Sunday, August 30, 2009

dogs of mississippi, 2009

* Also see dogs of mississippi, 1947

From "A World Away, Close to Family," a New York Times piece on African American city kids who spend their summers with relatives in the South (story by Robbie Brown, photos by James Patterson):

The sight of a menacing dog outside her Brooklyn apartment would send Amya CaJoie Stewart skittering inside for safety. But not the Rottweiler that prowled the gravel road at her aunt’s house in this sun-cooked rural town. In a flash of bravado, the prim 10-year-old lured the dog with a dish of water, lashed it to a post and named it Sam.

“That’s what you do in Mississippi,” Amya explained. “You tie the dogs in your yard.”

* * *

The matriarch of the family, Estella Mae Oaties, 81, supervises Amya during the day. Behind her house, she keeps several dogs as pets, and it is Amya's job to feed and water them. When she grows up, Amya says, she might want to become a veterinarian.

dogs of mississippi, 1947

* Also see dogs of mississippi, 2009

William Faulkner and his fyces (photo by Henri Cartier-Bresson, courtesy of Iconic Photos)

Sunday, August 2, 2009

more eyes that have looked at jim crow

Just looked again at the photographs in my previous post about the early-20th century African American photographer Michael Francis Blake - was struck, suddenly, by the strange elision of dogs in that post. When I talked about the "eyes that have looked at Jim Crow," I was implicitly talking only of the eyes of the human beings in the pictures. Is it nonsensical to think of the dogs as also having witnessed segregation? To ask what racism among humans look like to dog - or perhaps, more apropos, what it smelt and felt like?