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Op-Ed: Artwork Calling Barack Obama's Children 'Nappy Headed Hos' is Offensive

Presidential Hopeful Barack Obama
Art is in the eye of the beholder some say, and while that is true, some art is so offensive that one wonders who would support such an artist. "Art" portraying Barack Obama's children as "nappy headed hos", in my opinion, is that offensive.
Yazmany Arboleda recently made headlines after setting up in a storefront with two exhibits called "The Assassination of Hillary Clinton" and The Assassination of Barack Obama". New York Police and the Secret Service ascended on the scene and took Arboleda to the police station for questioning before releasing him.
According to his press releases about his "art", he claims his displays are to represent the media assassinations of the candidates.
Some of his art is so controversial that he was only showing it by appointment, although he has made it available online as well to be viewed.
Arboleda explains his motivation for his so-called art by saying, "My mission as an artist is to raise dialogue and conversation about substantive things. There's so much media time spent on superficial things -- like celebrities. My point is to bring substance back."
What does this artist call substance?
In one image he has up, it is a picture of Barack Obama sitting with his two young children and the caption above the photo says, "NAPPY HEADED HOS".
Screenshot captured from the Naomi Gates Gallery where Yazmany Arboleda was showing  The Assassinati...
Screenshot captured from the Naomi Gates Gallery where Yazmany Arboleda was showing "The Assassination of Barack Obama" exhibit.
"Screenshot of theassassinationofbarackobama.com"
image:40931:3::0
This is art?
Other examples which can be viewed online, of Arboleda's art (by clicking next or previous in the right upper corner), include photos of a large penis, with a sign in the middle of them saying, "Once you go Barack", and one exhibit which has nooses hanging from the rafters.
The artist claims that his so-called art has to do with the media assassinating the characters of the candidates, but this type of "art" doesn't seem to have anything to do with the media.
His exact words in an interview after his New York show was shut down, Arboleda said, "It’s art. It’s not supposed to be harmful. It’s about character assassination — about how Obama and Hillary have been portrayed by the media.It’s about the media.”
The media has never referred to Obama's children as nappy headed hos. The media has never, to my knowledge discussed Barack Obama's penis.
The media seems to simply be a scapegoat so that Arboleda can try to justify his highly offensive and outrageous work that he calls art.
I have been firm about Michelle Obama being fair game in this campaign season because she often makes stump speeches for her husband's campaign.
I also believe, firmly, Barack Obama's associations, judgment and policy stances are fair game as well.
There is a line that supporters, opponents, media and yes, artists, should not cross and the type of offensive photos, available to be viewed publicly online, calling Obama's children those kinds of names, should offend everybody, no matter your party affiliation, no matter your stance on free speech and no matter your opinion about Barack Obama as a candidate for presidency.
Legally Arboleda can create any type of art he wants but it bears noting that he is 27 years old and has had his art shown at respected galleries in New York, London and Washington, D.C.
He graduated high school with two full scholarships, one from Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and another from the national Coca-Cola Scholars and he now makes his living selling his "art".
Since these latest shows closed down after receiving International coverage, he is now looking for others that will house his work.
While the first amendment allows Arboleda to express himself in any way he wants to, rightly so, it also allows citizenry to refuse to attend any gallery that will host this type of offensive material.
Galleries considering displaying this particular exhibit should be aware of the backlash they could receive for doing so.
Rights work both ways.

27 comments :

#21Jun 14, 2008 Cynthia Trowbridge
@Joie Maccarone
Cynthia, thanks. Pretty "hard" to miss, eh? lol
I don't find this art show as being offencive at all. Art holds a mirror to society. You either like what you see or you don't.
I do find it offensive as I don't see it as necessary to take a public figure and do those kind of paintings and then call them "art work"
The artist is showing his racism and his total disregard for how Obama and his family would feel about this. It also comes as a total disrespect for other people.
#22Jun 14, 2008 Joie Maccarone
@Cynthia Trowbridge
I do find it offensive as I don't see it as necessary to take a public figure and do those kind of paintings and then call them "art work"
The artist is showing his racism and his total disregard for how Obama and his family would feel about this. It also comes as a total disrespect for other people.
Ok, so we view it differently. But how does this come to a "total disrespect for other people?" And who are these people who you are referring to? I presume you are referring to the blacks. No?
#23Jun 14, 2008 Cynthia Trowbridge
@Joie Maccarone
Ok, so we view it differently. But how does this come to a "total disrespect for other people?" And who are these people who you are referring to? I presume you are referring to the blacks. No?
Actually I was in a hurry when I wrote that and I should have put a total disrespect for Obama and his family.
#24Jun 14, 2008 Joie Maccarone
@Cynthia Trowbridge
Actually I was in a hurry when I wrote that and I should have put a total disrespect for Obama and his family.
Cynthia, we have different views on his art work. Why not just leave it at that?
#25Jun 14, 2008 Cynthia Trowbridge
@Joie Maccarone
Cynthia, we have different views on his art work. Why not just leave it at that?
That is fine with me 66. I was just answering your question to me. :-)
#26Jun 14, 2008 Hargrove Jones
This artist is using racist ideology to overwhelm a person’s true images. The idea is to repel people by the ugliness of it all, in order to isolate the victim.
Without an African American as a candidate for president, these issues would not surface. This is a great opportunity to learn.
This artist shows us several things about racism, the most important of which is that racism is not a reaction to the inferiority of the victim, it is a resolve to force the victim into an inferior status. Have you noticed how these people cannot leave Barack's image alone? For example:
You couldn't find an image of parental care and protection better than Barack's show of affection for his children in the photograph. But instead of the admiration it deserves, the artist is offended at the truth that challenges his belief system, to the extent that he is moved to denigrate small children in order to contradict their valued image in the photograph. Which reflects another characteristic of racism, boundaries are not respected, women and children are fair game. The stronger feels privileged to violate the weaker in the devalued group.
As for the penis image associated with Barack. While Barack is sensitive, intellectual, funny, things most people admire, but the racist reacts to the admirable qualities, in the object of racism, as an affront, because it contradicts their belief system. So, the artist tries to overwhelm the reality of who Barack Obama is, with the ideology of racism. Through his art he’s “saying,” Don’t believe what you see. He is not this nice, intelligent being that you see, he is really a being dominated by sexual impulses. As a matter of fact, he’s just one big penis. He's making a demand, like Chris Rock, in a comedic monologue in which he challenged, “who are you going to believe, me or your lying eyes?”
#27Jun 14, 2008 Susan Duclos
@Joie Maccarone
Susan; You ask, "She me one organization that has used Obama's penis as a topic please." As far as I know, there has been no organization which used Obama's penis as a topic. However, that seems to be the message you are getting from the words, "Once you go Barrack..." The artist never once mentioned the word "penis." Yet, it is your interpretation of his work. Not mine.
It is my interpretation of the photos on the walls before AND after the sign... you know, the big, black penis's? Or do you truly think they have nothing to do with that room's exhibit...considering the sign AND the penis's ARE that room's exhibit.

27 comments :

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