Recently in the opinions section of a Belgian Newspaper, one article, said to have been submitted from Russian President Vladimir Putin, shows the Obamas depicted as apes. On the picture it says, “First Black President, starts selling weed.” I thought this was a really interesting thing to bring up because it related to the Eberhardt studies that we looked at in class relating Blacks to Apes. Many people make the implicit association of blacks to apes and this cartoon is just reinforcing that stereotype.
One person commented on the cartoon saying, “This was in the satire portion of the newspaper, it was supposed to be funny, not racist and it is a shame that people can’t take a joke.” And someone else agreed saying, “Yea, the word racism is thrown around so easily, not everything has to be racist.” In this circumstance the picture definitely has some racist under tones, considering that people actually associate black people as less than human, and that they are more like apes. When you are portraying the president of our country in this way, I am not surprised that it would raise some controversy.
It is also interesting that someone said, “White people are also portrayed as apes, look at recent pictures of George W. Bush. If you find it racist to portray people with black skin as such [sic] but have no problem with portraying people of other skin color like that, then I’d have to point out your hypocrisy.” It definitely carries a different connotation when your demonstrate someone of color as an ape than a white man. That is picking up on the implicit biases of blacks and apes, and it does not matter if they demonstrate a white president as an ape also.
The picture also draws attention to the association of black people and crime and drugs, stating that Obama is selling weed. Regardless of this article was presented as satire or not, it is definitely a form of racism and I do not think things like this should be able to be published in a newspaper for everyone to see because it is only reinforcing these stereotypes to the public. What are your reactions to the image? What implications could this have for Belgian readers and their impressions of the United States, and of black people in general?