Tuesday, October 21, 2008

President Obama's face will be on food stamps!

If I had a buck for every time republican/conservative commentators bemoaned Obama &/or the Obama campaign's "playing of the race card"...

Nope. No racism here! Just good ol' fashion humor! "Good ol' boy" humor:)

The Press Enterprise reports that Republican Woman's Group president, Diane Fedele, published a newsletter "depicts Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama surrounded by a watermelon, ribs and a bucket of fried chicken, prompting outrage in political circles... The October newsletter by the Chaffey Community Republican Women, Federated [a 200 member group] says if Obama is elected his image will appear on food stamps — instead of dollar bills like other presidents. The statement is followed by an illustration of “Obama Bucks” — a phony $10 bill featuring Obama’s face on a donkey’s body, labeled “United States Food Stamps.”

What's awesome is that some? many? of the Republican women's group members criticized the image as racist, which prompted Fedele to issue an apology.

Fedele's apology included a statement that she "doesn't think in racist terms" because, at one point, she supported Alan Keyes, an African American Republican who ran for president (!!!)

Uh huh. 

But that's ok! Because she has a gay friend. 

Clearly, Palin isn't homophobic or heterosexist. 

For that matter, neither is the political party to which she belongs because they too have gay family members and friends -- there are gay Republicans in office! I mean, they haven't forced the Log Cabin Republicans to relinquish their GOP membership cards. There will be *no* Republican movement to force the federal and state government to recognize the full citizenship rights of gays or lesbians, bisexuals, and certainly never, transgenders -- not this year (or next year) anyway.

But that's alright -- cuz they all have gay friends (or at least have a Republican friend who has a gay friend, which is pretty much the same thing).


Please note: With regard to Fedele, the "Obama buck" woman -- having supported a black man's political campaign *once* or 20,000 times, having *a* black friend or 2 or 500 black friends, *does not* mean a person isn't racist against black people.

Fedele also had the nerve to say she *didn't know* that the watermelon, fried chicken, kool-aid, bbq ribs image was plucked from a (historically) racist stereotype of African Americans.

She didn't know??? 

There isn't much in the realm of racist, sexist, classist, heterosexist, abelist, xenophobic (etc.,) behavior/speech that surprises me -- but the "Obama buck" watermelon-fried chicken stuff could have been plucked straight out of Ku Klux Klan propagandist material from either 1878 or 1948 or 2008. The image is a model of naked, bald-face, unapoletic racism. When I use the term "unapologetic," I use it to signify how "far" the U.S., and particularly some/far too many white folks -- as the bearers of the wealth of racial privilege and power in the U.S. -- have (or more accurately, have not) evolved with regard to the way they conceive people of color.

In the year 2008 -- a significant historical moment for many reasons, including the *reality* that a white woman (Hillary Clinton) and a black man (Barack Obama) entered the presidential race and got farther than any other contending Democratic candidates -- this in a context of continuing institutional sexism and racism. (It is important to identify the economic status of both candidates -- I don't believe either of them would've gotten as far as they had if they weren't filthy rich). And now, that black man -- Barack Obama --  could very well be the next president of the United States, in part, because a significant number of white people choose to support him.

So much has changed.

Yet too much has stayed the same.

Nope. No stirring up of racial fears here:)

Racialicious blogger Latoya Peterson drew my attention to the "Obama bucks" image -- read more here.


Anonymous said...

Oh, come on. Cut her some slack, she may really not have known.

Anonymous said...

Seriously? Aurelius, of course she knew. If she didn't know, it wouldn't have been funny, it would have been random, and she would have been confused and she wouldn't have sent it out lest she be bombarded by a bunch of emails from confused Republicans who didn't "get it."

Like if I put McCain's face on a dollar bill with an image, of milk, pineapple, and a hamburger it wouldn't be making the rounds right now. Because people wouldn't "get it." Because there wouldn't be anything to get--i.e. it wouldn't be tapping into the any sort of racist stereotypes.

She got it. It was intentional. It was racist. She was called on it and now she is denying and making excuses. How original.


S said...

It seems quite impossible that the maker of the image did not fully understand the connotation of the items in correlation to Obama's image. If she didn't know, then she has no business heading up ANY group, let along one that forms political opinion. Unless, of course, she's trying to prove that her group, the Republican Women's group, is full of intentionally ignorant women. Though, if the VP pick is any indication....well, gosh darn it....

butchrebel said...

aurelius: Thank you for reading & commenting *and*

"Cut her slack?"

1st) Diane Fedele doesn't need *me* to cut her any slack because, at the end of the day -- whether her racism has been identified or not -- she will still be a white woman with enough wealth to be a homemaker. She doesn't need me to cut her any slack because the world does that for her every single moment of every single day in the form of "white privilege."

You should be *asking her* to cut me and other people of color some slack by "signing up" to become white allies in the struggle against racism, and thus, working -- self-consciously and deliberately -- to reduce the benefits they receive (unknowingly & unquestioningly) from the racist oppression of people of color.

