The Huffington Post has an article out today about a 73-year-old female Colorado state worker who faces disciplinary action for sending an email with the picture above.
This image has been kicking around the Internet for over a year. The woman who emailed it should have known that sharing it at work would be problematic at best.
There is no escaping that the picture holds a racial connotation (a black man being subservient to a white woman) even though I have witness this type of scene daily on Wall Street.* Add to the mix the Obama vs. Palin dynamic and you are sure to get somebody screaming, “I’m offended”!
Was the woman who shared this email a racist? Before we can answer that question we must first realize that there are three possible things going on here. First, the obvious racial theme of the black shoe shine boy. Second there is "the Obama is Palin’s lessor at governance" theme (a non racist theme) and finally the possibility of both themes at work. With this being said, it is impossible to tell from the article what the woman who shared the email latched onto when she sent the picture.
*When I worked on Wall Street, everyday when I passed by the gates of Trinity Church, I would see about a half dozen black men giving shoe shines to white businessmen. Emotionally, I wanted to scream at those brothers and say, “ hey do you guys know what you look like doing that”? “Can’t you find some more respectful work”?
However when I looked at the situation intellectually, I knew two things. First, my feelings had more to do with my own shame about the abuses my people suffered in America’s past. Second and most importantly I realized that these brothers were making an honest living! These brothers were not gang banging, stealing or dealing drugs. At the end of the day they could stand before God with a clean conscience and an honest day’s pay. At $5 a throw, these men needed only to give 20 shines to bring home $100 tax free dollars a day.
So while emotionally we may all get bent out of shape at the sight of black men shining white folks shoes, the reality is it’s honest work that exemplifies the American way of using what abilities you have to make the best living you can.
UPDATE: Colorado worker is a registered Democrat
From Patterico's Pontifications:
[NOTE: Links to Little Green Footballs have been removed. You may click over to Patterico's for the links if you wish, but no Linky Love to LGF on ABC... ever]
Charles Johnson denounces the “right-wing racism” of the photo.
Just one problem: the worker is a registered Democrat:
According to voting records, the woman is a registered Democrat, although it’s unknown if she voted for Obama.
Reacting to the news of the woman’s party affiliation, Johnson says in comments:
This picture has been around since 2008, and it shows up exclusively on right wing mailing lists and websites. It’s ridiculous to try to deny that this is an example of right wing racism — the message of a black man shining Sarah Palin’s shoes could not possibly be more obvious.And it doesn’t matter if the woman in this case is registered Democrat or not. This is not something a supporter of Barack Obama would send to anyone.
Ah, but one need not be a right-winger to oppose Obama. Maybe the woman was a Hillary supporter. Maybe she is an ardent Democrat who feels that Obama has been insufficiently pugnacious in responding to Palin’s attacks on his health care plan. Or maybe she’s just an old racist who likes forwarding pictures of black guys shining other people’s shoes.
Whatever her motivation, Johnson ought to update his post to note that the “right-wing racism” he denounces was a picture forwarded by a Democrat. That’s not asking too much, is it?
Patterico got himself banned from LGF for pointing out the fact that the woman is a Democrat. Nutty Charles just cannot stand to have his world view challenged.