Sunday, July 13, 2008

The Audacity Of Thick Skin

The more semi and blatantly racist images I see assaulting the Obamas, the more I realize the price of having a Black President. And I'm wondering if Black America has enough Tums and blood pressure meds to make it through 4 years of this. Peep the latest.

This week's New Yorker cover features an image of Michelle and Barack Obama that combines every smeary right-wing stereotype imaginable: An image of Obama in a turban and robes fist-bumping his be-afro'd wife, dressed in the military fatigues of a revolutionary and packing a machine gun and some serious ammo. Oh yes, this quaint little scene takes place in the Oval Office, under a picture of Osama bin Laden above a roaring fireplace, in which burns an American flag.

The illustration, by Barry Blitt,is called "The Politics of Fear" and, according to the NYer press release, "satirizes the use of scare tactics and misinformation in the Presidential election to derail Barack Obama's campaign."
You can look at this two ways. The proliferation of such racist images is a sign of the times. Namely, a sign that despite how far we think this country has come in the area of race relations, we've damn sure got a long way to go. I guess I wouldn't have much of a problem with Obama being roasted like this, it comes with the territory. But as the husband of a Black woman, something about the subliminal message of Michelle as a baby mama, an angry shrew, an oversexed blaxploitation heroiene, or worst of all, a lynching victim, just rubs me so many wrong ways.

I mean, seriously, lynching a Black woman? Is that what's hot on the streets right now? Just peep game from Bill O'Reilly.

And this wayward illustration from the DailyKos.

Call me crazy. I understand that spouses are fair game, but isn't there a line of decency to be drawn somewhere?

Barack's not immune himself of course.

On the flipside, part of me thinks Black America is gonna need to grow some thicker skin if this whole Number One Spot thing is gonna pan out like we hope. History seldom comes without some expense. And reality is, residents of 1600 Penn Ave. have been lampooned from the beginning of time. There's Abe Lincoln general fugliness. George Washington's wooden teeth[1]. Dan Quayle's idiocy. Bill Clinton's love of cheeseburgers and easy women. Bush Jr's total and complete lack of competence.

So it should be of little surprise that Obama's going to get mocked for many things of a racial nature, because, well, he's the first brother to make it this far. And what else can they really talk about other than his ears?

I hate stealing other blogger's catchphrases[2] but this time it seems apropos.

It's hard, but it's fair.


Question: Do you think the racial assault on the Obamas is completely uncalled for or simply par for the course? Does Black America need to be a bit less sensitive?

Yikes! Controversial New Yorker Cover Shows Muslim, Flag-Burning, Osama-Loving, Fist-Bumping Obama [HuffPost]

[1] Actually just an urban legend. I already know, don't comment on this.

[2] Heads up Jimi.

38 AverageComments™:

Missy said...

All of that is a mess and a half, right. You can't forget the ig-nant stuff "we" are doing to ourselves...ala Jesie Jackson and others.

SingaporeSwim said...

avg bro,
i didn't know that you were so pc and sensitive.

satire, as depicted in the new yorker cover, is supposed to be excessively over the top and exaggerated. the comedy is in its absurdity, inanity and lack of subtlety.

the uppity (but militant) negro said...

Black Snob covered that fool of an art exhibit and I want to start there.

He's a fool and whatever he's saying I'd say take with a grain of salt, clearly his ass just got off the boat in the last five years. What does he REALLY know about racism, sexism, homophobia (and homo-ignorance) etc. I mean, this was nothing more than an oversensationalism just so he could get famous. It's just like the white woman in Spike Lee's "Bamboozled" who was called in to be the expert on the debut of the new show because she got the degree in Africana Studies from NYC.

Eff him and his mama.

(sorry, Militant Negro has been rearing its head lately)

I'll take more from the New Yorker because for the most part they lampoon, parody, satirize everyone. I don't think it's an issue of black people not being sensitive because if we become numb, when some real ish hits the fan, we'll just be there standing with crap on our face asking whitey for a paper towel to wipe it off. However, I think some of Black America suffers from what I call Issac Hayes Syndrome.

