See The Photos: Controversial Artist Reverses The Roles Of America’s Race History

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The race struggle, still prominent in the United States (US) today, dates back to many years ago. Even in the American War of Independence, it is said that blacks were not considered to be an integral part of the Continental Army that resisted British imperial rule, winning independence and creating the modern day US.

Since then, the country has witnessed many incidents between blacks and whites. The formation of the Civil Rights Movement and the subsequent killing of its leader, Martin Luther King Junior, to the more recent killings of many unarmed black men. This has ultimately sparked an old debate about, how will these prominent race issues impact the fate and future of the country?

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To put this in a context, an artist and photographer from Jacksonville, Florida, who is only known by his first name, Shields, has released very controversial and, to some extent, confusing images about the race struggle in the US. His images depict black people as the aggressors, oppressing white people. Quite simply, he has reversed the reality in which we live in today.

Shields admitted, in an interview with the mic.com, that even his own artist colleagues have told him that the images are so loaded with painful iconography, that they worry how viewers will react to it.

It was too much for them. I have a photographer friend who looked at the image and freaked out. You can’t put this out there. It’s too crazy. It’s too much. They kept telling me, people are going to ask you too many questions,” he said.

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But for Shields, none of these concerns voiced by his colleagues worry him. He expressed firm conviction that the challenge of disseminating images like this, lies precisely in not having an exact explanation for what they signify. He then added that he never follows what the press reports on the current race struggle in the US, as he has a traditional way of obtaining his information.

A lot of artists want an exact statement for everything they do. But I never want to not create something because I’m afraid of what it might say. I live in my own world. I try to get my news the old-fashioned way, through word of mouth. So when it finally gets to me, it’s usually already a big story,” Shields said confidently.

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Shields said he had began working on the images months before the August 2014 killing of Michael Brown, in Ferguson, Missouri and has named it Historical Fiction, with the aim of telling people ‘to do onto others what they want others to do onto them’.

One of the first things I thought about was that people are very quick to do whatever they want to other people, no matter how fucked up. It’s like, OK, you like to hang black people. That’s fucking disgusting. But if someone did that to them? Agh! It’s the craziest thing. They can’t handle it. So in a sense, the clearest takeaway from Historical Fiction is you shouldn’t do it if you can’t handle it being done to you,” he added.

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For observers, the question is, how would viewers react if he presented black people as perpetrators of the violence they have suffered from throughout history?

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But for Shields, whether you love it, hate it, don’t understand it, or feel inclined to dismiss it, the potency of the images he’s created is undeniable. The statement they’re making might not be obvious, even to him. And that’s exactly how he likes it. That is the beauty of using photos to tell a story. Whether they reflect the reality on the ground or not. What do you think is the exact meaning of these images? Share with us your opinion!


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25 COMMENTS

  1. if people knew the real history of the American revolution, say the first person who died at the Boston massacre was a free black man, and those that served in the colonial army.contrary to current notions, and altered history book which make no mention of African Americans serving in congress in the 1860s, even a African American speaker of the house in i think 1866.

    • INFACT THE U.S. GOVERNMENT ACTUALLY MADE A STAMP IN HIS HONOR. STRANGE HOW NO DIALOG WAS BEGAN BACK THEN…. MOST OF THE GREEN MOUNTAIN BOYS WERE BLACK MEN WITH GUNS…. IN FACT SEVERAL BLACK REVOLUTIONARIES WERE HONORED WITH STAMPS. UNFORTUNATELY, NO DEMOCRAT BLACKLEADERS SAW A NECESSITY OF STARTING A DIALOG ON SUCH THINGS.

  2. His name is known… actually, Tyler Shields is a very well known photographer. They even use his whole name in the MIC article. Great work, thanks for sharing it.

  3. Oh boy… “Months before Ferguson…” Right… I wonder why he made all the cops white?… Or how come there aren’t any of a middle aged black man killing a young Mexican boy… Right… It’s minorities against white… I forgot… All of a sudden I’m a huge ads cause of my skin color… And I can’t change it… It’s not my fault… But not all whites are bad… Someone hurry up and give this artist the award he clearly deserves for promoting higher thought

    • White people have a white privilege weather they like it or not. I am white by the way.

      http://alittlemoresauce.com/2014/08/20/what-my-bike-has-taught-me-about-white-privilege/

      That article might help you understand it a bit more if you don’t already.
      Putting the officers as white people isn’ saying all white people are bad but white people need to accept that they don’t know what it’s like for minorities…and they don’t understand what african american people have been through. Sure you can sympathise and try and empathise but you can’t truly understand because you have never been in their position.

    • Man they are white for a reason. Not because we are all targets. It’s to make a point it’s somehow more impactful. It’s true it is but it shouldn’t be. If a white cop gets a little more nervous around a black criminal that’s an unfortunate reality of our society. When he pulls the trigger though. The same laws must apply. Some police are out of control. The public has lost faith. No one can claim minorities are not feeling the brunt. Also it would be a lie to say that if these victims were white educated and from a different social class that reactions would be the same

  4. History is written by the victors, maybee we should let the losers write it. It would give a more honest view of history i think.

    • The issue there is throughout history many of the losers have been slaughtered, many of the losers have been unable to write the history books, the obvious contradiction to the rule is jewish people in WW2, anne franks diary, the many jewish writers who left their marks through history books… although in the end they also won, after many were slaughtered the jewish prisoners were freed and liberated.

      • There is something to this. History is still written by the victors. The Jews are responsible for their own atrocities. The main difference is who now controls the media.

  5. Everybody likes to go white, black, Latino and so forth. The truely massacred and segregated were the native Americans. So much so they almost never even get a mention. Yet all of America ( and I mean from Alaska to Patagonia ) is living on their land. The fact Andrew Jackson is on a bill is wrong, he kicked out ALL the natives from the south.

  6. I’d like to see Shields take some photographs of oil and gas CEOs drenched in the oil spills they’re responsible for. This “reversed” art may be a new movement. I study and act against racism in America, and there is something in these photos that needs to be said–I’m not quite sure what it is, but it deserves our attention.

  7. The message in this collection of photos is so simple and very clear to me. Pearl Buckley said it best: “There is only one race. The human race.” We fail as the human family whenever we do not recognize, acknowledge and respect the humanity in others. Period. Time to evolve.

  8. Thanks for your posting. I also think laptop computers are getting to be more and more popular nowadays, and now are often the only sort of computer included in a household. This is because at the same time that they’re becoming more and more reasonably priced, their processing power keeps growing to the point where these are as effective as desktop computers coming from just a few years back.

  9. First slaves were white and not black. Do your homework. There is no white privilage nor is there black privalige… that is know of. Men will help men… woman will help woman… children will help children… whites will help whites… and black will help blacks… its called human nature and has nothing to do with racism

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