Outside Looking In


Racism Picture

Title: Outside Looking In

Creator: Gordon Parks


Date: September 1956

Location: Mobile, Alabama


Format: Photograph


Originally Published: LIFE Magazine September 24, 1956

Link: http://books.google.com/books?id=70cEAAAAMBAJ&lpg=PP1&pg=PA106#v=twopage&q&f=false

Gordon Parks intended this image to pull strong emotions from the viewer, and he succeeded. When I see this image, I’m immediately empathetic for the children in this photo. They are just children, after all, who are hurt by the actions of others over whom they have no control. They did nothing to deserve the exclusion, the hate, or the sorrow; all they did was merely exist. 

We should all look at this picture in order to see what these children went through as a result of segregation and racism. There is a barrier between the white children and the black, both physically in the fence and figuratively. Look at what the white children have, an extremely nice park, and even a Ferris wheel! Meanwhile, the black children look on wistfully behind a fence with overgrown weeds. What’s important to take away from this image nowadays is that although we may not have physical segregation, racism and hate are still around, not only towards the black population, but many others. We see the exclusion that society put the kids through, and hopefully through this we can recognize suffering in the world around us to try to prevent it. 



7 thoughts on “Outside Looking In”

  1. You can also relate this back to public housing and how it separates poor minorities and middle class, white America. Even though this program wasn’t intended to bring inequality, it actually provided more stereotypes towards African Americans.

  2. I believe that this image is extremely powerful. These black children are looking into, what I assume to be, a safe haven. There is clearly a separation between them and something unknown. From just looking at this picture and nothing else it is impossible to assume the significance of this. However, in context, I begin to believe that they are looking into to somewhere that they cannot go. I agree with the comment before and the original. I think that although this was taken in the mid-50’s it transcends time. These separations are definitely still going on to this day, done less obviously, of course.

  3. Agreeing with the previous two comments, this photo seems to be advocating for the equality. These children are portrayed are being perfectly normal, they have clean and appropriate clothing, and their body language suggests a close bond. And yet they’re being kept out of a facility of equal status just because of their skin color.

  4. I also agree with the previous comments that this photo advocates for equality. I also think that the caption “Outside Looking In” explains how the children feel as well. The six children are restricted to their portion of the grass which adds to them feeling helpless and useless as they look at the neighboring house being burned away. If they wanted to help they would not even be able to because of the physical and figurative barriers.

  5. Although I do see an obvious push for equality in this photo, I also see another message of contentment. On the “inside” of the fence there is all of these material possessions and things that would look extremely appealing to a child, however it seems that no one is using them. On the “outside” of the fence on the left you see a small rose on the side of the children. I think this gives the message of the 1950’s that even throughout all of the discrimination of african americans, the contentment of the black population was still way above what the white middle class families experienced.

  6. This photo reminds me of the the countless individuals and families that have been deported from the United States and are currently unable to ever enter the country through legal means again. This photo depicts children looking at a playground they can not enter because of a fence. In the issue of immigration it can be children (born in the US) looking at there parents on the other side of a fence because they have been deported for not having the proper paperwork.

  7. Thankfully the evils in this image are gone from society today in America. However, a similar and no less awful evil remains. Blacks and whites may interact however they wish with no fear of repercussion, but implicit racism is still present. Subtle actions can be just as damaging as direct actions, and until they leave our society we cannot be truly equal.

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