So, yesterday, nearly all of mainstream media and (self-proclaimed) omniscient Hollywood celebs were aghast over Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ use of a legal—not a racial—term, Anglo-American. He was praising the long-standing heritage of sheriffs, a form of law enforcement that began in England. It’s also called Common Law. I did a double-take, too, at first. But as a biracial individual who strives for racial harmony, I couldn’t assume a racial motive. Isn’t that the very prejudice that so-called social justice warriors claim to fight against? I could not prejudge the situation; I wanted to understand it, instead. I have access to the same world of information as billion-dollar news organizations. It took me a whole 10 seconds to find out what Anglo-American could possibly mean in the context of Sessions’ remarks.
Regardless of a simple factual truth, our reckless news media dumped their #fakenews toxicity into the public, accusing AG Sessions of racism. I don’t recall them stirring up those winds of white supremacy when former President Obama used the exact same terminology in several speeches referring to “the foundation of Anglo-American law”. Anyone feeling a little double-standardish?
Obama should have been the first one to come to Sessions’ defense.
But he couldn’t. He was too busy being showered with praise for his newly revealed presidential portrait, painted by a phenomenally talented black artist—Kehinde Wiley. Obama described why he chose Wiley: “What I was always struck by whenever I saw his portraits was the degree to which they challenged our conventional views of power and privilege. And the way that he would take extraordinary care and precision and vision in recognizing the beauty and the grace of the dignity of people who are often invisible in our lives.”
Disturbingly, however, Wiley uses that talent, in part, to “reversing narratives” of “racial power” in his works in grotesque ways. For instance, a famous painting depicting a Israeli woman (Judith) cutting off the head of an Assyrian commander (Holofernes), as told in the apocryphal Book of Judith, becomes a black woman holding the severed head of a white woman she has just decapitated. That’s not reinterpretation. That’s just racism. Real racism. In a PBS documentary uncritically featuring his work, Wiley describes his intention for his version of Judith and Holofernes: “I want to go to the absolute heart of glamour. But also allow fantasy and play to come into the picture.”
That’s glamour? Are you doing a double-take now?
When viewing his newly prepared exhibit, called Economy of Grace, and specifically looking at the 2012 Judith and Holofernes painting, Wiley remarks: “God! That’s amaz shot! That’s hot. That’s hot. That’s mileage.”
Wiley told New York magazine that “it’s sort of a play on the whole ‘Kill Whitey’ thing.”
Yeah. Racism and violence against women is so hot.
So, mainstream media demonizes Sessions for using a term that has no racial connotation while simultaneously celebrating a homosexual artist who glamourizes horrific racial violence depicting black women decapitating white women.
Let that sink in.
I mean, we still have organizations that retain racially-charged names like the United Negro College Fund and the National Council of Negro Women. And these italicized descriptors actually refer to “race” (which, of course, has served as a destructive human construct). Heaven forbid a Caucasian person would use those terms. It’s 2018. I don’t identify as a negro or a colored person. I’m just American. (By the way, we’re all people of color, for the love. Is anyone actually translucent?) But it’s just fine for black civil rights groups to hold onto anachronistic and demeaning names.
The NAACP, in typical clueless fashion, issued a press release denouncing Sessions for what they charge as a “racially-tinged statement.” Ummm, The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People? You still call yourselves ‘colored people’, and you’re worrying about a legal term that means England-American?
Irony knows no color.
Back to those new portraits of our former President and First Lady. As an artist, I enjoy unconventional approaches. ‘Barack Obama Lost In a Hedge,’ though, seems more unflattering than unconventional. I support the idea of a unique rendering of the first biracial president in American history and a beautiful First Lady (despite the fact that her portrait doesn’t really resemble her). Although I passionately reject the worldview and politics of the Obamas, I embrace the right of Presidents to convey who they think they are. (Keep in mind that the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery isn’t about historical accuracy. Just see its misplaced tribute to eugenicist Margaret Sanger in the Struggle for Justice exhibit.) I will say, I can never look at Obama’s painting without seeing Homer Simpson fading into the wall of flowers. Thank you, Twitter!
Obama is entitled to his own artistic narrative as divergent as it may be from reality. Mainstream media isn’t entitled to the same form of fantasy. They have a duty called journalism. And if they are too lazy or too rabidly liberal to see the recklessness of the false and dangerous narratives they paint every day, they truly are deserving of being branded as #fakenews.
— Shoshana Weissmann, Sloth Committee Chair (@senatorshoshana) February 12, 2018
Ryan Bomberger is the Chief Creative Officer and co-founder of The Radiance Foundation. He is happily married to his best friend, Bethany, who also happens to be the Executive Director of Radiance. They are adoptive parents with four awesome munchkins. Ryan is a creative agitator and international public speaker who just loves illuminating that every human life has purpose.
The views expressed in opinion articles are solely those of the author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by Black Community News.