Seeing Is Believing
Carpenter Associate Professor of Feminist Theology
Photographs generate storylines. The very same photograph can “move”
viewers—emotionally and to take action—in very different ways. On February 6,
2012, Trayvon Martin (age 17) was walking through a mostly white neighborhood
in Sanford, FL, in his gray hoodie when he was confronted and ultimately killed
by George Zimmerman, who successfully used Florida’s “Stand Your Ground”
law in his defense against murder charges. Martin’s death prompted the founding
of #blacklivesmatter and inspired Dylann Roof to embrace white supremacy and
ultimately to try to start a “race war” by killing eight members of “Mother
Emmanuel” A.M.E. Church in Charleston, SC, on June 17, 2015. Roof’s actions,
in turn, helped inspire a 28-year-old Australian white supremacist to murder 50+
worshippers at a mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, on March 18, 2019.
Attending thoughtfully and deliberately to how photographs move us—especially
in our visually saturated social media “bubbles”—is crucial to living well together.