The Stock Dilemma

Been a lot going on lately, no? It’s to the point where we almost feel pressured to post something like all those CEOs of giant corporations have about how we here at You&Me think racism is bad. Well, we may be going out on a shocking limb here, but we here at You&Me do think racism is bad. We are also aware that it exists and has existed prior to 2020.

One interesting way that that does impact our site, is in our selection of stock photos. Over the past few years, we have mostly used images without people in them to illustrate our articles. We have done that for two main reasons, that in fact, do relate directly to racism and prejudice.

The first reason is that we wish to be inclusive, and not exclude readers by indicating that a certain story can only apply to a certain race, ethnicity, age or gender. The second, sadder reason is that if we illustrate a story with a picture showing a stock model of non-majority (in the US this means not “white,”) appearance than we fear we might be seen as implying that people of that ethnicity are the ones that suffer from this condition, and that some readers might thus think that members of this group are damaged or inferior in some way.

This is not a perfect solution. Are we pandering to the subtler forms of racism (and other “isms”) that pervade most societies? Are we inadvertently practicing a form of erasure? When a story does focus on the impact of gender, race or ethnicity on a medical situation, we might select a stock photo that reflects that, but we are aware that many readers, at least in the US, will assume that everyone involved is “white,” unless specifically signified otherwise.

It’s something that we will continue to think about going forward. It’s another illustration of how “race,” an artificial designation invented in the 19th century and which has no basis in any biological reality impacts our current reality daily in so many ways both overt and covert.

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