Tuesday, July 15, 2008

I've Never Bought a Copy of the New Yorker.

And now I don't think I ever will.

Some of my friends read the New Yorker, but it's never appealed to me. I find it dry, boring, really. The humor pieces are a chore to read, the short stories drag. It almost seems like required reading for adults, like people feel that they have to read it because it will make them sophisticated, informed, and cultured. Whatever.

I first saw this week's controversial cover while I was waiting at the airport yesterday. I found it revolting then, but now that I've read a myriad of opinions on it -- coming from various media outlets and the New Yorker staff itself -- I think I feel more disappointed than anything else.

I get what political cartoons are supposed to do. And I get that one of the great things about this country of ours is that people are free to basically print and say whatever they want. I also get that this picture is supposed to dispel the myths surrounding the Obama campaign -- the idea that Michelle Obama is anti-American, and that Obama is secretly Muslim and in cahoots with Osama Bin-Laden. I get all that.

But

There are so many things wrong with this picture, particularly the very crude depiction of Michelle Obama and the idea that a black woman who has natural hair is automatically militant rather than merely celebrating our distinct beauty. Last time I checked, Michelle Obama wasn't running for office, and I find this attack very cruel and unwarranted.

For years -- and these are years that are not in our nation's distant past -- images depicting crudely exaggerated features of racial minorities were prevalent in the media. And not in a 'wow, we're so evolved and liberal, that we can joke about these things' way, but in a 'wow these people look really weird' kind of way.
And please, please, please stop it with the, 'hey, one token black guy says it's okay, so it's okay!' Because conservatives have been doing that with Ward Connelly for years, and that explanation doesn't mean a thing to me.

And since when has being Muslim become something to use in a caricature? Wow. Stay classy.

So to the staff of the New Yorker, get off your dismissive 'it's no big deal' high horse, take accountability for your actions, and hear this:

I'm a real live person, and though I am not the one black journalist you spoke to at the Chicago Tribune, I am a young black woman who has had to endure racial stereotypes much like the ones that your cartoon depicts, and I am offended and hurt by your cartoon.

I agree with a commenter from a recent New York Magazine post:

"The New Yorker was trying so hard to be clever, it forgot to be smart."


That is all.

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