In an odd twist, an image depicting First Lady Michelle Obama as a nineteenth-century, French, slave woman with one of her breasts exposed has appeared on the cover of the latest edition of the Spanish magazine Fuera De Seri. The photo-shopped face of Mrs. Obama is supposedly based on the painting known as the Portrait d’une negresse by French
artist Marie-Guillemine Benoist.
Now as unappealing as most African-Americans here in the United States will probably find this image of Mrs. Obama to be, apparently the intent behind this peculiar presentation was to pay tribute to the First Lady’s worldwide popularity and her nurturing strength, as she uses her power to uplift her husband to the presidency.
Now it seems like a nice gesture, but looks are not always accurate. For instance, what does it say about African-American women, the First Lady precisely, when the best way to pay homage to the perseverance of the African-American woman is through slavery?
Why does it have to be slavery? Is this depiction uniquely exclusive to African-American women? Would anyone dare depict a White First Lady as a slave, and if they did would it have the same effect, or would it even send the same message?
Or, is a depiction of an African-American in the throes of captivity still the most easily digestible, red meat of a not-so appalled public? Because if it is, the not-so appalled convictions of today haven’t progressed very far from the not appalled at all convictions of the good, old days of slavery.
The next bewildering item that needs to be addressed is the topless aspect of the image. Why have a semi-topless image of the First Lady? What is that supposed to represent? Is it supposed to be symbolic of the proverbial, traditional imagery of big mamma’s
willingness to nurture the world, the United States, the White slave master, or President Obama with her life-giving breasts?
If this is the French idea of flattery, it’s time to go back to the French, drawing board. If they really want to pay tribute to the First Lady, they should simply show her as the First Lady in her daily capacity, and that should be more than enough to get the point across. Show the First Lady exercising, spending time with children and military families,
or show her working in her garden.
When you have the first African-American First Lady in U.S. history, why go back to the imagery of slavery for any reason at all? In case the orchestrators of this operation haven’t figured this out yet, the best thing about slavery is getting free of it, and depicting any African-American back in slavery is a repulsive way to pay any kind of a tribute.
Who signs off on this kind of crap, because if you go out and ask most African-Americans or most people how they want to be portrayed, there are probably very few who will have slave perched at the top of their lists?