Sunday, July 20, 2008

Obama is my...Slave?

This afternoon, I checked my email and found another disheartening story about ignorance in connection with Barack Obama. (thanks to Naima for bringing this to my attention)

Doron Braunshtein, an Israeli-born designer, created a $69 t-shirt that says "Obama is my Slave". WHAT?! According to the New York edition of Metro News, a 25 year old graduate student was wearing the T-shirt in UNION SQUARE and was confronted by 4 teenage girls. They pushed her, pulled her earphones out of her ears and spit on her. Now this person wants to sue the designer for "all he's got". So much is wrong with the whole situation, I don't even know where to begin.

I understand that everyone doesn't support Obama, but I don't understand why people would feel that this reference to slavery is an appropriate way to display their displeasure with his candidacy. At least create a T-shirt about legitimate concerns like his 'lack of experience'. Why insult him and Black people everywhere with such an awful slogan? In the Metro News article, the designer, which here means, placing not-so-witty phrases on t-shirts and selling them for 3 times what they're worth, claims that "his outrageous design reflects not his views but those of 'ordinary WASPs'.” Later in the article, we learn that he "can't stand Obama" because he reminds him of Adolf Hitler. Wow.

Moving on to the alleged beat-down of the lovely lady wearing the shirt. Maybe it's naive idealism on my part, but I highly doubt that an educated person would wear a shirt like this. In Union Square of all places. It just doesn't make sense. If she did, I'm not sure why she'd sue the designer of the shirt. He didn't force her to wear the shirt that day. And I can't imagine why she'd be surprised that people were upset about the shirt. In fact, she's pretty lucky that something worse didn't happen to her. Some of the other bloggers think this may all just be a publicity stunt, but either way people are still buying this and other awful, overpriced shirts. Braunshtein claims he's sold 1,200 shirts that say "Who Killed Obama?" Clearly, there's a lot more ugliness to be unveiled before this election is over.

Original article:

Other blogs posts:

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


Barack and Michelle Obama are gracing the latest cover of the New Yorker magazine, but I get the feeling that they might not be too thrilled about it. The latest cover of the premier magazine features Senator Obama dressed in traditional Islamic clothing while giving his wife Michelle their trademark fist pound. Add a burning American flag, a portrait of Osama Bin Laden, and over exaggerated facial features (with a dash of hyper sexualization) and we have our selves a nice gumbo of racism, ignorance and regression. Anyone hungry?

The picture is problematic for so many reasons. The image clearly suggests that the Obama family is anti-American…Now are they anti American or anti status quo? Let’s tease this out a bit. Senator Obama is the only black Senator in the U.S. Senate and the first African American to be the presumptive presidential nominee for a major party…I’m inclined to go with anti status quo.

The image also feeds into the notion that Michelle Obama is an angry black woman or unpatriotic. Despite her education and career accolades, her accomplishments have been devalued on account of her race and sex. A strong, black woman is often labeled as bitter or angry, which is a SERIOUS problem. This image suggests that women of color should not exercise the same rights enjoyed by others; it also limits their right to freedom of expression. The fact that the New Yorker thinks that it was fine to dress Michelle Obama in Army gear and a gun is indicative that we have a long way to go.

Aside from the image being entirely inaccurate in its portrayal of Barack Obama as Muslim, it is also inaccurate in its less than subtle message about followers of the Islamic faith. The New Yorker cover clearly suggests that followers of the Islamic faith are unpatriotic. There are four million Muslims in this country who love and appreciate their rights as Americans and deplore the actions of Osama bin Laden, yet they are unjustly devalued, and in turn, denied full citizenship.

Yes, everyone does have the right to free speech. This does, however, infer that one has the right to question, protest, or react when attacked or discriminated against. Jeffrey Goldberg from The Atlantic stated, "As someone who appreciates a good joke, as well as a bad joke, it bothers me that people are reacting so dyspeptically to the cover.” Hmm, now why would anyone be bothered by an oppressive image with offensive racial and sexual undertones that infringes upon the right to citizenship? I don’t know…

(Thanks Naima for the link)