Jacob Holdt - a political interpretation of who I am 

Naughty children in Harlem

A clever combination of luck and laziness seems to have guided me through life. Yet, as the creator of American Pictures I am so often mistaken for something more than ordinary - not least by American students - that I will use my home page to emphasize that there is a quite boring and simple man behind Mr. American Pictures. That I am so often seen in America as someone who has accomplished the impossible may actually say more about the feelings of powerlessness in American youth today than about me. 

My luck was growing up and being shaped in my trusting outlook by the very secure times of the 60's - full of optimism and a sense of being able to change the world. 

My second luck - I have come to feel over the years - was growing up in a social welfare state with a tremendous cradle to grave sense of security. It is well known how Americans spend the latter part of their lives worrying about their lives in a society with no such security, but today I even see much of American youth worrying in ways which changes their outlook on the world. 

Throughout the Third World I meet young Europeans tramping around with backpacks while hardly ever meeting an American any more. As I point out in my workshops in American colleges: the tremendous cost of refusing to pay higher taxes to get more security for all (such as free education and health care) burdens Americans to the point where they loose both the freedom to afford to travel - and to walk safely in their own streets at home. 

Woman killed outside "my" window in New York

The less trusting outlook they thus easily develop I hear expressed again and again after seeing my show: "How did you get the courage to do it?" 
Europeans, on the contrary, usually respond after the show: "Damn, why didn't I get the idea to travel in the black ghettoes?" - and shortly after often take off for America. Frequently I meet them in Harlem on their very first day in America! 

This leads to my third luck: that the first American family to take me in was a black family where I received a "reverse" racial indoctrination. This, I believe, eventually allowed me to travel on both sides of the great racial divide in America.

Most European travelers first end up in white homes who frighten them with veiled racist warnings "Don't walk two blocks this way!" etc - and thus easily force them in on the white side of this peculiar and dehumanizing psychological racial system in America. Today's European youth are more vulnerable to such oppression and less "neutral" than I once was: not only are our own countries today deeply racist (towards immigrants), but they have also been bombarded with American movies with negative portrayals of blacks. 

Pushers in California

So, I feel that I have had a good share of luck in my early life which allowed me to hold on to the natural curiosity and trust we are all born with!!! These essential qualities for surviving in the midst of brutal surroundings I see hurt and killed in far too many young people today by various societies. 

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My world family: Genealogy         My luck   
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