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January 22, 2008

Commodifying Race

Commodifying Race

Art has always been a part of Hank Willis Thomas' life. His mother is an artist and photo historian, and Hank followed in her footsteps by earning degrees in photography and visual criticism.

But when his older cousin, the person closest to him in the world, was killed outside a nightclub over a decorative chain, Hank's life changed - and so did his art.

By combining familiar logos, like the NBA logo with 19th century advertisements of slave auctions, Hank began creating a kind of social commentary on the commodification of the black male body and black-on-black violence - much of it based on his own experiences. His new series, "Unbranded" will be part of the Civil Rights exhibit "After 1968: Contemporary Artists and the Civil Rights Legacy" at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta.

Scamming The Scammers

Mike Berry is a computer engineer in Manchester, U.K. Six years ago, he began a kind of second career of getting back at email scammers. But in April 2004, he got one email that really bothered him. Actually, it was several emails - and they were all from the same person.

It was obvious to Mike that the emails were a scam, but what irritated him was the persistence of the sender. So Mike wrote back intending to tear a strip off him. Instead, he found himself baiting the would-be scammer over the following months, assuring him that he would send $18,000, if only the scammer would send Mike $80 to help with banking charges. Sure enough, Mike received the $80 in the mail (which he donated to charity).

Mike found the adventure so much fun, he established a website to help anyone who wants to scam the scammers. Mike is also convinced that his efforts are about more than fun: they're about justice.

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