2nd) As a person of color, I will *never* cut anyone slack who does something so blatantly bigoted *and* doesn't have the strength of self to A) admit they made a mistake, B) declare that they see the error of their ways and C) commit to purging themselves of their bigotry and choose to become an ally -- rather than a complicit -- in the struggle against oppression.

With regard to racism, in particular -- far too often white people hold up a banner of denial when their racism is challenged. Frequently, white folks claim that they *did not know* that they said or did anything wrong (or racist) -- and ultimately, their denial slows or bars progress in dismantling individual *and* institutional racism.

White liberals engage in racist denial so do white Republicans, white people from disenfranchised groups do this -- such as white queers, poor, working-class & lower middle class whites...

Unfortunately, denying one's bigoted statements/behaviors is not exclusive to white folks -- people of all races, genders, sexual identities, class backgrounds etc., engage in this practice -- we deny -- when what we need to do is say:

"You're right, I'm sorry, I'll think about what I said/did and try really hard not to do it again. I will also try to educate others so that they don't repeat these bigoted words/practices."

Each of us can choose to be part of the solution or part of the problem.

Fedele chose to be part of the problem when she issued the newsletter. She chose to be part of the problem when she denied being aware of the "Obama bucks" image's racism.

Her fellow group members chose to part of the solution when they refused complicity by telling her they did not want that racist garbage polluting the pages of their newsletter.

J & S: Thank you for your comments:)

Unknown said...

Of course she knew.

Only republican apologists or the blissfully ignorant would think otherwise.

Anonymous said...

I was just trying to instigate the flurry of comments that I knew would be in response to that. Only the most fundamentally ignorant person on earth could make such a comment, which I assure you I am not. I am certainly ignorant of many things, but that woman's pre-existing knowledge of those racist stereotypes is not one of them.

Anonymous said...

However, I take a modest amount of issue with this comment:
Diane Fedele doesn't need *me* to cut her any slack because, at the end of the day -- whether her racism has been identified or not -- she will still be a white woman with enough wealth to be a homemaker. She doesn't need me to cut her any slack because the world does that for her every single moment of every single day in the form of "white privilege."

Are you implying here that no white women need anyone to cut them slack? Even in the face of white privilege, many white women today struggle and suffer. Wealth is hollow of emotional satisfaction and many of them don't have even that. I will grant you here that my earlier comment pissed you off, which to some degree I meant it to even though I thought you would recognize its satire, and thus it inspired a response that was phrased incorrectly.

Anonymous said...

Hm. I see that you've emphasized the *me* portion of your statement. I agree that racist white women do not need you, a black gay woman, to cut them any slack. Institutional racism takes too much from you and gives too much to her for you to be obligated personally to cut her any slack. I retract my previous question.

butchrebel said...

"aurelius:" Thanks again for contributing to the conversation!

**It's also important to note that I specifically referred to Diane Fedele's class status -- her class status (middle, upper middle or upper class) converges with her gender and racial identity in a way that *protects* her from a wide variety of oppressions that poor and working-class white women, for example, and all women of color deal with everyday.

So, hell yeah -- white women suffer -- they suffer a lot. Especially if they are of no/low income status, and/or single mothers, and/or transgendered, white women and white transwomen with disabilities, and so on.

In other words, being a wealthy, white, married, heterosexual woman gives Fedele access to the patriarchal power and privilege of wealthy white males (like her husband and father). The aforementioned social identities also give her enough privilege to make her experience of sexism less severe (though not necessarily less *important) than poor and working-class white women and women of color of all class backgrounds.

**Actually, your comments didn't "piss" me off -- first, I didn't interpret your comment as being disrespectful. 2nd) I wasn't sure if you were being serious or not, so I took them at face value (and therefore, assumed you were serious) -- which, for me, means I try (TRY!) not to negatively judge someone who might disagree with me or challenge me.

And the statement "cut her some slack" conveys disagreement with my perspective -- and challenges my perspective.

I especially try -- try:) -- to accept, consider and respond respectfully to the person who is disagreeing with me or challenging me is A) not black, B) not queer and/or gender-nonconforming, and C) is not a person of color but a white person.

Which doesn't mean that I or any person who is targeted for oppression responds angrily to disagreement/challenge is *bad* or *wrong* for doing so *or* that their response is bad or wrong or invalid because it is communicated through any variety of rage.

People who are targeted for oppression are frequently expected to "turn the other cheek" (as one commentator stated on another blog entry) and "take the higher ground" when confronted by oppression -- that expectation is silencing, which is another way of oppressing people who are already oppressed and doing their best to deal with it.

butchrebel said...

aurelius: why would you want to provoke commentary by pissing of the folks who read my blog?

Many of the (small number of:) people who read my blog are people who are themselves targeted for various forms of oppression, including racism, sexism, heterosexism (etc.,)...

butchrebel said...

aurelius: I ask that question in a sincere way -- not out of anger.