The Good Citizen

The Good Citizen questions the structures of power and privilege in the United States. It brings diverse narratives into a dialogue by weaving threads of law and policy together with individual stories.

I was raised in the Philippines by an American mother and a Faroese father. Since moving to the United States 20 years ago, I have grappled with my American citizenship and the privilege inherent within it.

For the past decade I have explored this tension, photographing Donald Trump as well as a Somali community targeted by his supporters. Contemporary beauty pageants in immigrant communities denied citizenship until the 1950s because of the naturalization laws requirement of whiteness. Artificial intelligence run border cameras, which are part of the U.S. Mexico border strategy that funnels migrants into the desert, and the personal items left behind by those who died as a result of the dangerous journey.

Through my photographs and essays by critical race theorist Frank H. Wu, we create a disquieting study of what it means to be an American. Following the ripples of our history to our present allows us to interrogate the legacies of whiteness, violence and national character.

A monograph of The Good Citizen will be released in early 2023.

© Benjamin Rasmussen - 1958 revenue stamp of Chief Justice Roger B. Taney, author of the Dred Scott decision.
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1958 revenue stamp of Chief Justice Roger B. Taney, author of the Dred Scott decision.

© Benjamin Rasmussen - Dontey Carter after the killing of Micheal Brown. Ferguson, Missouri
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Dontey Carter after the killing of Micheal Brown. Ferguson, Missouri

© Benjamin Rasmussen - Community members reenact the Moore’s Ford Lynching to create pressure for the case to be reopened. Walton County, Georgia
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Community members reenact the Moore’s Ford Lynching to create pressure for the case to be reopened. Walton County, Georgia

© Benjamin Rasmussen - President Donald Trump enters his private living room. White House Executive Residence, Washington, DC
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President Donald Trump enters his private living room. White House Executive Residence, Washington, DC

© Benjamin Rasmussen - Somali apartment complex targeted for a domestic terrorism attach by Trump supporters. Garden City, Kansas
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Somali apartment complex targeted for a domestic terrorism attach by Trump supporters. Garden City, Kansas

© Benjamin Rasmussen - Jane Okubo was born in the Amache Internment Camp in 1944. Granada, Colorado
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Jane Okubo was born in the Amache Internment Camp in 1944. Granada, Colorado

© Benjamin Rasmussen - Image from the The Good Citizen photography project
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Amache High School Royal Ball Queen Lucy Nakano and her attendants photographed by George Ochikubo for the 1945 Onlooker Yearbook. Granada, Colorado

© Benjamin Rasmussen - Image from the The Good Citizen photography project
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Boots recovered and returned in fifty-five boxes of unearthed remains of soldiers missing in action during the Korean War. Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, Honolulu, Hawaii

© Benjamin Rasmussen - Khalaf Hesso and Salman Haji in the field that will become the first Yazidi cemetery outside of Iraq. Lincoln, Nebraska
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Khalaf Hesso and Salman Haji in the field that will become the first Yazidi cemetery outside of Iraq. Lincoln, Nebraska

© Benjamin Rasmussen - Image from the The Good Citizen photography project
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Chiloh Whiteshirt, one of the over 330 descendants of Tom White Shirt, one of the survivors of the 1864 Sand Creek Massacre. Eads, Oklahoma

© Benjamin Rasmussen - Thirty-one descendents of Tom White Shirt. Eads, Oklahoma
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Thirty-one descendents of Tom White Shirt. Eads, Oklahoma

© Benjamin Rasmussen - Eleven-year-old Ashlynne Mike’s last view before being murdered. Shiprock, Navajo Nation, New Mexico
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Eleven-year-old Ashlynne Mike’s last view before being murdered. Shiprock, Navajo Nation, New Mexico

© Benjamin Rasmussen - Bald eagle before necropsy. National Eagle Repository, Commerce City, Colorado
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Bald eagle before necropsy. National Eagle Repository, Commerce City, Colorado

© Benjamin Rasmussen - Slides each holding the DNA profiles of twenty-four customers. Family Tree DNA, Houston, Texas
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Slides each holding the DNA profiles of twenty-four customers. Family Tree DNA, Houston, Texas

© Benjamin Rasmussen - Kalea Pitel, Miss Philippines USA 2016 San Diego, California
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Kalea Pitel, Miss Philippines USA 2016 San Diego, California

© Benjamin Rasmussen - Baian Taleb, Miss Arab USA 2016-2017 Melbourne, Florida
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Baian Taleb, Miss Arab USA 2016-2017 Melbourne, Florida

© Benjamin Rasmussen - Tower photograph with artificial intelligence identification. Jeff Davis County, Texas
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Tower photograph with artificial intelligence identification. Jeff Davis County, Texas

© Benjamin Rasmussen - Sonoran Desert crossing corridor in the Growler Valley. Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge, Arizona
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Sonoran Desert crossing corridor in the Growler Valley. Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge, Arizona

© Benjamin Rasmussen - Abandoned gallon water jugs. Growler Valley, Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge, Arizona
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Abandoned gallon water jugs. Growler Valley, Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge, Arizona

© Benjamin Rasmussen - Personal effects of an unidentified border crosser, ML#: 18-2014. Pima County Morgue, Tucson, Arizona
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Personal effects of an unidentified border crosser, ML#: 18-2014. Pima County Morgue, Tucson, Arizona

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