The New Yorker

31 May

The New Yorker Cover: Barack Obama


This may be one of the most intentionally racist pieces I have featured here on the blog. While many of the other images we have discussed have been perceived as racist due to historical aspects– this one isn’t beating around the bush. It is intentionally attempting to illustrate a political standpoint of racism, ignorance and anger.

Conservative radicals have attempted to portray Barack Obama as a Al-Qaeda affiliated, anti-American outsider who landed his way into the White House.

The above image shows just that.

Obama is shown in traditional Islamic garb standing in the oval office. He is portrayed as rather large headed, pompous and as though he had pulled the wool over the eyes of America. The New Yorker is attempting to illustrate that with the election of Barack Obama, we have thrown Americanism into the fire, and have nearly surrendered ourselves to Osama bin Laden  who is featured above the fireplace in a portrait in a similar fashion to the displays of previous presidents who had passed.

Furthermore, we’re able to see the illustration of Michelle Obama as a gun toting, vengeful, woman in a position of power. She appears greedy and misplaced.

The New Yorker is blatantly telling voters that this is the American change they voted for and this is the change they should be prepared for.

The issue is that many American people are very uneducated on the facts of Barack Obama’s heritage and what he stands for and could very well accept this illustration as a facet of truth and knowledge rather than satire and bad taste– it is one of the faults of people taking media portrayals very seriously.

Racialicious author Latoya Peterson noticed that the writing and editing staff, who was predominately white, may have had an influence on the fact that this was published:

“I noticed that there were no senior editors of color; the people of color in editorial capacity were already superstar writers before coming to the magazine (Malcolm Gladwell) or they were writing for the entertainment section (Hilton Als, who writes the theater column.) The former PR director, and African American woman, left the position. In other words, there’s no one of color to at least talk Remnick off the ledge of this kind of glib bigotry. (Not saying that having a person of color guarantees a firm commitment to anti-racism efforts. But I hope for a fighting chance.) And whichever white folks pride themselves on being anti-racist or at least race-tolerant at the magazine either didn’t get to Remnick in time or simply chose to shut up and run for cover from the mounting fallout. Or choose to entertain themselves with the anger of people of color.”

So, if there were representatives of color in the editing positions at The New Yorker would we have seen this published? Or would these employees be in a position where they are unable to speak out due to workplace fear and inequality?


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