The Atlanta-Constitution is reporting that a suburban Atlanta bar owner is selling “Obama ‘08 Curious George” t-shirts. The bar owner, Mike Norman, asserts that the t-shirts are not intended to offend. According to the report, Norman both “acknowledges the image’s Jim Crow roots” yet “sees nothing wrong with depicting a prominent African-American as a monkey.” About a dozen protesters gathered outside to challenge the racism of the t-shirts(pictured here, photo credit), yet the bar owner is not responsive to these charges. In fact, he seems emboldened by them. Apparently, he believes that he’s providing a public service, reminding people they have a right to offend. “This is my marketing tool,” he said.
dudes…it’s pretty obvious that he kinda DOES look like Curious George ‘obama in ‘08′ tee from Moe Wampum with a Curious George/Obama mashup!
Jonas, depending on what physical features you accent, Curious George looks more like a white child than any adult.
It is all in the mind of the beholder, and whites for a long time have intentionally associated Black Americans with apes and monkeys, as part of the racist rationalizing of oppressing them. Those you oppress, you rationalize as inferior, you animalize, to make your feel better. That is why the T-Shirt is highly racist and offensive–knowing history once again is helpful.
What makes the event really sad (it certainly is troubling on a whole host of levels) is that this isn’t even original racism (not that there is much). Earlier this political cycle a caller on the Rush Limbaugh show called in and said Obama looked like Curious George (http://blogs.abcnews.com/politicalradar/2008/03/limbaugh-caller.html). Rush in his ever present disingenuous nature claimed to not who Curious George was, until his staffers informed him, and then went on the blame blacks/democrats/everyone but white males for being offended by his statements.
Given this incident was well publicized; I doubt very much that the gentleman selling the shirts was unaware of it. To make matters worse the statement had already been deemed offensive by even the conservative media. Thus the individual’s claim of “ignorance” about the offensive nature of the claim is laughable.
Perhaps it demonstrates a deeper subconscious level of racism in this individual: Perhaps the Rush incident had lapsed from his memory (or his conscious memory) and his connection between Obama and a impish, childlike monkey (the Curious George stories themselves are racially problematic) that is always making the life of a benevolent white father figure difficult was a seemingly natural one for him. If this is the case, then again, I find it highly troubling as it demonstrates: a) the impacts of minor everyday instances of racism; b) the latent socialization that occurs in many seemingly innocuous children’s stories; and c) the general lack of empathy present in average whites.
He dOES look like the monkey. The ears the mouth snd nose area, the hairline…. yep it’s him. We may have found the missing link. It’s a joke get over it you bunch of panty waist sissys
Thanks Aaron, for your comment referring to the “unoriginal” quality of this sort of racism. You’re right, of course, to refer back to Rush Limbaugh who seems to be such a reliable source for this kind of rhetoric.
And, Will, you seem to be making Aaron’s (and Joe’s and lots of others of us here) point very nicely about the deep level of racism in the culture as a whole. You might consider reading more (here and elsewhere) and in ways that challenge your own deeply held racism.