I was offended by, but not surprised at, the recent cover photograph used for a story on why Durham's "so scary" (May 24). Like the readers whose letters were published May 31, I thought the image was racist and cheap. More troubling, though, was the response of your editor, Richard Hart (Up Front, May 31).
Instead of engaging with the criticisms of readers who were offended by the photo's clear and stereotypical association of black male youth with blood (and also mysticism), Hart chastised them for not "getting it" (apparently, what he considers the clever use of the photo to illustrate how we often misperceive innocent images).
This case is similar to the recent controversy involving the publication of cartoons offensive to Islam in local, national and international papers. Many of these papers justified their decision on the grounds that it was "provoking debate." Like them, the Independent is trying to have it both ways: trading in racist imagery while also using the ensuing criticism to argue that it stands outside that (i.e., that it is not racist).
While the Independent is usually a more alternative option to the other local media in the Triangle, this case illustrates that it is definitely not "progressive."