Saturday, May 11, 2013

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words...



A coworker recently sent me the link to the story of this picture. It’s a picture of a Klan-robed toddler expressing curiosity about the riot shield of an African-American state trooper during a Klan rally in Georgia in 1992. The photographer who captured this image (Todd Robertson) has never been able to find out who the boy was. To this day it remains a mystery.

Here is an innocent toddler that has no concept whatsoever of hate or prejudice. Ever since I saw the picture, I have been filled with so many emotions and questions.  What is going through the mind of the State Trooper in this picture? What became of this little boy? Did he grow up with hate in his heart? Did he even have a chance?
What goes through your mind when seeing this picture?

140 comments:

  1. Hard to believe that is 1992. Wow. Words truly fail me here.

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  2. I feel sad, angry, even plain irritated. Some adult actually bothered to make that costume for the child; the person and his or her friends may even have said, "Aww, how cute!" Growing up in such an environment, I imagine he had a very small chance indeed. Unless somewhere along the way, he had some sort of epiphany -- perhaps education, religion, or just some wise, kind soul came along and enlightened him. We can hope.

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  3. It says to me that a child's innocence sees no boundaries, no differences, no hate.
    We can only pray that child grew up and grew beyond the limits of his parents' minds.

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  4. Oh Keith this just makes me extremely sad nI cannot believe there is so much hate in this beautiful world we live and the innocence of a child is being exploited.Now I am mad. B

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  5. I feel sad and angry that a parent could do this to a child. I pray this innocent toddler grew up without hate in his heart.

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  6. It is very sad to see that parents force a child into such a role, teaching them prejudice when they themselves are innocent of prejudice. Some parents do not deserve children.

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  7. WOW... That is some picture. You named it ..... worth a thousand words.The little kid would now be 21. Wonder what he thought if he found this in the family album.

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  8. wow 1992, i wonder if the klan clothes come in toddler size or if the parents made that especially because that is just weird either way

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  9. This is simply heart-breaking. It is so sad that any child grows up in such an environment of hatred that at such a young age his parents dress him in that garb - I also feel sad for the men watching & working at this rally - to know that people would raise their child to hate you when clearly there is nothing in the child to hate from the beginning is so sad.

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  10. Reminds me of the children suicide bombers the Taliban are using. All in the name of God and self righteousness!

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  11. Everything about that is so wrong, how awful to put an innocent child in that suit and that position. I also wonder what is going through the mind oft he state trooper. I bet he felt deeply sad. I know I do.

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  12. such a shame, judging by the date he should be at least in college by now

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  13. Sad for all the hate in the world...sad and angry for the injustices done to innocent children. This is wrong on so many levels...

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  14. Know nothing about the picture, but it certainly fills me with some kinda dismay and lending me the shortage of words ..

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  15. What a powerful image. I sincerely hope that the boy grew up to love everyone and not have hate in his heart. But it would be hard to break out of the mindset of being prejudice if that's what he was taught his whole life.

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  16. It makes me sad that that group still exists .... but at the same time, I am in awe of the little toddler. He/she is just being their natural instinctive child-like self. Children at that age are naturally curious about EVERYTHING! Colors, textures, sights, sounds, Police shields .... sad thing is, he/she probably grew up hating way too many things as that was what he/she was taught ....

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  17. The picture makes me feel outrage that an innocent child is dressed in such a hateful costume. I hope the child grew up with a mind of his own, filled with tolerance, love and understanding for his fellow man...

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  18. I see parents that aren't teaching their children love. I see a state trooper that is thinking the same thing. This type of thing needs to stop and on both side, not just one side. There is hate in every race of people. If we could wash that away the world would be such a lovely place.

    Have a terrific day. ☺

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  19. The thing that goes through my mind when I see this image is how sorry I feel for this child being born into a family of hate. Children are blank slates when they're born, ready and willing to embrace everyone with an open heart, and without prejudice. This is a very profound image.

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  20. Oh gosh - what a bittersweet shot. Such innocence, yet such evil too, waiting to be taught...

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  21. What a great photo. I, too, wonder if that little boy grew to have hatred in his heart.

