What really gets me about the Clinton campaign’s release of Barack Obama dressed as a Somali (which is meant to terrify Americans with visions of towelheaded terrorists running the country, I assume) is that another black person, Maggie Williams, would be involved. If the Clinton campaign is behind it. Maggie Williams as you might recall Hillary Clinton’s new campaign manager and therefore the buck stops with her with any racist, hate-filled stereotyping aimed at a fellow person of color. She should go down in the HNIC Hall of Fame for this one which if it can be lain at her door which threatens to take race relations backwards about 10 years or so.

Doesn’t look like it’s had much effect so far but something tells me that if Obama gets the nomination that we might not see the last of this and other photos from Africa. The GOP apparently has actually been conducting tests for exactly what the boundaries of racist (and sexist) political messaging might be. Ugh.

But where are other black leaders in speaking out against this black on black smear?

JJP reader Talented Tenth puts it best, I think:

I just saw the Drudgereport photo. I am sickened.

Less than 48 hours after Hilary Clinton attended the
State of the Black Union event, she releases a photo
trying to compare Barack Obama to a terrorist. It is
appalling and and a huge FU to the African American
community.

I belive that the Congressional Black Caucus needs to
respond swiftly

James Clyburn – needs to get off the sidelines.

John Lewis – needs to get off the fence

Maxine Waters, Stephanie Tubbs, and Sheila Jackson Lee
- is this acceptable conduct?

Those civil rights leaders who have now turned into
politicians and corporate leaders – what do you say?

When this campaign first started we saw a Democratic
party that had a Black male, a white woman, and a
Latino male all running for the highest office of the
land. No matter who you supported, you could be proud
to be a Democrat.

In one photo, I am now ashamed.

Me too — of the silence of our leaders in the face of abhorrent color-aroused tactics promoted by one of our own.

Over at TheRoot.com (which has added Jack and Jill Politics to its blogroll, thanks!) — there’s a great opinion piece published Tuesday by Professor Melissa Harris-Lacewell of Princeton called Using Our Roots Against Us. Here’s a taste (emphasis mine):

The social death of slavery has cut off many black Americans from our ancestral narratives. During Black History Month we adopt our collective accomplishments and our common heroes as a salve against our lost personal stories. This is critically important, but there is something special about naming your own ancestors and encountering yourself in their reflections.

Yet here in Black History Month, Obama’s own black history is being used as a weapon against him. President Bush can traipse around the motherland safely encased in his armor of whiteness. No one can mistake him for a “native”. His role is simply to dispatch the White Man’s Burden with billions in abstinence-based HIV/AIDS programs and malaria-fighting mosquito netting. In a single photo, Barack can be painted as indelibly tied to a deep and mysterious, exotic and dangerous Dark Continent that produced the shame of slavery and the fear of Islamic radicalism.

Obama is vulnerable. This is the assassination that we should fear, because the Secret Service cannot protect him from it. The voters of Ohio and Texas will have to be the armored vest against these attacks. South Carolina voters soundly repudiated the Clintons for their race-baiting strategies. I believe that Ohio and Texas voters will ignore this revival of fear-based politics and embrace a new direction for American elections.

If they look carefully, these voters will not see the “scary Muslim” that this photo is supposed to evoke. They will see themselves. If they look carefully, they will see their own uniquely American stories that are tied to distant lands whose rituals they still honor and whose languages they still speak. If they look carefully, Americans will see themselves in kilts, saris, and sombreros. If they look carefully, Americans will see the way to throw off narrow, bigoted fear-mongering politics and build an expansive, hopeful patriotism that embraces the world even as it strengthens America.

‘Nuff said.

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