Wednesday, May 02, 2007
Damned If You Do...
Barak Obama is getting nothing but flack about his religion. Some are worried that his middle name sounds too Muslim, that his last name rhymes with Osama. Others are concerned that he's too tight with his Christian minister. Cut him a break. It seems to me that he has quite a diverse background for understanding Christian and Muslim concerns in America and the world over.
Read more in the New York Times.
The Power of Images
It's very interesting to reflect on the political implications of seemingly simple photographs. The woman to the left is Obama's Muslim grandmother who lives in Kenya. While this photo may be an accurate depiction of her daily life, it would have been possible to present this woman in a much more dignified manner to the American public.
To picture a woman barefoot, with chickens, sends certain unavoidably negative messages and reinforces dangerous stereotypes that Americans make about "poor Africans" and American Blacks. The NYTimes must know that these associations will easily transfer to Obama himself by associating such a photo with him and his family.
While part of me argues that this photo is probably an accurate representation of Obama's grandmother and thus should be unproblematic, another part says that we must be very careful to monitor the sub-conscious messages we receive through such kinds of images. Racism is insidiously buried deep within the American consciousness. None of us are excepted, and we must take responsibility for it.
(See here for a very important essay on White privilege.)