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  22. How very sad that a child is dressed in this way! I can just imagine what kind of environment that child has had for his growth! Such a shame!

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  23. I really like this photo. I hope too that this little boy didn't grow up with hate.

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  24. I have seen this photo before....still no change in my reaction to it...totally speechless. I got nothin'.

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  25. What a photo! Personally, I think it is a shame that parents would raise their child with so much hatred. I hope the child grew up with a mind of his own and one not so full of hate.

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  26. dang man....i must have missed this one before...its a bit chilling actually...that a child was being taught the hate which is not its nature...its nature is the curiousity....chilling man...

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  27. Seen this a while back, pathetic indeed, hopefully the child rose above it.

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  28. I've seen this photo before and it's extremely disturbing to see what demented parents can do to an innocent child.

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  29. Truly a stunning image in every way. I see a slight smile on the trooper's face....I would imagine he feels compassion for that poor little soul.
    There is so much work to be done in this world of ours. Crazy that it's from 1992.
    I hope with all my heart that the child breaks out of the hatred and fear...

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  30. What goes through my mind? Horror.

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  31. Wow... somehow I've never seen this. What goes through my mind is the same thing that goes through my mind every day at work when I hear 3-year-old children ask questions they shouldn't have to ask or hear them say words they shouldn't even know and that's how important it is for us as adults and especially for those of us who are teachers to instill kindness, humility and tolerance in our future generations. I can't imagine the police officer looked at that baby and saw anything other than a baby, honestly. It's not his fault. Hopefully he grew up in a society that taught him life is very different than his parents believed.

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  32. it makes me sad...the trooper seems to be just thinking the kid is cute, which he is.

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  33. I have seen this before. It is a stark reminder that the power of parenting is something we must not ever neglect. A big part of that is actual relationship and not indoctrination...much as it should in our relationship with God and each other. If things aren't like that something else will take the place of relationship that makes a parody of what it's supposed to be.

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  34. this photo makes me feel ill Keith. Even crazies should have a crumb of decency to leave children alone but they often don't. Very disturbing.

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  35. Sad, it makes me feel sad. Hopefully that child recalls the kind face of that trooper.

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  36. Tears welled up in my eyes when I saw this photo Keith. Children being taught to hate at such a young age breaks my heart.

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  37. WOW, that hits me like a bullet to the heart. 1992? Really? I am disturbed a parent could spoon feed a child fear and hate. I send them all love and healing.

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  38. Appalling, the picture says it all. An innocent being made to wear such a disgusting uniform of prejudice. I cannot believe that organisation (for want of a better word) is still in existence but it is.

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  39. An act of cowardice dressing up a child like that when they probably knew it just wouldn't be tolerated on an adult.

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  40. It makes me want to cry and I feel quite emotional.


    The innocence of childhood garbed in garments of hate. How can parents do this?

    Anna :o[

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  41. I wonder if a child that young really has any idea about race in the first place, much less racial tension. Although if they grew up around the Klan they were probably screwed up. If you get them while they're young, and fill their head with lies during their formative years, it is incredibly tough to break.

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  42. A thought provoking picture ~ The child is innocent but I am wondering why he is garbed this way, like his parents are blatantly showing their beliefs through the child ~ The policemen are doing their duty, but mindful of the crowd ~ I hope the child grows up in peace ~

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  43. The only thing that comes to mind is that there is no hate until and unless it is taught. I hope that I have the grace not to pass on my ridiculous prejudices to my children.

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  44. It's not my mind, it's my heart that hears that picture, and it's instantly pierced with a profound sadness that someone would even consider it remotely acceptable to dress their child in such an outfit, much less teach them what it represents.

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  45. It is sad that parents would pass this hatred on to their child, I hope he overcame his circumstances...

    It is a thought provoking picture Keith:)

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  46. This photo is amazing. And definitely makes me feel a million things at once, mainly sadness, but also hope that the "innocent," pure part of us all will one day win out over the tainted ego, mind-driven part of ourselves. I can only hope ...