South Park fairly parodied and made fun of EVERYONE--I mean the black people for being so rich, and the new black kid named Token, Mormons, Jews--EVERYONE. But, oh, when it came to talk about the fools who are Scientologists, he quit his job. Realistically, we need to just roll with the punches. I think its okay to cringe when we see Darrell Hammond do the absolute FUNNIEST impression of Jesse Jackson in black face, but hey, roll with the punches and take it with a grain of salt.

Vee (Scratch) said...

The New Yorker cover is great. It is an obvious take on the misinformation and spin that's being put out there. I love the use of the Michelle's afro because after all that controversial "style" is a no-no in some circles.

Some folks are going to need to be a bit less sensitive because the closer we get to November, the heavier the rain pour will come.
But I understand calling attention to many crazy images in the media because sexism and racism is still rampant. said...

Hey Average Bro! {waves}

I think it's going to continue...there are no boundaries at all that the media will NOT CROSS I believe that that black people need to expect that there will be NO RESPECT whatsoever shown to the Obamas by the media... and that we must acknowledge that this country is filled with racial hatred...we can choose how we want to deal with it... waste our energy griping or start operating in solidarity to wield our influence financially against ANY companies that advertise on any news stations that are offensive to blacks and any companies who place ads in their newspapers... it's time to bring back the GOOD OLE FASHIONED black-cott!!!

{raised fist}

By the way Average Bro, you are invited to visit my blog and share with us anytime you'd like! There are some intellectual sistas who are congregating there!

Stuck in my head said...

I understand the New Yorkers approach, but at the same time feel like with so many people in this nation believing the hype about him being a Muslim (not that there is anything wrong with the religion) and thinking that he has associations with terrorists, that it may be extreme. Think of all the people who will see the cover, not read the information inside, and just assume that it is a magazine preaching the truth about the man.

I think the RACIAL assault on Sen. Obama is uncalled for, but it is par for the course to get attacked on ISSUES. This does not seem to be occurring as much as the racial undertones that you hear in the media, though.

AverageBro said...

@ trumpet

{nods back}

sorry, just had to do that.

@ uppity

Darrell Hammond does a spot-on Jesse. The best I've ever seen, hands down. I don't personally cringe when I see this.

@ stuck in

Agreed. I "get" the satire, but the heavyhandedness of the whole thing is poorly executed, much like the Daily KoS illustration.

Political cartoons that make fun of positions and issues are fine, but when you cross the line into racism/xenophobia, it's a bit over the top.

@ vee

Yep. Like it or not, we better get used to this peculiar example of "The Black Tax". It's not gonna get any better.

Daedalus said...

The GOP has been lampooned by everything published within 50 miles of the east coast. This wasnt even a hit piece it was a satire about the misconceptions surrounding the Obama's and everyone is still up in arms? Puhleeease. This is much ado about nothing.

spool32 said...

Yeah, I think you've missed the point entirely. The whole aim of that cover is to point out all the sort of nutty fringe attacks thrown at Obama in lieu of actual assaults on his positions, consistency, or ability to do the job. Satire is supposed to go over the top, that's the point. To elevate some rhetoric to the point of being ridiculous, then ridicule it.

The DailyKos thing is just a lowdown smear against Republicans, not much different than Bushitler posters and other revolting crap appearing there pretty much constantly for the last half a decade. The "Southern Strategy" concept grew out of Nixon's race... his chief strategist suggested that state Republicans not attack the Voting Rights Act, because more blacks registered to vote translated into more white fear, and perhaps a way to break the Democratic deadlock of the south.

Effing Nixon. What a sonofabitch. Anyway, the term has generally been used as an insult and a swipe at Republicans for a long time. Wikipedia entry here.

The amusing thing to me, and this sort of highlights just how braindead your average Kossack is: the KKK was traditionally a Democratic institution, and atrocities like the one depicted in that image were almost exclusively carried out by white southern Democrats.

the uppity negro said...


It wasn't until I did my own post on this that I kind of realised why this satire perhaps could be lost.

Granted I believe the intent of the author was to make all of this satirical to show the stupidity of it all, I think it was lost on many people some still believe that Obama is a Muslim, apparently having an afro (natural) is a bad thing, and apparently being labeled a Muslim is in fact a bad thing.

