racially framed its coverage and subsequently provided the public with a very inaccurate portrayal of these Black victims. Not only did these images┬áserve to perpetuate the stereotype of the Black felon in the minds of white americans, but this criminalization was incredibly detrimental to the aid response for these victims at a time when the support of their country and government was needed the most. Do you think images such as these postponed aid to Katrina victims and set the overall tone of American indifference on the flood?


4 thoughts on “Images of Katrina and the Black Criminal: Finding vs Looting

  1. It is sad to once again see how the media tries to perpetuate a negative image of blacks but keeps whites superior. Because the black victims are called looters makes others unsympathetic to them, taking away from the fact that they needed these supplies to survive because they were neglected in the first place. I think the descriptions helped influence outside observers about who they thought should be helped, and created animosity against the blacks because of an incorrect connotation. So even at their most desperate need of help, they were unfairly disadvantaged.

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