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  47. I've seen this picture before, and it always makes me marvel at the beauty of innocence and the mystery of how any parent could feel anything but shame for dressing a child in that costume. But I have heard accounts that the mother angrily snatched the child away in the second after the photo was taken, so I guess she didn't feel shame at all ...

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  48. That's an amazing photo. So sad though. I hate that this kind of prejudice still exists strong enough for a parent to willingly dress their child like that. I hope he grew up to be a strong, independent, free thinker.

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  49. I share your questions. I believe parenting has a big role. Love and communication are important. When do kids start feeling compassion? Very early. I learned this by watching my daughter. She feels and expresses compassion for other people and animals, and I know we are going in the right direction.Take care.

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  50. All good questions you have. I feel so very sad looking at that picture.

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  51. This picture is truly mind bending!!!! It represents so many things. But my main thought is that here is a totally innocent mind. And WE have the ability to shape it. Some parents will shape a child's mind to be full of hate instead of love. Some people should not be parents. This is heart breaking.

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  52. Hi Keith,

    I have also seen this photo before. One would like to think he grew up and made his own decisions in life without the ignorance of a bigoted outlook.

    You could say that we are all influenced by our environment and how we choose to relate to it, makes us what we are. What do you think, Keith? I would love to see you comment back.

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    1. I think it's a mixture of both Gary...the old nature vs. nurture debate. Ultimately though, we are responsible for developing our own beliefs and value systems.

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  53. How absolutely crazy life can be...why all of the hatred?

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  54. This is scary to me, Keith, seeing that child dressed up in the klan "uniform." To see that innocent child swathed in the clothes of hatred is sickening. I, too, wonder about that child now. I hope he was able to break free from the hatred of whoever dressed him like that and brought him to the rally.

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  55. You're chosen a great picture because it does, as you pointed out, raise so many questions, makes us think. I noticed too that the child sees its reflection on the shield's surface.

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  56. We have evolved in spite of the Klan....the police officer is a black man, that makes me happy. I'm going to make the end of the story be that the affect of that experience was totally opposite to what that toddler's parents intended.

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  57. What goes through my mind is that we need to spend more money on education - understanding, knowledge and evidence are what we should base the world on.

    The Clan and many other influential organisation reject all three as a basis for living.

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

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  58. All I can think of is Hatred.

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  59. It could be worse. He could be a member of the Westboro Baptist Church.

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  60. I just feel so sad for that kid.

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  61. I’m speechless! An innocent touch can never harm and get harmed by others… Thanks for sharing the picture along your thought

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  62. It's crazy to think this happened so recently. It's a very sad picture on many levels, but I believe this child definitely did have a chance - it's proven in the innocence depicted in this photograph. And I continually believe in our ability to transcend. Hopefully that was the case with this child.

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  63. I've seen this picture before and the impact is just not mitigated, even when you know what to expect. Thanks for reposting, Keith.

    Also, if you have a chance, I gave you a little award over at the Coffee. http://subliminalcoffee.blogspot.com/2013/05/i-scream-social.html

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  64. "I hope that kid's head does not fill that hat"

    That's what I think

    Nice new photo btw is that your mom?

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  65. I feel like taking him out of those horrible clothes, dressing him in humanity and showing him the world as God meant it to be.

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  66. This is very sad and I have no words for the sheer hate displayed in this picture by an innocent little boy.

    On a happier note, I hope you are having a Happy Mother's Day with your family, dear friend! :)

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  67. more than a little surprised when you said the date. but then I guess I shouldn't be surprised as really this stuff still goes on today.

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  68. The grace and gentleness of the officer as he encounters a child who may grow up to hate . . .or not.

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  69. I can't help but think "what chance does that kid have". Just too sad.

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  70. Well, one of the first words (of many) that comes to my mind is "brainwashed."

    The very beginnings of it.

    Kristin

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  71. All I can think of is that lil boy has no clue. It's so sad that a child that young is subjected to that...it's almost as if the lil thing doesn't even have a choice. I think people forget that you have choices in this world. I can just picture that african american cop shaking his head in disbelief of how sad that even in 1992 all the prejudice hadn't died yet and here are these klans's men trying to make another generation of unnecessary haters. It's disheartening. I hope that lil boy grew up to be a man who knows that it was wrong to put a baby in that outfit and knows that you don't want to be on that side of the shield in a KKK rally. You should know that the right side to be on is on the cop's side. One can hope...