Whether intentional or not, I believe that this satire plays into the fears of many right-wingers and those who already have presuppositions about black people and the Obama's in general.

Hollatyogirl said...

Because The New Yorker is for Obama, this just seems like one of those moments when one of your white friends takes a Black joke too far. I think they thought they could say something they can't say.

Ezra said...

It would be funny to have a cartoon about how ignorant white people are but when white editors at white magazines have white illustrators do satire about culture they are isolated from it just makes me cringe.

spool32 said...


It could be, yeah... your average fringe Freeper isn't really the New Yorker's target demographic, but I guess I could see how an attempt to expand their single-issue sales numbers could blow up in their faces like this. If you're not used to the New Yorker's satire, it might look altogether different.

It's worth noting that a similarly egregious cover of McCain with a walker and an oxygen line, AARP card sticking out of his pocket, house slippers and a robe on, Matlock on the TV behind him and the Oval Office as a nursing home, would've been simply funny to people. The bar for poking fun at the candidates is dramatically different this time around, almost completely due to successful efforts by the Obama campaign to place these sorts of jokes into the off-limits category and simultaneously pin them on his competitors. So far, it's been an effective strategy.

At some point, instead of jumping on the appalled bandwagon, McCain is going to come out and say "Sure it's in poor taste, but maybe a candidate who's so easily offended by this sort of thing ought not be our President."

And then it's really on. Obama needs to dial back the Offended Rhetoric before it blows up in his face.

AverageBro said...

@ spool32

Understood, and partially agreed.

But how would you feel if the New Yorker published a cover with Cindy McCain in a crackhouse, with a batch of butterscotch oatmeal cookies on the floor, and Johnny Mac in the backroom with a stripper (whom he used to date)?

All these things would be technically correct on some level (unlike anything in the Obama cover), and they would likewise be in very poor taste.

Like I said, I accept this stuff as part of the cost of doing business. That doesn't mean it doesn't bug me on some level though.

Gracie B. said...

It's inappropriate and in poor taste, but tolerable. It's like, I get the point, but something about it is wrong. The bleeding heart liberal in me wants desperately to find humor in this situation and the constant fear and hate mongering that's going on in this campaign, but the part of me that wants Obama's campaign and (hopeful) election to mean something more and to elevate us as a society thinks that this isn't helping us much. The fact of it is that hate isn't funny. And it's not art. Hate is hate. And I think trying to satirize or even find some sort of eye-rolling humor in it just trivializes it.

deedee said...

hey ya'll. it's been a while. since i've left the day job i haven't had a chance to read the blog on a regular basis and i haven't posted a comment in ages. but this right here. NOTHING can stop me from venting on this one. you can call me ignorant for not understanding the nuances of satire or for not knowing the new yorker's or the daily kos' reputation but i don't care. this mess is DISTURBING AS HELL. there is no explaining this crap away. so ya'll can take your reasoning and SHOVE IT WHERE THE SUN DON'T SHINE!!!

deedee said...

hey ya'll. it's been a while. since i've left the day job i haven't had a chance to read the blog on a regular basis and i haven't posted a comment in ages. but this right here. NOTHING can stop me from venting on this one. you can call me ignorant for not understanding the nuances of satire or for not knowing the new yorker's or the daily kos' reputation but i don't care. this mess is DISTURBING AS HELL. there is no explaining this crap away. so ya'll can take your reasoning and SHOVE IT WHERE THE SUN DON'T SHINE!!!

AAW said...

I thought you were still on vacation. First time dropping by in a while.

Anyway, about this story. As I wrote on my blog today, I get satire but I don't get this.

Satire isn't something you need to explain (like the New Yorker's editor have being doing), people just get it.

I saw a CNN newsstory last Friday night about getting the Americans' pulse at a Memphis ballpark. There was one white woman who still believed Obama is muslim but to talk to her friend (who supposed to be a political junkie) sitting few seats behind her what he thinks.

The "political junkie" gave me a pause by saying the only change a black may have is carrying a can on the streets begging for some. So in my view, the New Yorker just perpetuated such fear.

spool32 said...

