Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Day 12 - Squatter dilemma

Louisville, Kentucky:

Just had my first meal of the day at the Waffle House adjacent to my motel. I can't tell you if the food was good because my eyes were too busy drinking the inhabitants of the restaurant. There was the haggard waitress, shirt and apron stained like my windshield after a rain of insects. The cook could stand to eat himself with his emaciated body and curved back. Then there was me, non-white with pustules on my face after breaking out in recent days, and a woman who trudged in five minutes after I did. The customer was bleached blonde but bordering on the yellow on some parts. The left side of her face was an angry purple, blue, and pink. She'd been beaten.

I was at the saddest place on earth. You know the famous image of Elvis, Monroe, Dean, etc. hanging out at a diner. Well there we were, the polar opposite of the poster. I've taken pains not to photograph scenes of poverty and distress in my Southern journey. I don't want to present them like Depression pictures so people can say, "Oooh! Check out how the other half lives."

I'd surely like to. I'd taken enough of that kind of pictures in the countries I'd been to and felt ashamed afterward. The farthest thing from my mind is to depict certain people as pathetic, poor, ill, whathaveyou. I'm not a photojournalist. I'm nothing. We all know how inequality razes our country. We all know that blacks and Latinos get the worse end of it. But for me to take their picture just to have something controversial later to talk about with friends, then traveling through the South would leave me guilty.

I'd like for people to show their bruises on their own terms.

No comments: