Friday, January 1, 2010

UPDATED: About that picture of Obama shining Palin’s shoes

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. 


commoncents said...

Thank you for posting this!!

Common Cents

Fuzzy Slippers said...

Hmmm, well, I'll defer to your opinion on this one. I hate this picture for the reasons you've enumerated. However, I do not think that the woman should be fired over it, unless her company has an explicit policy about personal emails. The content, while to my mind distasteful at best, should not be an issue. How many pictures of President Bush being beheaded and hung were emailed from offices around this country? Or of Sarah Palin holding a rifle over a moose carcass (also stereotyping, of course)?

DB said...

I agree with you about shoe shine guys. They're making an honest living.

Things like this photo have to make it pretty tough to be a black conservative sometimes, though. If anybody knows the picture is racist, it's you (and me and everybody else).

And, unfortunately, it's the kind of thing a lot of conservatives just love and will defend by attacking anyone who merely points out it is racist.

Fuzzy Slippers, her "company" was the state of Colorado. This occurred in a government office.

Fuzzy Slippers said...

@ DB, she works for the government and knows how to use email? She should get a raise.

But yes, this is racist, that's why I hate it. But we do need to get beyond the PC hypersensitivity thing, and there is much truth in what Clifton says, people have to make a living, and I've seen old white guys shining shoes, too.

Djames said...

There is a picture on the Democrat Underground forums where Obama is apparently eating fried chicken and greens. They think the picture is great and funny.

Anonymous said...

A white guy shined my shoes at Chicago Airport a while back, so I don't think this is about race. It's about Obama's continued descent, and Palin's ascent.

Kelsey said...

I never liked that picture. I always took it more as your second interpretation, but I still never liked it.

Still, firing someone for forwarding it? Come on.

Anonymous said...

When I was a youngster, our school janitor, excuse me, custodian, left the school even though he was still rather young. We all later found out that he had gathered up some friends and opened what turned into a highly successful commercial janitorial service.

In short, he took what he knew how to do, and turned it into something pretty big. Yes, he was a black man cleaning the white man's office. But, so what? He made an honest, and very good, living at it.

Anonymous said...

Offering another perspective; the photo shop implies Palin is white-supremacist female which I think is the motivation behind the photo shopper's efforts.

Yes, treatment of black America throughout US history has been horrendous and I am not diminishing that history however we often overlook the fact that the Women's Suffrage movement came out of the Abolitionist movement. Females of any color or class have always been at the bottom of the 'bad-treatment' rung. Females could not hold property, assets or inheritance but we were treated as property, we could not vote, we could not run for office, we could not access certain jobs AND there was a time when we were forced into having abortions against our will regardless of our husband's wealth or social stature (ie if he wanted her to have an abortion she had no choice but to comply).

I am a big Susan B Anthony fan, she fought for our right to vote so that we could be able to legislate laws which would protect us from forced abortions.

Marxist feminism beginning in the 1960's deformed all that Susan B. Anthony fought for and as a result modern feminism is far more misogynistic than when the Suffrage movement fought for a Woman's right to vote.

This photo-shop is not about racism, it is about a misogynistic Feminist assaulting a Woman with 'white-supremacist' accusations.

The entire photo-shop is nasty, this is what misogynistic Feminists do.

In this last election I have never witnessed in my 48 years of living more hideous misogyny directed at ONE WOMAN coming from both Dem and Rep, female and male, gay and straight of any color, race or creed.

Chris said...

Who knows what the intentions are of the people that have used these type pictures. But for people to just assume they are racist is wrong. I think the left want the right to seem racist like they are. No one said anything about the white SEIU men that beat that black conservative man at a teaparty rally? And they called him an effing n!gger while beating him. Not one charge has been brought for that or for the New Black Panthers that intimidated voters at the poll. I guess it's ,only racism and wrong if a conservative does it.I have that video on my blog if you haven't seen it.

Clifton B said...


You're welcome, glad you liked it.

Clifton B said...

Fuzzy Slippers:

Emailing the picture at work was going to be risky business. The mix of race and politics is volitile to begin with. With that in mind, personal use of company computers is also very risky. I have a friend who handles the servers for a large company. You would not believe the things people do on their company machines. When I worked on Wall Street, I would not even check my email because I knew there was another set of eyes checking my stuff.

Clifton B said...


I think we agree on some parts. I am not sure this is the type of thing conservatives love. I think many conservatives are simply not hyper sensitive about race the way many on the left are.

Many conservatives get blamed for being racist because they refuse to coddle blacks. They believe that blacks are their equal and when they try to treat them like equals that is where they run into trouble.

I made note of the Wall Street shoe shiners because while this image clearly has a racial connotation, the very action exists in real life.

Fuzzy Slippers said...

I am SO quoting you on this, I think it's spot on: "Many conservatives get blamed for being racist because they refuse to coddle blacks. They believe that blacks are their equal and when they try to treat them like equals that is where they run into trouble."

Les Carpenter said...

Well said Clifton. I appreciate your insightful commentary.


GM Roper said...

When I was a young fellow, and admittedly that was many decades ago, I earned an entire semesters tuition shining shoes one summer in downtown San Antonio. I'm Caucasian and I shined many a black man's shoes. Would a picture of me doing so have been racist? It would depend, of course on the use of the photograph. Glad to see you post this and congrats.

Clifton B said...

Truth Teller:

DU would find such a picture funny? That I would have to see. I would imagine such a racially charged photo would have them wetting the bed.

Clifton B said...

Larry Walker, Jr.

Make no mistake the Obama vs. Palin dynamic is like pouring gasoline of the fire this image generates.

Actually, when I was on Wall Street, I mostly went to the Russian shoe shiners located at the bottom of my building.

Clifton B said...


Well it is hard to defend the woman. Regardless of the racial implications, sending private stuff on company time is almost always a no-no.

Clifton B said...


Your story is the prime example of what I was talking about. While we may think some jobs are degrading, they can lead to a rewarding life with the proper motivation.

Clifton B said...


That is a unique perspective you bring. There is the unmistakable black male/ white female dynamic going on in the photo, but I never considered looking at it from a misogynistic angle.

Clifton B said...


Oh clearly the left wants to use images like this to paint all conservatives with the same brush. BTW, I have recently learned that the woman who circulated it was a DEMOCRAT!

Kenneth Gladly's beatdown is a travesty of justice. Had he been a black liberal the world would have to have come to a complete stop until justice was served.

Clifton B said...


Quote away, my dear! ;-)

Clifton B said...

Rational Nation:

You're welcome!

Clifton B said...

GM Roper:

I too had my fair share of less than stellar jobs. I remember mopping the floors of a Haagen Daz ice cream shop at 1:00 am as one of my 3 part time jobs to pay for college.

Anonymous said...

fortunately, when we face the Lord, the 'status' of how we made a living will be of little to no importance ...rather, the sincere content of our hearts & the humility with which we lived our lives.

Angie Lee said...

Maybe it is just an expression of the fact that, unlike shoe shine boys who work to earn an honest living (and the rest of us from whom wealth must be redistributed), BHO has never "worked" to earn an honest dollar in his life. Although he was not born with a silver spoon in his mouth, someone has most definitely been spoon-feeding him with one for years.

The more the left screams RAAAAACISM, the more frustrated I get. Who really cares what color he is - black, white, or sky-blue pink - if he can do the job for which he ran and was elected? The problem lies in the fact that they KNEW he was an incompetent boob, ran him anyway because he had just enough melanin content, and now it is rapidly becoming apparent to more than just America's right (and left and everyone in between) that he either cannot do that job and refuses to learn how or misinterpreted the job he was applying for, preferring to be America's face rather than her leader. The man is obsessed with people "liking" him, and the entire world has seen the temper tantrums he throws when they do not.

At risk of stirring the turd:

In discussing BHO and all the cries of racism with my FIL recently, I asked "Why is he the 'First Black President' when he is no more black than he is white - that half, I might point out, that happens to be AMERICAN?" He is black only when convenient, plain and simple. He has no claim whatsoever to (and probably no clue about) anything which descendants of slavery have, part of their history, their identity.

Maybe because he has no identity of his own, he feels the need to latch on to that of others and be all things to all people. CHAMELEON IN CHIEF. Watch his speeches, notice the makeup of the audience, and see how he shifts back and forth from black to white in speech patterns, body language, and even personality.

At what point do Americans, black or white or any of the other magnificent colors that make up our rainbow, say "enough is enough," realizing this man and those he has surrounded himself with will NEVER allow our society to move into a "post-racial" state?

Until we wake up and until BHO - the ONE man in this country who has the power (I mean that in the context of ABILITY rather than authority) to end this - it will not only continue but continue to worsen. He deliberately allows it to go on: A divided nation is easier to conquer. Instead, he promotes hatred and bigotry, among the races but also (especially) the classes.

Focused on "making history" through asinine legislation that will only facilitate our downfall, he completely misses an opportunity to make history, being the first truly GREAT American President by bringing us together as a people, Americans first and foremost, with a vast racial, intellectual, etc., identity.

And when he fails, when the American "spirit" overcomes what he has done and even the sheeple are disgusted by his actions, will he then become "just another white guy holding the most powerful office in the world?"

We ain't seen nothin yet.

Darayvus said...

I'll just say again what I say on other blogs... if you're going to juxtapose races, if you're going to talk race - hell, even if you're going to be a racist: bring your A game. Steve Sailer brings his A game. This photoshopper - not so much.

Digital Photo Ted said...

I am the photographer who took the original capture. The photograph presented here is an unauthorized plagiarism. I resent anyone using my copyrighted photographs without my consent in the first place and even more so bringing an undeserved infamy to my name by altering them and using with ill intend. I am an Australian photographer and American politics are as far away from my mind as are our countries. Is this racism? I am not sure, but it is THEFT and DEFAMATION for sure.

You can see the original picture and story here

Anonymous said...

Looks to me like the creator of that original photoshop comes from a palin hater,a left leaning liberal.

"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."

You forgot about the tips! :-)

Anonymous said...

This looks like this is the original picture.

K said...

Still not as dangerous as calling Joe Pesci your shoe-shine boy, however.

Darayvus said...

Photo Ted, thank you for drawing this to my attention - "our" attention, if I may speak for this forum at large. You're right of course; look closely at "Obama's" head and you will see a brown ponytail, look at "his" hands and you will see brown strands of hair. This was NOT an expert p-shop job. The whole thing reeks of incompetence.

Leaving "racism" aside, I'm in full agreement that the p-shopper is a jerk, a thief, and a nitwit. That's enough for me

Osumashi Kinyobe said...

Wow, Digital Photo Ted, your original photo was far more compelling.
It takes an idiot to slime others because they can't think of anything relevant or intelligent to say. That woman is a fool.

QueenTiye said...

Are there no rightwing democrats? Who are the "blue dogs"?

And - more importantly, are there no racist democrats?

I agreed with your post right up to your update, which was largely useless, except as to perpetuate the idea that rightwing and republican are synonyms, or the reverse, that democrat and leftwing are synonyms -premises I find to be false.


Rose said...

The photographer who took the original picture has requested that the photoshopped image be removed, and I have done so. I respect his rights as an artist.

BUT - at this point that image (not his original photo, but the altered image), and the assertions people have made surrounding it, have become a legitimate story. For example, the links included here traced the story to the first appearance of the altered image.

At some point, censoring the altered image is a bad thing. It is part of a national dialogue, good bad or indifferent. On racism. On qualifications, and on fights between bloggers, and a blogger losing his mind, if nothing else.

Anonymous said...

There's a movement to radically change California government, by getting rid of career politicians and chopping their salaries in half. A group known as Citizens for California Reform wants to make the California legislature a part time time job, just like it was until 1966.

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