I don't think deedee gets the dailykos reputation... the site is a major player on the Democratic side of the aisle, both in influence and in fundraising. Also, I suspect that a lot of commenters here are either intentionally or unintentionally ignoring much, much more egregious insults from the left. Where is your outrage over this or this or this? The New Yorker cover is absolutely NOT beyond the pale, especially for a left-leaning publication existing in the environment that spawned the above images with no general sense of distaste or outrage from the left. Are you really mad about the cover, separately from your support of Obama? Or just mad at the shot somebody might have maybe taken at your candidate? How is it that blowing up a military recruitment office gets a day of press and not a peep from Obama, but a satirical caricature appears on the cover of a publication mostly unavailable outside Manhattan and he feels he needs to make a statement?


I think this is more evidence that the model of over-reaction and hyper-offense the left has defined is grating against the tasteless, insulting, and ignorant rhetoric it's been employing against its enemies since 2001. If Obama fails to win, it will be partly due to the fact that with Obama's rise, certain segments of the Democratic political mind suddenly became mutually exclusive of other segments, and the dissonance damaged the party's ability to be effective. I mean, seriously. When was the last time you gave a damn what the New Yorker said? Nevermind what was on its cover.

AverageBro said...

@ spool32

You seem to keep mistaking this for a political blog. It's emphatically not, so Dems vs GOP arguements aren't gonna play very well here. I'd say that by and large, most black folks (ie: the majority of the readers here) couldn't care less about politics in this context.

The images you linked to could and should be offensive to many. Nobody would knock Bush supporters for being squeamish about those Hitler references.

That said, why is it so unreasonable for Black folks to be a little hot under the collar about the New Yorker cover?

spool32 said...

Well, you can't really support Obama without getting into Democrat vs. Republican conversations, and when you bring images from DailyKos over, esp. ones with overtly anti-Republican political messages it shouldn't be any surprise if the comments turn political, but OK. Lemme see if I can bring the larger point out:

Is there any reason to be upset over Obama caricatured as a Muslim other than the political one? It's not a racist image, though the caricature of his wife has that element. Neither is the Osama photo or the burning American flag. The New Yorker cover was explicitly political satire, that's instantly clear. That some take offense when much more insulting and non-satirical images go uncommented upon altogether (not just here but in general) is worth highlighting.

By the way, did you note what the brand reads in that DailyKos image? "Uppity Liberal". Also, one of the Klansmen is wearing a GOP button. It's clearly not satire at all, but a heavy-handed and insulting smear on Republicans. Is it so unreasonable for the non-Democrats in the audience to mistake the post as a political one, or feel the need to respond somewhat to that image?

I think it's at least legitimate, when you ask "I mean, seriously, lynching a Black woman? Is that what's hot on the streets right now?" to point out that apparently it's what's hot from Michelle's own Party. That when you're being rubbed the wrong way by this, it's being done by members of the elite liberal press.

deedee said...

you're right, spool. i don't "get" the dailykos. at all. and guess what, you don't get the fact that no matter WHAT the message is behind the image, this sketch is so violently offensive that it PAINS me. the trouble is, i can't decide if i'm more offended by the sketch or by this bevy of reasoning/ support. this is not a political statement. it's hate speech.

deedee said...

spool- you are killing me with your weak attempts at softening the image. the brand reads "uppity liberal" WHO CARES!!!!!!!!! the brand could read intelligent, outstanding beautiful black woman and it wouldn't matter! it's a BRAND! case closed. it must be nice to live in a world where you can ignore racism.

and two special requests- 1) please point me to where i can read some legitimate republican/ conservative outrage over this image. 2) please show me these "much more insulting and non-satirical images" that you are referring to.

spool32 said...

deedee you're missing me altogether. I am a Republican, and I'm offended by it both for the racial component and for the smear against my party. Softening that image is exactly the opposite of what I'm talking about here... what I'm saying is that leftwing over-the-top offensive images have become so damned common over the last six years that nobody should be surprised it's come to this. For me, it's yet another offensive piece of leftwing crap piled on a mountain of previous insults. If you're suddenly offended by this image, well, welcome to the party.... you're 6 years too late, but welcome all the same. Some of us over here have beensaying the left fringe has gone insane... here's your proof. They're attacking themselves now, insulting their own supporters just to make a pathetic, misguided, ignorant point about how eeeeevil Republicans are.

