In my previous post I lamented my generation’s involvement with race issues–now I see we are involved just in the most alienating and annoying way possible. First it was the cover of the New Yorker, then it was this fool running around with an “Obama is My Slave” t-shirt. Last week I was visually assaulted with not your average “we hate Obama here are our jokes/racist viewpoints.” Those come with the terriotory of a black man running for one of the most powerful positions in the world and many leaders of color can attest to racial onslaughts. Instead, I had to endure hipster racism: racist behavior that is categorized as ironic humor in an attempt to “make people think about the issues.”
However, I’m not getting the joke for the following reasons:
1. You’re Preaching to the Choir: The attention is now on you, not on Obama. People who truly believe that Obama is a muslim terrorist plotting to destroy America are a: probably not reading your magazine b. not going to be swayed by a magazine. Their fears, however irrational, are rooted in personal values that cannot be changed by a cartoon. The only people who will find your irony funny are people who already share your values.
2. It plays up stereotypes: why are “muslim” and “black activist” being thrown around like racial slurs? Without deconstructing these categories and merely attempting to show how they dont apply to the Obamas, the implication is that something is wrong people who are muslim or black activists effectively alienating a significant portion of the country.
3. It’s alienating: Aside from alienating muslims, black activists, and conservatives alike, making people angry causes them to seek support and dialogue with people who share their background. Since when does making fun of conservative idealogy make conservatives want to sit down with liberals and talk about their feelings? Why would a white woman wearing an “Obama is my Slave” tshirt make blacks want to reach across the table? The approach is simply out of touch with reality.
With no change or progress coming about because of this “humor” it ends up making matters worse and diverting from the issues.