Andres Serrano: The Thickness of Racism

17 October 2019

In a manner of speaking. I photographed these people after the moment of death. I never knew them as human beings. I never knew what languages they spoke, what their religious or political beliefs were, how much money they had, or who they loved. All I know about them is the cause of death. And, as they say, you cannot judge a book by its cover. The woman you referred to as not knowing whether she was actually black, is a bleached blonde, brown-skinned woman. She’s a black woman. But she’s been in the morgue for over two months because she’s a Jane Doe, and as a result, she’s starting to decompose and if you look really closely, there are patches of white skin. I asked the doctor and he confirmed that there is white skin under black skin. A teacher of his once took a very thin slice of skin off a cadaver and showed it to his students and said, “This is the thickness of racism.”

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