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  72. Wow, what a powerful image. It left me with a lot of questions, too. And a little bit of hope. Great job by the photographer!

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  73. Two of the words in a thousand that come to mind are offensive and tragic.

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  74. There's like endless possibilities out there, no matter how chaotic it may seems there still HOPE! the picture is so powerful and lots of stuff going through my head right now.. One of them is HOPE! Happy Weekend:)

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  75. I think of someone I know whose father was a member of the klan when he was a small boy... His parents divorced when he was four, so he was very young. But at that tender age, he remembers his father talking to another man about going out to kill a man for his color. He remembers thinking about what was said and wondering what was wrong with being black. He could not understand. And he grew up without a shred of prejudice in his disposition. I think it is wonderful that though children ARE so easily influenced - they are still blessed with the light of Christ and a sense of right and wrong. It is wonderful that people can choose to do right even when taught to do wrong. :)

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  76. It feels like curiousity takes the better of us, until we decide to block it with hate.

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  77. That picture gives me the willies.

    There's a scene in the movie "42" where a little boy is sitting in the stands and his father and the men around him start yelling curses and name calling at Jackie Robinson. The boy looks around confused but then starts doing the same thing even though he doesn't really know why. But then his hero on the field does something different than the men around him and you can see the boy start thinking and wondering....

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  78. That picture, above all, makes me wonder how something like that could still happen in America in the nineties. Does it still? I don't get it. I really don't.

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  79. It makes me feel so sad! Such a powerful image.

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  80. This is incredibly upsetting:( the sttenghth of parental influence on children should be used responsibly, not to further your own agenda

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  81. this is so powerful! thank you for sharing.

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  82. I just shake my head. Oh, the sad little outfit, on an innocent child. Can you imagine what his upbringing must have been like? Creating hatred and prejudice at such an early age? Horrifying!! Thank you for sharing this unbelievable image, Keith. Sigh...

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  83. Oh my. That is too awesome. It really gives you pause to consider how ridiculous prejudices can be, eh?

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  84. I notice the trooper's face, he seems to be looking at the child with a little bit of sadness but still maybe a tiny smile? I hope the child grew up and was able to shake off the prejudice of the family that he was born into. It is sad to think he didn't have a choice as to what he was taught.

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  85. Given that two of the troopers are black, what indeed could they have been thinking? I feel almost beyond emotion.

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  86. what went through my mind looking at this? I was repulsed by the idea of someone (most likely the parent) dressing an innocent child up as a KKK. Disgusting.

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  87. In this case it makes me wish parents had to go through some kind of test before having children. If that were the case, then the world would be unfair. We wouldn't be the land of the free. What's wrong in one's eyes is ok in someone else's. As a whole we need to be on the same page. I think most of us are.

    Polygamy still exists. To some it's just the way things work. To me it's pretty awful! In general older men try and get more than one young woman to marry them. It would be different if they were all at the same level in life. It's not always the case.

    In Africa they seek out to cut body parts off of albinos because it is believed that they have some sort of medical powers for the Witch Doctors. So sad!

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  88. wow...I don't know what to say...ignorance is a very bad condition

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  89. This was 1992?! I am so revolted that some parents are still so conceited as to force children to wear such a hateful symbol.

    www.modernworld4.blogspot.com

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  90. This brought tears to my eyes. I feel bad for the little boy growing up in this home of hate.. (It also shocks me that this is the post I see today as we just watched American History X last night). The police officer looks like he thinks the little boy is cute and the look on his face warms my heart. To know that his parents dressed him like this disgusts me. So many emotions I feel with this picture.

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  91. that is such a sweet looking photo! x

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  92. It's sad that many parents force their views on their children. Sadly, I don't think the child ever had a chance. He probably spent his whole life listening to the bashing of other races, eventually, a little brainwashing does get in there.

