Thursday, May 29, 2008

The Attempt to Dehumanize Michelle Obama

I struggled with writing this piece, because I thought for awhile that I should just let it go. That I shouldn't spread this filth, but then I realized that not confronting it was a problem.

When I first saw this over at, my mouth went open. Not that I didn't expect it, I did. I've said from the beginning that the entire Obama candidacy would be a Racial Rorschach Test for the country, and that a whole lot that had been bubbling beneath the surface would surface in this campaign.

The problem with this horrific picture is that it was published on DailyKos without someone going, ' um, I wonder if I should post this?'

See, this is what I feel is a residual effect of the active racebaiting brought on by Camp Hillpatine.

It's not that I didn't expect this kind of horror.

It's just that I believed it would be coming from the GOP.

There is NO WAY that any logical person would have posted this picture of Michelle Obama.

I'm not going to hold my breath waiting for the White Feminist Establishment to defend Michelle Obama. The better assumption, until proven otherwise, is that Michelle's on her own, and those of us out here, of all colors, who admire and respect Michelle - well, we're going to have to do our best to defend her, which is why I'm speaking out.

The image is wrong because it is diminishing, disrespecting, dehumanizing.

Tied to a tree? With the KLAN around her? In a RED DRESS? With a BRANDING IRON honing in on her back?

Just ONE of these images would be enough.

All 4 is sensory overload.
1. Tied to a tree
Do I need to go over what Black folk and trees means? The history of this country is littered with the violence against Black Men and Women who were treated as sport as they were hung from trees. Didn't Jena teach you anything that it's just not acceptable?

2. The KLAN
I don't even believe I need to explain why the image of the Klan is upsetting.

3. In the RED DRESS

Red is the color for harlots. Red is the color of a loose woman. Once again diving back into that stereotype that the only use a Black woman has is ON HER BACK as some receptacle for when the White Slavemaster strolled down to the slave quarters. The vulnerability that the Black woman not only had no virtue that a White man was to respect, but that she didn't have ANY VIRTUE PERIOD.


We brand ANIMALS in this country. In this image, any thoughts that Michelle was HUMAN is gone. She's no better than the cow grazing in the field, who is also branded.

But, Michelle Obama IS a human being. She is a woman. A loving wife. A devoted mother. A successful professional. Intelligent. Smart. She is all this, and more. And, it seems as if she's going to be under attack from now until the election, so those of us who support her, have to continue to be vigilant. I do believe we wouldn't be as weary; that we would have been more rested for the General Election, IF we hadn't of had to fight the RACEBAITING IN A DEMOCRATIC PARTY PRIMARY.

I've said it before,and I'll say it again...

It's not that I expected Obama to go through this campaign without having to deal with racebaiting on some level.

It's just that I didn't expect it to COME FROM ANOTHER DEMOCRAT.

The GOP never pretended to be Black folks' friends.

So, we were just supposed to roll over and let Camp Hillpatine racebait Obama from one end of the country to another without speaking up?


But, for those of you who were SILENT as Obama was being racebaited during this time...

Just continue to keep your mouths SHUT when the GOP does it, because you no longer have any moral credibility. Your SILENCE spoke volumes and now has rendered you SUSPECT.

I thought about, on the off chance, that Malia and Sasha saw that image of their mother- my chest tightened. I thought about my 8 week-old great-niece; as a Black woman, will she STILL have to be subject to such foul and racist imagery when she matures? Imagery designed to strip her of her dignity and self-respect. I say no. We will have to confront these foul images when they come up. We cannot let them pass. We must label them UNACCEPTABLE on all levels. We must expose them for the ugliness that they are, and continue to have the Obamas' backs.

UPDATE: In the comments over at JJP, some have pointed out to me some of the other work of the poster. I'm coming down on the image. Do you realize that IF I had actually seen that on DailyKos, I wouldn't have been able to read the diary, because I just would have been stopped in my tracks? It might have been the best diary in the world, but that image would have stopped me from reading it.

And, I believe the poster would have been better off just posting the picture - as is.

Without a diary.

That would have been more powerful.

I don't think he understood the true extent of his imagery.

The image alone was a diary.

But, I can't get past the belief that the racebaiting during this campaign has lowered the bar. The same way I believe the Hillpatine South Dakota comments on Friday relate to the 'Obama Assassination' talk later on Fox. All part of the same cesspool.


Ricketson said...


This is the first that I've heard about this picture. While I agree with you that the creation of this picture was Very Bad, I think you're misinterpreting the creator's intention.

I think his intention was not to dehumanize Obama, but to create sympathy for her. The image is depicting her as the victim of a bunch of thugs who are trying to dehumanize her. I think the same is apparent from the text accompanying the image.

With that being said, the creator is a complete #!%* (insensitive moron).

I think the worst to be said was that he promoting his stupid little essay by exploiting Obama's image and the traumatic memory of systematic violence against blacks. He knew exactly how shocking this image would be.

rikyrah said...

I DO understand the intent of the creator.

I just don't think that he understood the Racial C-4 he was handling.

That's why I amended my post to include that I believe his ENTIRE POST could have been this picture.

That's how powerful it is.

there are no words that could accompany this post that would be as powerful as the picture.

Imagery is powerful. Sometimes you don't realize just how powerful. I don't think he did.

DC said...

I find racism is definitely, as you have stated, 'bubbling' to the surface during this presidential candidacy race.

I still can't believe that people would even stoop to this imagery to portray a highly charged issue such as racism. Truly amazing, and not in a good way.