, 19 tweets, 5 min read Read on Twitter
Following the pictures by the New York Times on the #RiversideAttack in Kenya, questions have been raised on the representation of black bodies in death. More importantly, how the Western media covers the death of Africans during crisis like the #DusitAttack in Kenya
The New York Times published gory pictures of dead Kenyans who were victims of a terrorist attack. It was less than 24 hours after the attack that the pictures were published as the feature image of the New York Times article. Kenyans were still in mourning and shock from the
attack. Kenyans on Twitter raised ethical, moral and philosophical questions on the publishing and protection of the dignity and sanctity of those who had just died. Their singular demand to the @nytimes was to pull down the pictures. A demand the New York Times is yet to heed.
Although one won't want to make this issue a race issue, one can't help but notice that the Western media never publishes dead white bodies strewn all over. As if the sanctity and dignity of a white body must be kept intact but the value of a black body remains valueless in death
Critics have argued that the black body has served as an ornament of display to white people. During slavery the bodies of black people were not given much respect, often displayed as goods to be traded for the economic benefit of white slave owners, even in colonial times.
The case of Sarah Baartman who was taken from South Africa and displayed to Europeans (even her remains were exhibited under the guise that her corpse was of special scientific interest), is a good example of the undignified manner black bodies have been treated.
The same case happened with Ota Benga, a Congolese boy that was kidnapped & displayed at a zoo in the US in 1906, where he was exhibited with monkeys. The @nytimes played the role of amplifying his presence with the headline, “Bushman Shares a Cage With Bronx Park Apes.”
One could argue that the editors back then are different from the current editors, however it's important to note the foundation upon which an institution like The New York Times amongst other Western media houses have been built on. Their role was to feed a white audience.
An African-American minister, Reverend James H Gordon was angry at the treatment Benga experienced & led a group of ministers to the zoo. He said, “We are frank enough to say we do not like this exhibition of one of our own race with the monkeys. Our race, we think, is depressed
enough, without exhibiting one of us with apes. We think we are worthy of being considered human beings, with souls.”
It is interesting to note that Reverend Gordon’s protest was met with dismay by the editors of The New York Times who had first published about Benga.
The editors of The New York Times, as reported by The Guardian said, “We do not quite understand all the emotion which others are expressing in the matter. Ota Benga, according to our information, is a normal specimen of his race or tribe, with a brain as much developed as are
those of its other members. Whether they are held to be illustrations of arrested development, and really closer to the anthropoid apes than the other African savages, or whether they are viewed as the degenerate descendants of ordinary negroes, they are of equal interest to the
student of ethnology, and can be studied with profit.” 
To quote The Guardian, “The editorial said it was absurd to imagine Benga’s suffering or humiliation.”
How does the New York Times of 1906 stand in comparison to the New York Times of 2019?
In its defence on publishing the disrespectful pictures of victims of the #RiversideAttack,  The New York Times stated, “We want to be respectful to the victims and to others affected by the attack. But we also believe it is important to give our readers a clear picture of an
attack like this. This includes showing pictures that are not sensationalised but that give a real sense of the situation.”
These pictures are part of the performance the white media has subjected black bodies to. While victims of Charlie Hebdo, knife attacks in London & even the
9/11 Twin Towers terrorist attack were not pictured, it brings into question why the display of black pain & trauma is brazenly shared.
The pictorial standards @nytimes uses for reporting these crises in Africa is overwhelmingly different from those applied in reporting the same
crises in Europe and America.  In 2019, it is unfortunate that we have to scream to The New York Times the words of Reverend Gordon, “We think we  are worthy of being considered human beings, with souls.”
While the New York Times is the main focus of this conversation, the larger
conversation involves the entire Western media which for a long time has continued to misrepresent the continent, both in the stories it tells and in the pictures they use in trying to define us. Most importantly, this is a clarion call to African writers, artists, musicians,
academics, photographers, and everybody. While we demand our dignity, we must also tell our own stories properly!
Hopefully #KOT will sustain the pressure to get the New York Times to pull down those pictures.

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