I am married to a Spaniard. I have lived in Spain. I consider the Iberian peninsula my home away from home. But I still cringe and throw up my hands in disbelief when the country that created el esposo, keeps putting themselves on the national stage with racially provocative misdeeds.
The latest is this magazine cover from a Spanish publication called Fuera de Serie. As you can see, First Lady Michelle Obama’s face has been superimposed on the body of the famous painting of a French slave, created in 1800. The original painting, Portrait d’une négresse, now hangs in the Lourve in Paris. In addition to adding Michelle Obama’s face, the artist also added the touch of wrapping her in the American flag. In the original painting, the slave woman is draped in pure white.
Now, let’s get a few fact straight. The artist who created this image of our FLOTUS is not Spanish. She’s a French woman who has entire series of pictures where she’s photo-shopped famous people’s heads onto equally famous works of art. It’s her thing. On the other hand, it was a Spaniard who decided to select this particular image of Michelle Obama for their cover story that is headlined “Michelle Se Come Obama.” The entire article is about the incredible popularity Michelle Obama has in this country, how important her role in the upcoming election will be, and how she is a real asset to Obama’s presidency. In other words, it’s a very positive piece about FLOTUS. As a journalist then, I can only think one thing about the chosen cover image, considering the content of the story. Epic fail. Image and content are too widely divergent. In other words, the picture don’t help further the mission of the story. What’s more, taken out of the context of the artist’s other nude works of famous people, this image of our First Lady appears to have been chosen simply to shock and provoke.
It seems to me, that the editorial staff at Fuera de Seire thought they would garner a whole bunch of attention by using this image on the cover of their magazine. And look, it worked. I don’t think, however, as many people on the internet claim, that the image was used to deliberately debase and disgrace Ms. Obama or Black women the world over. I think this is another case (sigh) of Spanish people’s infinite ignorance of American racial politics. They just don’t get how deep it goes. And quite frankly, I don’t think they want to get it. Does that make it okay that they chose this image? No. Ignorance is never an excuse. And I think they should issue an apology to our First Lady. But I do not believe this was an intentionally racist act on the part of the magazine’s editorial staff. But I could be wrong.
What do you think, dear readers? Did the magazine do wrong? Was it racist or just in poor taste and kind of stupid? Maybe you think it’s a fabulous picture that should be on the cover of the magazine. I’d like to hear other people’s opinions.
I’m totally listening.