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In-Depth Analysis: A Critical Look At Civil Unrest & the Big Picture

A typical phrase— “A picture is worth a thousand words.”

Again, typical, but it is true. Photography is an essential method of storytelling, providing visuals to captivate the viewer. Furthermore, the story behind the image allows the viewer to elaborate and reflect on his or her own emotions and idea of the image itself. The image I have chosen to analyze shows a glimpse of the civil unrest within the United States in response to the death of George Floyd. In this particular image, a group of protestors is gathered near a burning barricade near the White House during a demonstration against Floyd’s death. As mentioned, within the image, there is a large group of people gathered together during the demonstration. Though a specific number of people was not determined, it appears to be more than forty or fifty people within the image. Also, everyone within the image is wearing either a mask or a face covering, indicating that the demonstration took place during the coronavirus pandemic, a time when wearing masks was—and still is—a mandatory health precaution, especially within public gatherings.

The first things that can be spotted within the image are the four protestors who separate themselves from the crowd while protesting along with the other protestors. The protestor to the far right is standing close to the fire at the barricade while also stomping at the debris on the ground. One of the protestors in the center is standing away from the fire but is also stomping at a sign on the ground while another protestor stands by his side. The protestor to the left has his face covered and is facing in the direction of the crowd, and appears to be yelling to encourage the crowd during the demonstration. Across from the protestor to the left, there is a young man who appears to be holding his phone, recording the demonstration, and behind him are a few other protestors who are also holding up their phones, capturing the occurrence. Towards the back of the image on the left side, there is a monument somewhat hidden behind the trees, which is symbolic to the image since the monument most likely honors a historical figure who was important during a time when minorities suffered greatly within the United States. Therefore, knowing that systematic racism is one of the major underlying problems of society within the United States, which led to demonstrations of civil unrest, the image reflects a cultural perspective due to the symbolism of society during a particular time.

This single image captures more than just one crucial moment regarding American society. The demonstrations by protestors against police brutality are also being captured during a global pandemic, which is even more significant since people were gathering to protest racial injustice while also facing a critical virus that has killed more than 522 million US citizens, according to the CDC. These are a few of the main reasons why I was compelled to analyze this image. One of the first things that captivated me instantly from this image was the protestors. Even though the coronavirus pandemic is an ongoing problem worldwide, addressing the oppression of minorities—especially African-Americans—and police brutality is the bigger picture since human rights are at stake. Think back to the Civil Rights Movement during the 1960s. Even though the Civil Rights Act had been signed in 1964, it still did not guarantee that all human beings would be treated humanely in every situation. There is still racial profiling, there have been reports of Black men being found, hanging from trees but have been ruled as “suicides”, and there are many people of color still incarcerated on false charges. I perceive this image to be a call to action in addressing the underlying problem of minorities being slain by people of authority.

(Image credit: Source: Asia Times, Photo: AFP, 2020)

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