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Misidentified Black People in Iowa

We’ve blogged in the past about the Undercover Black Man blog and its regular feature called Misidentified Black Person of the Week.

Last week, I had the singular good (bad?) fortune to come across two instances of misidentification, in two different newspapers, within about 5 minutes of each other.

The first was in a USA Today article about New York Giants wide receiver Plaxico Burress; the accompanying photograph showed “Burress [getting] both feet down inbounds on a catch inside the Falcons’ 1-yard line.” But the receiver who’s doing the toe-dance in the picture is actually Amani Toomer.

The second article, from the Sioux City Journal, was an A.P. report about Sean “Diddy” Combs being accused of assault at a New York nightclub. The picture, as best as I can tell, is indeed Combs; but the caption read simply, “Name.” (On the other hand, the Journal had a pair of really interesting front-page articles, one about the Iowa GOP moving up its caucuses to Jan. 3 — the night of the Orange Bowl — and the other about a corn mold that has shown up in “Siouxland” and may severely affect the corn crop.)

The good news is that the online version of the USA Today article ran a picture that was indeed Burress. The Sioux City Journal Web site required registration, so I didn’t check if it, too, had fixed its error. This is plainly one of the advantages of online journalism: you can fix your mistakes as fast and as often as you like.

And what, you may ask, was I doing in Iowa, reading the Sioux City Journal?

I had a lecture at Morningside College, which turned out to be a wonderful place full of smart, interesting, and kind people, from the president (John Reynders) to the faculty to the students and alumni.

My trip to Iowa was particularly rewarding because I’d never been to Iowa before. I would like to visit all 50 states before I die, and while I got off to a very late start in my traveling, I am getting closer. On this trip, I spoke in Iowa, slept in Nebraska, and drove across the state line in the morning to buy a South Dakota lottery ticket. I know, I know: that’s not really much of a visit; but I’m going to count it nonetheless.

This leaves me with only 6 states to visit. If you had to guess the least-visited state in the U.S., what would you guess? These folks say it’s North Dakota. I spent a week in Fargo a couple years back, so I took care of that one. Here’s what’s left on my list: Alaska, Arkansas, Hawaii, Mississippi, Montana, and Oregon. Of those, the ones I most want to visit are Alaska and Oregon, by a long shot.