What’s so militant about an afro hairstyle? That’s what some curly-haired folks are asking themselves about now. The discussion was sparked by that offensive New Yorker magazine illustration depicting Michelle Obama dressed as a terrorist with her hair in an afro.
In the drawing, which appears on the cover of the July 21st issue, she also was wearing camouflage pants and has an AK-47 on her back. An ammo belt is slung across Michelle's shoulder as she fist bumps a turban-wearing Sen. Barack Obama. In reality, the Harvard-educated lawyer is known for her her classic, Jackie O.-style. But the illustrator chose to satirize her by putting her hair in a natural style - a small but significant detail that hasn’t escaped the notice of some observers.
The New Yorker's editor has been defending the drawing, saying it's an attempt to poke fun at all the misinformation that's been spread about the Obamas and their supposed lack of patriotism.
But the humor's lost on a lot of folks. Emailers to a website devoted to the subject of curly hair called Naturallycurly.com, commented about the parody yesterday saying things such as: “What’s up with Michelle’s afro? Does afro=angry militant. (sic) I wear an afro sometimes.” Another wrote, “I’m with Frau, I don’t like the picture of Michelle with that afro and AK 47. Afros do not equal militant or hatred for America.”
The founders of naturallycurly.com rushed a previously-planned article on the politics of hair onto their site and also issued this statement: "While the cartoon is meant to make fun of the scare tactics and misinformation being lobbed at Obama, it reinforces negative stereotypes about both Muslims and natural hair. We’re all for exposing the stupidity of fear mongering, but playing on people’s stereotypes and insecurities is not a positive trend for a democracy. NaturallyCurly appreciates cartoonist Barry Blitt’s attempt at satire, but we fear the image will be used as fodder for close-minded individuals who don't understand the cartoon’s true purpose."