Spain. A country that finds its home at the southern tip of Europe, is quite magical. So they say. Known for its siestas, nightlife, and tapas, many people make that journey across the Atlantic ocean in need of a change of venue. The city breathes culture and history from the enchanting sounds of flamenco to the historical sites such as Plaza de Sol in Madrid or the Alhambra in Granada.
This sounds nice, right? If only this were the case for all people. After being mistaken for a prostitute, called negrata (Spain’s equivalent of nigger) while walking to school, and being questioned as to whether or not I had my documents, I can personally attest to the not so accepting attitudes and actions of Spaniards.
Therefore, when I caught a glimpse of our First Lady, graduate of Harvard Law, founder of Public Allies Chicago, and leader of the “Let’s Move” movement, digitally imposed onto the cover of Spanish magazine Fuera de Serie right breast exposed and wearing an ensemble very reminiscent of pre-reconstruction days, I wasn’t too surprised.
Unfortunately, that still didn’t prevent the rage from building up and exploding into an excessive outburst of profanities and expletives not fit to be voiced. To depict her in this way is blatantly, I don’t know, what is that little word that begins with an “r” and ends in “ist”? Just look at it. It is disrespectful and another example of objectification of Black women’s sexuality. This one depiction, took everything that Michelle Obama represents and packaged it into the symbol of a half naked slave and distributed it for the world to see.
According to News One, the artist who created the image, Karine Percheron-Daniels, states that the image is a part of a series that depicts other influential people nude. Percheron-Daniels goal is to create “alternative unexpected realities” in order to view these famous people in a different way.
To make things more interesting, the actual article that is accompanied with this photo actually praises Michelle Obama and her accomplishments and how her success has greatly influenced Obama’s campaign. With that being said, what made the artist or editor think that a photo shopped picture of Michelle was the best image for an article about how essential Michelle is to Barack’s reelection. It is so plainly contradictory that I question their motives and can’t help to think that this image is a reflection their true perception of Mrs. Obama.
This is not the first time that black women’s bodies have been oversexualized or reduced to just their sexual parts. Nor is this the first time that black women have been placed in degrading lower positions. In this country it is awfully funny that these two categories, promiscuous jezebel and mammy figure, are the only spaces black women can operate. Halle Berry’s Oscar vs. Octavia Spencer’s Oscar are perfect examples of the roles that are designated for Black women. Well, this incident proves viewing black women in these roles is not only national but global.
Despite one’s success, character, or accomplishments, these negative stereotypes follow us around like a shadow on a sunny day. When these acts of generalizations continue I can’t help but to wonder, why are stereotypes unshakeable? When will Gabby Douglass be appreciated and praised for her achievements as a gymnast and not her hair? When will Black women be recognized for their integrity and intelligence and not the shape of their bodies? What is it going to take for Black women in the world to be acknowledged for who they are and not another person’s interpretation? What do we have to do to invoke change?