Musk Slams ‘The New Woke Times’ Over Racial Bias Article

A Shirley Card used to color-correct photographs. | Image by National Gallery of Art
A Shirley Card used to color-correct photographs. | Image by National Gallery of Art

A recent article by The New York Times made claims regarding the purportedly inherent racial bias in film and photography technologies, drawing the ire of Elon Musk.

Musk posted on X, “The New Woke Times is unreadable.” He linked to an article by Harvard assistant professor Sarah Lewis titled “Exposing Racial Bias Built Into Photography.”

The article draws on Lewis’ experiences as a black woman while discussing the historical development of film technology.

Lewis claims that the development of film types had an inherent racial bias due to most customers and subjects of photography being white during the development of the technology. She asserted that the “Shirley Card” led to an inherent bias in the development of film types.

The Shirley Card was an image of a white woman with brown hair that developers used to color-correct photographs. In the 1980s, other Shirley Card images were introduced to provide more diversity and help developers color-correct images of black, Latino, and Asian subjects.

In her article, Lewis, who comes from a long line of photographers, asked, “What is preventing us from correcting the inherited bias in camera and film technology? Is there not a fortune to gain by the technology giant who is first to market?”

The feud between NYT and Musk has been going on for years. In 2022, the outlet attempted to publish a hit piece on Musk accusing him of being racist, only to have its efforts deflated after the reporting concluded that Musk was most likely a “progressive” by South African standards. Musk was born in South Africa.

“I don’t know if this is really a hit piece so much as … incoherent, like they had a story idea in mind, but then the facts of Musk’s life didn’t fit it, so they just jumbled them all together and published anyway. Musk doesn’t come away from it looking like a racist at all,” Reason associate editor Liz Wolfe said, per Fox News.

Among the conclusions NYT drew from its research was that Musk had non-white friends, his father was an anti-apartheid politician, and Musk left South Africa to avoid mandatory service in the apartheid military.

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