    I try very hard not to force my views on my children. Mostly, I get a lot of flack for not taking them to church. I spent a lot of my life confused and angry with my parents because I was expected to hold their same beliefs. It took many years of searching to find my own beliefs and I would never want that for my children. Religion, and many other aspects of life should be personal choices, not because they were brought up in a family who told them what their beliefs should be. Like this little boy. If he wants to love all colors, it should have been his choice. Or, if he wanted to grow up a racist, it should have been his choice also. It disgusts me that his parents thought to dress him this way was ok. It does make for a powerful photo though.

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  93. I think that this sort of thing happens whether it's racial profiling, or even something trivial. Think about your childhood, and how much your parents really have an influence on who you are. Religious practices, traditions, values and morals usually all come from home. The drive and motivation to do well in school, activities you might try, etc. It's amazing. And one of the things I hope I can do well when I become a parent.

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  94. This is a powerful photo... of course it makes me think about the meaning behind the image: intolerance and how it is cultivated

    But it also makes me think about curiosity, which leads us to knowledge, which in turns, breaks up hate. Indeed, curiosity often saves our souls

    And about compassion which prevents us to come to a standstill when time to forgive comes and allows us to build bridges and heal wounds


    But mainly, this photo makes me think about resiliency. I need to believe that we are all capable of recovering (not often easily or quickly) from our own story and experiences, that there is always an ounce of light inside us that can open the door to a new life, gives us a second opportunity. I need to believe that one can un-learn what one has learnt, one can let go beliefs, roles and even prejudices, one can eventually change...

    And finally, it makes me think about transience... I am not sure why


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  95. Shocking. Children are so vulnerable. I dread to think how that child’s mind has been since formed by the adults in his family… But the State Trooper seems amused...

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  96. What a moving photo! I really hope he found a way to grow past the hate he was being brought up in and see the beauty in everyone! :)

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  97. Sorry for visiting so late , I have been filled with emotions as a human , I am speechless and shocked :)

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  98. This is sad. Pathetic, even. I'm sure that brave officer just rolled his eyes and thought how ignorant can some parents be?
    Thankfully these kinds of things are becoming very uncommon in today's society, but of course, not completely gone. I just feel pity for that poor child to be raised by such hateful parents. Hopefully he grew up and left home, never to go back.

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  99. It's too bad we can't all have that child like curiosity and blindness to race, religion, and ethnicity. Where difference in a chance to explore and see the beauty, not the fear and the hate.

    The picture is....heartbreaking.

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  100. Bless the beasts and the children, for in this world they have no voice, they have no choice...Karen Carpenter

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  101. the only thing we should ever hate is evil. not the people, but the root cause. forgive them for they know not what they do. me too sometimes... no one is perfect!

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  102. Sadness, Keith, heart-breaking sadness for this tiny boy who "knows not what he does"...:(

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  103. I see a man (the State Trooper) with understanding on his face. It may have been a eye opener for him, a understanding of what perpetuates the hate. This innocent little boy has no feelings of hate, or prejudice, but was probably taught it as he grew up. So sad....

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  104. What goes through my mind: little mean people often grow up to be big mean people. The specificity of bigotry has to be taught (who, exactly, will you hate?) but unfortunately — we do seem to be hard-wired for bigotry. It's an evolutionary hangover from our tribal days. (Not that we've entirely outgrown that phase.) Strangers meant enemies, and in some languages those two words are still the same. But knowing we're predisposed to bigotry doesn't mean we have to give up, just that we have to be extra-vigilant and work to train it out of our kids.

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  105. wow this pic says a million words!

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  106. Oh my...
    this pic reminded me of a John Grisham novel
    titled 'The Chamber'.
    I hope that boy grew up to be a loving person.

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  107. Shock at seeing a child in that garment. It's a fascinating image though; a child who is obviously being used by those who have such hate within them but is attracted to the police who are there to defend against that hate. And the officers, who obviously have a good interest in that little boy. I hope he met more like the officers, who fought for good instead of evil, and that the values they introduced him to overrode those of his parents.

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  108. I can't believe any parent would put their child in something like this....so many emotions!

