Cinematically, the prenup shoot of Billy Crawford and Coleen Garcia is undeniably beautiful. However, a closer look at the shots would suggest that it is rather culturally insensitive than something that recognizes the beauty of the Ethiopian people.
Indigenous peoples around the world have had a long history of struggle against colonization and discrimination. For other cultures, they are regarded as inferior. But the tides have changed, and new discourses that demand equality regardless of origin have been the new battlecry for many advocates of indigenous peoples rights.
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But the Billy Crawford and Coleen Garcia prenup shoot takes us back to the dark ages when the wealthy takes advantage of the weakness of the African culture. The prenup photos suggest that the couple is too superior that they can use Ethiopian people as backdrop to emphasize their grandeur even further.
Ethipioans, like many other African cultural groups, have a history as old as mankind. Their culture is so rich that it can be studied in many different ways. But photoshoots like that of Billy Crawford and Coleen Garcia diminishes this fact by casting these people as mere shadows; as backdrop; as something only worthy of the margins.
There comes the issue of marginalization. By placing the Ethiopians on the margins only affirms the idea that they have no other place other than the margins where they are categorically placed. With the many struggles people of color face, putting them further in the margins especially in a high profile photoshoot only advances the problem.
People have already turned a blind eye on the systemic problems marginalized people face. For some, it is no longer relatable to hear their problems and cries. This, in turn, makes it difficult for some to help the marginally displaced advocate their plight.
If the Billy Crawford and Coleen Garcia wanted to include the Ethiopians in their celebration, they could have angled the concept of their photoshoot as if they are immersing with the culture.
But it’s not how it looks. It’s a form of othering where the more superior class looks at the other class in a more inferior position as people not part of the mainstream festivity. It’s as if looking at the Ethiopian people as another entity, not belonging to some culturally shared experiences that makes them different from our own common beliefs.
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While it may appear as blowing the issue out of proportion, the ideological effect of such artistic expressions only makes the situation more difficult for the marginalized and the oppressed. Such artistic portrayal only puts them in a situation where they are viewed as really just people of the margins. It also only trivializes the peoples’ struggles, for such photoshoot does not, in any manner, address their issues.
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In this day and age when everbody must take part in the struggle for equality and liberation, an elitist photoshoot like that of Billy Crawford and Coleen Garcia is the last thing the world needs. We are hand in hand in addressing the issues of the powerless. Thus, in everything we do, a bit of sensitivity is throughly required.