As for the other images, hit those links in the original post... and here's another, just for the hell of it. I could go on... google says there are 4720 of them, and that's just one theme.

deedee said...

i think this is the first you've mentioned being offended for the racial content. glad i was able to get that out of you.

i get your liberal/ conservative perspective on all of this but sorry, i'm not going to sympathize. that's just politics. you can chooose your party and political affiliation. you can't choose your race. so the two will never be equal in my eyes.

Kirby said...

Alright I know this is going to sound crazy at first but hear me out first. I actually think that this racial assault on the Obamas is a good thing. Too often in politics races tend to focus on all the candidates short comings and missteps. Obama, although not perfect, doesn't really have any dirt on him. They try their best to throw salt and hate at this man and he constantly, and probably will continue to, take the high role and lead by example. What we are seeing are desperation tactics to take down a man that seems to be unstoppable. The worst thing that they can say is that someone he knows said some wild shit. But even then he turned it around and made it work for them. That whole Rezko scandal fell apart and ended up putting more pressure on the governor of Illinois. Now you have someone who a lot of powerful white folks don't like, the ever popular messy jesse, saying some ill shit about him. Anyone remember those "hymie town" comments? So now even the whites who didn't like B-Rock before look at him differently because he has drawn the scorn of this supposed black leader. Chalk up one for the light skinned brotha. What this really demonstrates to me is their efforts to continue leading with scare tactics not satire. It also shows how it has totally become acceptable to disrespect our people cause they don't respect us as a people and that won't change until they realize that like Diddy we ain't going no where, we can't be stopped. Simply put B-Rock stay winning cause he stay focused.

the uppity negro said...

@spool32 and deedee

if I can jump into the fray...

I think what is at issue with this cover is where does the line of satire get crossed. That's really what we're all trying to figure out. Some say it has been, in this case, other's say it's come very close, but not really, and others find no offense at all. PErsonally, I believe this cover pushed the envelope right to the edge.

As I reflect further on this one, what makes this cartoon even more troubling is the fact that the cartoonist took all "negatives" to lampoon: 1) the Afro 2) The Angry Black Woman image 3) The garb that the US associates with the Muslim faith 4) Osama Bin Laden and 5) the flag burning. As opposed to a picture of John McCain in a bathrobe and slippers, with an AARP card sticking out watching Matlock--there's nothing in the collective American psyche that has even remotely categorized any of those as negative, the same isn't true for Obama.

So, the question remains is it okay to lampoon this person only using x,y and z and not lampoon this person for a, b and c.

To address the last image that you put up Spool32, I don't argue with facts. If the facts state that Karl Rove and George Bush had ancestors that had some role, albeit minor in the grand scheme of things, in the Jewish Holocaust as far as aiding-and-a-betting Adolph Hitler, what do want Democrats/Liberals to say? Now if its factually incorrect, I'll be the first to say that it's wrong, but facts don't lie.

JLL said...

Hi there!

I didn't include this info in my comment above!

If we do NOT want this action to continue then we MUST take action.

Phone number:
(This is the number for the Subscriptions Department but people can ask to be connected to David Miller.)

Or they can write a letter:

David Miller
Associate Publisher
The New Yorker
4 Times Square
New York, NY 10036

fax: 212-286-5024

Peace, blessings and DUNAMIS!

spool32 said...


Anybody who thinks that Kos image isn't racist is just plain crazy. Even a white-power skinhead would say so... I honestly didn't think it needed mentioning. I hope you feel better, or something? Your comment about choice vs. birth is beside the point. You're feeling the insult of seeing a black woman strung up like that...
.. I'm feeling the insult of some leftwing smartass thinking it's insightful to associate my beliefs with stringing a black woman up like that. What has choice got to do with it? Choice doesn't make someone's slur against me any less insulting.