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  109. I posted about this same photo a while back, and provided a little more info about it. It's one of those images that delivers a real punch in the gut, isn't it? No matter how many times I look at it, it still stuns me. (If you're interested in my take on it, click on the tag "hatred" on my sidebar, and it'll take you right to it.)

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  110. Actually nothing goes on, it's like being numb. Feel sad for the kid in a way.

    How are you doing?? Hopefully good!

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  111. A mixture of disgust and hope. Disgust for obvious reasons but hope because at the time the child probably didn't grasp what was going on and had no problem approaching a person of a different race.

    I'd like to think that conditioning by small minded people didn't beat the child down. It's also a very good example that we aren't born ignorant.

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  112. It never ceases to amaze me (as old as I am) what people are capable of. I'm speechless.

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  113. I believe that we understand the most about the world at conception, but we can't express it. As we grow up and are "conditioned," we lose everything that we once had and some of us spend our entire adulthood trying to rediscover that innocence, purity and unbiased view of the world that we came here with. We came here in a state of pure love. That is our nature. The curiosity of the child demonstrates this and it feels like the officer can sense that purity despite the clothes this child is wearing. As much as there is sadness in this photo, I also see joy between the officer and the child. I think it depends on what we choose to see and how we want to be in this world. That makes all the difference!

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  114. The first and only word that came into my head was "parents". Either the presence or the lack of them thereof. Parents, where were they? And I don't mean physically, I mean it in every single sense of the expression. Where were they? Many thanks. I was completely unaware of the existence of the photo.

    Greetings from London.

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  115. What can I say. I am astonished, but again the clan did exist or does it still. I just hope that this kid grew up to be smart enough to shed the robe physically, intellectually and emotionally.

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  116. That is proof that hatred is taught and not innate! I have never seen this picture, but it speaks VOLUMES. So touching!

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  117. beautifull photo... In my mind that kid is talking: let go... you don't need to defend yourself. you are safe. there is only love ...

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  118. This makes me feel soooo many emotions. I'm speechless.

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  119. i'm canadian, so forgive me i didn't immediately get the kkk costume reference. i thought it was sooo adorable - a wizard or something star wars-ish i hadn't seen before. i really really really hope that kid learned to love and to show love.

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  120. It reminds me of my nieces. They are just teenagers and know little about politics, but are adamant that they are Republicans because their parents are. I asked them once WHY they were Republicans and they were pretty much speechless. It's all in how we are raised...

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  121. When I see this picture I see HOPE. People can change, I'm living proof of that. Over the last few years my views have completely changed. I no longer follow everything I was "raised" to believe. It appears to me that the cop has a grin on his face. :) It's sad that people raise children to hate or not be accepting of others. I do believe there is hope in the world still. There are a lot of good people in it. Have a great weekend Keith! Thanks for sharing.

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  122. Hatred is something that is learned, certain not something one is born with (thank God). Very touching photo, Keith.

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  123. Oh my goodness, this photo made me gasp! I can't even imagine what the policeman is thinking he looks at this cute little toddler. I'm so very horrified.

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  124. One could write an entire novel based solely on this photograph. In real life, we can hope for the best possible outcome, but realize that's most likely not the case.

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  125. Just when it seems all the humanity in the world is at the verge of collapse, someone stands by and tells us that there's always hope. And its a safe harbor ahead.

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  126. I find this photo very disturbing and also very powerful. It tells so much about the likely fate of this little boy. It tells me big time that power that parents have over their children....good and bad. I believe that the parents of this child could be charged with a 'hate crime' against minorities and psychological abuse of their child.
    An incredible photo indeed.

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  127. that's an amazing photo, it would be fascinating to know how that child grows up

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  128. It's sad! It's just so very sad how parents can effectively shut their kids up from how wonderfully rich and diverse this world is!

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  129. My mind is on the cop and his expression. I wonder what is going through HIS mind. I feel like he sees the irony and isn't offended, just disappointed.

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  130. Holy cow! What a crazy picture! The irony of it all. Cannot believe it was as recent as 1992. Sigh . . .

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