Kind of Red

February 20, 2009

Apes of Wrath

Filed under: Uncategorized — The Painted One @ 4:37 pm


New York Post Cartoon

New York Post Cartoon

This is tragic, completely unacceptable, and the “half apology” issued by the New York Post makes it more disgraceful.  Yet again, racism has reared its ugly head in the most repugnant of fashions.  I’m disappointed, but far from surprised. If anything, I am surprised it took this long for such invective to reach such a notable publication.  There is precedent for this.

As we well know, our nation still grapples with its tortured history of “the relation of the darker to the lighter races,” as evinced in part by countless images that portray African American men as “apes and [or] in [other] simian ways.”  Suffice to say the dominant image of African American men in American press, literature, theater, film and other popular mediums of expression has evolved from primitive, barbaric, sexually-charged, simple-minded brutes to mutations of those images.

What I found most reprehensible about the image was its undeniable association between The President of the United States of America to a dead chimpanzee.

As much as it is denied, the link is incontrovertible; Sean Delonas drew his now infamous cartoon the day after President Obama signed the stimulus bill into law.  As Reverend Sharpton said yesterday evening on CNN, the depiction connects a specific act (signing the stimulus bill) performed by a specific person (our President) to the actions of a crazed chimpanzee.  Mr. Delonas alleges his cartoon only alludes to the recent incident in Stamford, Connecticut where a chimpanzee attacked the best friend of its owner, but the cartoon fails to finish connecting the dots.  Where does a rouge chimpanzee fit into efforts to stimulate the economy?  Where was the link between debates of approaches to reviving the economy and pet monkeys?  The cartoon arguably would have some level of appropriateness if there were some connection to the story of the chimp and the stimulus bill (e.g. if a GOP member had called the bill monkey business), but there was no such connection.  Delonas merely left us with another dreadful image of a monkey linked to a black man.

More tragic is that the chimpanzee from the incident in Stamford was shot while mauling a white woman, which yet again makes the association so dangerous.  The animalistic portrayal of African American men typically revolved around the fear that their barbaric nature would compel them to force themselves upon white women.  Delonas’ shameless cartoon only furthers such deplorable imagery.

His cartoon also perpetuates the idea that the only way to stop the barbaric black man is to kill him.  To add insult to injury, those administering death to the raging monkey were two white police officers, which continues notions of police brutality inflicted upon black men.  As Jeff Zeleny reported around this time last year, our President has had a Secret Service detail since May of 2007 due to the frequency and severity of threats on his life.   He wore bullet-resistant clothing during his inaugural address.  His car has doors that are 6 inches thick and have bullet-proof glass in the windows.  The threat of violence is real, and one we should not make take lightly, which make Delonas’ drawing all the more inflammatory.

Members of President Obama's security detail

Members of President Obama's security detail

It is said, “The art of a people is a true mirror to their minds.” I am glad Delonas placed a mirror to his mind and those of his supporters.  I only wish that he had left the monkey business to zookeepers.


1 Comment »

  1. It is appalling what is allowed to infiltrate our news media outlets today. One would think that by now people would be more accepting of the fact that we have a black President, who was chosen by the people, and there is nothing to do about it now. I still don’t understand why people get so stuck on the the color of skin when we all have the same blood. To relate our President to a monkey, and to have the New York [Post] halfheartedly apolgize is like a slap in the face. Black or white, it is time to stand behind our President, realizing that his successes dictate our successes, and his failure could mean our own as a country. People place too much emphasis on skin color and other factors that don’t even matter.

    Comment by Sylvana B — February 23, 2009 @ 9:40 pm | Reply

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