(Trigger warning: Violent imagery of lynching below. Proceed with caution.)
I have always known President Obama’s race would a huge factor in his treatment as president and that has been confirmed over and over again. For the most part, I had been ambivalent about it.
The hoopla over the fist bump? I laughed at the silly white people and shrugged a shoulder. The corresponding New Yorker cover?
It raised an eyebrow. Seeing the president in that supposedly Middle Eastern garb bumping fists with a black militant version of his wife reminded me of the stereotypes that are pervasive about Middle Eastern people and black people. The angry black woman. The hijacking terrorist. The idea that people of color are supposedly plotting to disenfranchise people. All of that stuff. So, I submitted to memory and moved on with my life.
When Donald Trump and ‘nem started questioning Obama about his citizenship and the president felt the need to produce his birth certificate, my reaction?
This issue was just another reminder that people of color aren’t truly seen as American. White is the default and the folks in charge have no problem letting us know that we’re seen as expendable.
In all, the treatment of President Obama is a testament of how people of color are seen in this country. A picture that came across my Facebook news feed today proved that point.
Look at this. Really, look at it.
I’m sure this brought many a laugh and chuckle to Obama’s detractors, but to me, this isn’t funny. It’s downright horrifying. When I saw this picture, I sat there and stared at it for a minute. I can use many words to describe this picture but when it comes down to it, this is pure hatred. When I look at the above picture, I saw this:
Barely 50 years ago, this was still happening to black people because we dared to speak up, not submit and sometimes, just for being successful. If a black person started a business and it did better than a white business, they risked meeting this fate. Dared to look a white man in the eye or breath in a white woman’s direction? This could happen. Ida B. Wells was run out of the south because she dard to speak out against lynching after losing two of her friends to the rope. So, when I see a picture of a noose around Barack Obama’s neck, it chills my bones. It isn’t because of his politics. It isn’t because he’s a bad person. This man has been depicted with a noose around his neck because of the color of his skin. Bill Clinton was caught with a semen on his dress and publicly admitted to cheating on his wife but I doubt I will see a picture of him with his noose around his neck. Thomas Jefferson is revered and his raping of his underaged female slave is romanticized but no images of him as a terrorist or a militant. If someone went around asking for copies of George W. Bush’s birth certificate, folks would think that person is wacky. Point is, despite what “color-blind” and post-racial folks would like to believe, racism is alive and well. That target on our brown backs is still there. Even if we’re the president of the United States.
What do you think of this picture? What was your reaction when you saw it? Leave a comment!