Friday, May 23, 2008

"Ironic Intent" Doesn't Make Racism OK

Earlier this week, Daily Kos posted an image of Michelle Obama being branded by the KKK. The image accompanied a post that was ostensibly about how shameful it is that the media has been going after Michelle Obama. It was supposedly meant to highlight the racism of the attacks. Unfortunately, Kos diarist ONECITIZEN didn't see that using a racist image for 'ironic' purposes does not make it OK.

As SheCodes of Black Women Vote explains:
What makes some white people think that 'humorous' lynching references are acceptable? Would they applaud imagery of Joe Leiberman's wife being tortured and cooked alive in a Nazi oven in response to a slip of the tongue she may have made? Would they accept a picture of Laura Bush hanging from a gallows?...

To certain people, this picture is cute, 'edgy', and 'ironic'. They are 'defending' the middle class by 'pointing out' racism. Underneath it all, as usual, the black woman's degradation is simply a tool to be exploited to further their own agendas.
I might add that presenting a woman's torture in a sexual way is nausea-inducing as well. Kos has taken the image down, which is good and hopefully shows he's listening to criticism. But, wow, guys - you really need to be better than that.

SheCodes goes on to call for the formation of an Anti-Defamation League and Political Action Committee for and by African American women. If you are an African American female, go check it out. For those of us outside that community, this is yet another in a tragically long line wake-up calls. We need to be better allies, and check ourselves to make sure that we aren't hurting people with backgrounds different from ours.

UPDATE: The original screen capture can be seen here, but it strikes me as odd that Kos himself hasn't addressed this. I can't decide if I've been punked and the whole thing was created as a smear campaign in the first place, or if this is an uncharacteristic refusal to take responsibility. Does anyone know any more about this story?


natalie said...

If Kos and Co. really want to show that they've listened, they need to write an apology that shows they understand why the picture was hateful. None of this brushing it under the mat BS.

La Pobre Habladora said...

You know, since a search for 'One Citizen' pulls nothing from Kos, but does point to a conservative site, I'm starting to wonder if this ever really came from anyone associated with Daily Kos in the first place. I've written Kos an email asking about the image. We'll have to see if anything comes back.