Jim Crow Museum
Speaking to the racial aspect, which can be strongly argued if you look at history:
Just like with the Jewish people in WWII Germany, who were also depicted as animals (rats worthy of extermination), it is a way of demeaning a group
and creating justification for violence, impoverishment and the perception of "they are less than, not equal, therefore they deserve less than, not
Anytime I see African Americans portrayed as animals, it disturbs me (or any group for that matter, barring the elephant/donkey of our political
parties - that is where the intent of the image comes in). Belgium may not have our same imagery war from the Jim Crow Era, but they did see
propaganda against the Jews. I can understand a lack of sensitivity on their part to our cultural divide.
So, the intent of the newspaper may not have been overtly racist, but given American History, it was in extreme bad taste and brought to mind for me
the ugly past that still lingers - ask "why monkeys - why not wolves or eagles or mice or rats?" What does "monkey" in this context convey? And why
would they apply that to two black people? Where else have we seen that kind of imagery? What attitude and actions arose in the past from such
So, my mind goes to the song "Strange Fruit" by Billie Holiday, written about black men's bodies hanging from the lynching tree. My mind goes to a
Jim Crow Era image of a row of naked black babies with the words "Alligator Bait" underneath them. One could also see the pictures of Jewish people
depicted as sinister, greedy rats. The goal of these images are the same.
That's what came to my mind when I saw the image of our President and First Lady depicted as monkeys - not everyone will see it that way and I'm not
here to judge other's reactions, only to share what came up for me when I saw that. I know American Presidents have been depicted as many things by
opposing political parties, by foreign press, etc. Call me "too sensitive," or whatever, it just brought up horrible things in my mind.
ETA: I just discovered pictures of President Bush being depicted as a monkey, mostly by opposing political groups. It is still in bad taste for me =
I didn't find them particularly funny. The intent of the pictures was the same - to diminish and dehumanize in a tasteless manner. The only thing it
lacked was a history of violence, oppression and segregation attached to that image by its use on all white people to depict that entire race, to
dehumanize ALL white people and thereby justify legalizing lesser treatment, violence, poverty and "lesser" status. I guess that's the difference for
me - with Bush, it is a one-individual image, with Obama, it is attached to a deep history. I hope that makes sense.
edit on 25-3-2014 by
AboveBoard because: more info.