Of the three statements, only the one about Arnold is factual, and he's repeatedly taken his father to the woodshed, in public, for his actions during the war.

Prescott owned 1 share of a company that was indirectly involved in financing German businesses that Hitler nationalized... if that's a connection, well OK. The Straight Dope explains the extremely tenuous indirect link. .. there's no evidence Grandpa Bush profited.

The claim about Karl Rove is an outright lie.

Anonymous said...

"Satire is supposed to go over the top, that's the point. To elevate some rhetoric to the point of being ridiculous, then ridicule it"

Black Folks, Wakeup! The German media poked fun at the Jews until the entire country and a majority of the world shared their views. This contributed to 7 million Jews being killed. The world finally woke up realized that the jokes were not funny anymore.
Any person who speaks negative about Blacks should disappear and be silenced by us. No exceptions. The New Yorker (a Jewish newspaper) is now doing the same to Blacks. I assume because the writers suffer from generational trauma, they now try everyday to marginalize Blacks and have us arguing against each other and against our interests. The world is laughing at us. They know we are defenseless and they love it. Spool32 is part of that group. All of his comments are distorted and perverted. His dialogue is berserk-like. Borderline racist. So he will take your argument and try to distort it and take the logic out by trying to justify his position with his own perverted reasoning. Some tactics may be to add stereotypical dialogue and pray that you agree with him. Averagebro I am disappointed with you AverageBro for not calling a spade a spade. Read his comments and block this guy. He is not a Republican. He is the real enemy. This is just his front to inflict harm on blacks by terrorizing our blogs and his attempt to make us accept his torture. According to spool32 logic, I guess the following link is funny; Please take a look at this link. I disagree with spool32
Copy this link

Is this funny spool32?

Anonymous said...

I thought the New Yorker cover was classic when I first saw it but then I realized that most Americans are ignorant idiots who wouldn't understand satire and that is the issue with this cover.

deedee said...

spool- again, i think i've gotten more out of you than you originally offered. so yes, i do feel better. sleep tight!

spool32 said...

Hey I take offense to being called a spade. That's racist!

That link directs you to an actual site in support of "revisionist" Holocaust history... in other words, Holocaust deniers. There's no satire there, and I think any comparison between that trash and the New Yorker is, well, just about as nutty as the anonymous commenter.

Who else but anonymous could string together a threat of violence against people who "speak negative", a Jewish conspiracy (the New Yorker is a magazine btw, not a newspaper), a series of personal insults, delusions of persecution, and top it off with Holocaust denial?

ThatDeborahGirl said...

There is no skin thick enough to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous bullshit white folks throw our way.

And the New Yorker is doing what white folks always do when they cross the line between "trying to be funny and missed" and "damn, that was offensive.

1. Explain away the slight.

2. Explain why no one should be offended, after all, they meant well.

3. Never recognize that what they did was bad, only that the reaction to it was "unfortunate".

plez... said...

Oh AvgOne... you hit the nail on the head, you people are going to have to grow a much thicker skin if you plan to see Obama in the white house for the next 4 to 8 years!

the new yorker magazine cover is satire... plain and simple! it throws all of the negative, ugly, and false rumors about the Obamas into the Oval Office for their own little private fist bump after his inauguration... the laugh is on those dumbass republicans who thought they could keep him out of the white house with their negative, ugly, and false rumors!

it is PERFECT and ON POINT! and i linked to this post at plezWorld to boot!

Anonymous said...

The truth hurts!! The Holocaust was real. Racist satire is real and still exists. The NewYorker and the site that i referenced employ the same tactics. Just different issues.

People like you, don't like to be uncovered. Your defense is to cry racism and Anti-Semitism.


spool32 said...

Anonymous, you bonehead. If you weren't so reading-challenged I'd be flattered you think I'm the king... but you're going to have to learn how to comprehend the written word before you call Check. I'm done here, until you start signing some name at least.

Anonymous said...

Name calling?, I am glad to be under your skin.

No my friend, How can you be a king if you are no longer on the board? You were too weak. You were taken out by a pawn. Pawns have power and can remove a king. You have not posted since I checked you. Before, you were a regular.


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