I Just Found the Most Racist Photo (and Caption) on iStock. Here's My 10 Favorite Things About It

Illustration for article titled I Just Found the Most Racist Photo (and Caption) on iStock. Here's My 10 Favorite Things About It
Photo: innovatedcaptures (iStock)

Yesterday afternoon, while searching “black man calls police” and “calling police black person” on iStock—to find a suitable picture for “My Self-Care Sunday Story: I Called The Cops On A White Guy”—I found the above pic. There are tens of thousands of images on iStock, and I won’t pretend to have seen them all. But I have no doubt that this picture takes the racist cake. It is the Banksy of racist stock photos; the Denmark Vesey of bigoted editorial images; the Sheryl Swoopes of subscription-based stereotypes. It’s so racist that it somehow subverts and transcends racism, like a cake so rich you can’t even taste it.


I can expound for weeks about my favorite parts of this picture, but because of certain time and space constraints, I’ll only name 10.

1. The caption, which reads “Injured Gangster Calling 911 for Help” and is a lie because we all know that injured thugs call jitneys and then Domino’s.

2. The caption, which is dry snitching on him being a snitch. What type of Fisher Price: My First Hoodie-ass thug gets shot and then calls the cops?

3. The fact that I can’t tell if he was shot or just has some really bad hemorrhoids. (If it’s the latter, I don’t blame him for calling the police. You should be able to arrest hemorrhoids.)

4. His teeth, which are nice and straight and bright and makes me wonder if there’s some sort of gangsta dental plan program in the hood I don’t know about. (Perhaps it’s called Thug Braces.)

5. The tiny little hint of the bandana, which probably took them five or six takes to get just right and reminds me of how I like pocket squares to look on suits.


6. How did the phone dial 911 if it’s out of his reach? Is there some sort of special Thug Siri you can install for times like this?

“Thug Siri.”

“Yes, my nigga.”

“I’ve been shot. In my hemorrhoids.”

“I’ll call 911.”

7. That “Thug Rrhoids”—which is what I’ve decided his name is—looks exactly like Mystikal.


8. Thug Rrhoids’s refusal to just extend his fingers so he can reach the phone. He’s on the brink of death and decides to treat his hands like claws. Thug Rrhoids makes bad decisions.

9. I’m trying to think of an article where this picture would even be suitable. What the fuck are you writing about where a snitch-ass thug shot in the hemorrhoids is the best image for it?


10. Maybe, perhaps, this is for a horror movie—some Tales From The Hood-type-shit—and Thug Rrhoids is actually being pulled into the abyss by a demon. This actually would give “Injured Gangster Calling 911 for Help” an appropriate and relevant context.

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB, a contributing opinion writer for The New York Times, and the author of What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Blacker (Ecco/HarperCollins)



Today’s VSB/Pittsburghese Ass Word I Ain’t Gonna Front And Pretend That I Knew is “jitneys”



nounINFORMAL•NORTH AMERICANplural noun: jitneysa bus or other vehicle carrying passengers for a low fare.