The recent E-mail sent by Orange County Committee member, Mary Davenport, is not the first racist picture depicting President Obama as part monkey and unfortunately will probably not be the last. It appears to be the first known one disseminated by a political representative. Davenport says that she thought the E-mail was well, ”amusing” but I could come up with a better word. Those who don’t think the display of images of blacks as monkeys are racist are in denial of their own subconscious or conscious racial views. And here’s the reason why blacks are offended by such images.
Historically, dating back to slavery, blacks were not considered full human beings. Blacks were counted as 3/5 of a human. So, what do you think the other 2/5 would consist of? The three-fifths compromise is found in Article 1, Section 2, Paragraph 3 of the United States Constitution. And while its purpose may have been to dilute the power of the southern states and representation in government, the US Constitution still recognized that blacks were less than human. Following the Civil War and the abolition of slavery by the thirteenth amendment to the United States Constitution in 1865, the three-fifths clause became moot. The fourteenth amendment to the US Constitution in 1868 later superseded the 3/5 clause and counted the whole of person excluding “ Indians”. And yet, almost 150 years later, white Americans are still disseminating photos and caricatures depicting blacks as half or part human.
The latest depicture shared to us by Davenport is not the first showing President Obama or Michelle Obama as part animal. Beginning in 2009, such despicable images began appearing. In February, 2009, Barnes and Noble in Coral Gables, Florida , had a display with books of President Obama and a monkey book featured prominently in the middle of the display. And although Barnes and Noble apologized and stated that an unknown person had inserted the book on monkeys in the same display with President Obama, it shows the backward thinking of individuals. Then there was the caricature of Michelle Obama with monkey features in Hot Girls blog, among others. If you do a Google search, you will find many more examples.
What does all of this say or mean? Despite people’s assertions that these photos are amusing, one has to think to whom are they amusing. I think that I can say unequivocally that I know of no blacks that would think a photo of a black person displayed as part monkey is amusing. And for those white persons, who think otherwise, ask your black friends, assuming you have any, what they think. They won’t think it’s funny or amusing either. On purpose, I have not depicted any images that are discussed.
Debbie Hines is a trial lawyer and legal and political commentator. She also contributes to the Huffington Post. She addresses issues on race and women. She holds a juris Doctorate from George Washington University Law School and a BA in American history from the University of Pennsylvania.