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)