Welcome to the Jungle.


You’re looking at a photo, above, of a Coral Gables, FL Barnes & Noble window display of current books about Barack and Michelle Obama, their family, and President Obama’s historic run for the White House.

Dead center, as you’ve cerainly noticed, is a book titled Monkeys.

Get it? Somebody thinks that the Obamas are monkeys. (Maybe it was Tammy Bruce?)

According to The Defenders Online, which is produced by the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund (LDF), B&N was vastly apologetic when the arrangement was pointed out, and rushed to clarify the controversy.

“This was not a company driven decision,” Edgar Chang, the store manager, said in an interview with TheDefendersOnline. “We are not sure how the book got in the window, but we believe it was put there by a customer who didn’t like the fact that Obama won the election.”

The store is located in the Miracle Mile Mall on a busy stretch of highway.  The display windows face that highway.  While customers walking in or by can clearly see titles in the window, somehow the store’s manager and employees did not notice the monkey book for three or four days.

“We didn’t notice that it was there,” said Chang.  “Employees park in the lot in the back of the store. We just put up displays but we never go up to the windows until it’s time to change them.”

Barnes and Noble spokesperson Mary Ellen Keating said that employees were interviewed and there was a thorough investigation of the incident.

“Barnes and Noble would certainly not do something like this,” Keating said.  “We put up a display to honor President Obama.  Once we discovered this, four days later, it was immediately removed.”

Keating said that the store deals with similar types of pranks on any given day.  From time to time customers will move titles from one area of the store to another.  In a statement issued to the media Keating wrote: “I’ve seen situations where someone put a book about sex in the children’s section,” she said.  “In this particular case, we do not condone whatever message may have been intended with the placement of this title in our Presidential display.  It certainly was not part of our merchandising and we regret that we didn’t see the placement of this title immediately.”

screen2This is only the latest in a series of racist associations between the Obamas and monkeys made by apparently disgruntled citizens. Some will recall the protest against a Georgia store owner who made and sold OBAMA IN ’08 t-shirts, each sporting the sole image of children’s book character Curious George holding a banana. At a Sarah Palin rally in Johnstown, PA during the campaign, a number of media noted the presence of one man, above, grinning as he held up “a stuffed monkey doll with a Barack Obama bumper sticker wrapped across its forehead.” (Here’s footage of the man, holding a, again, Curious George doll he refers to as “Little Hussein,” “Hussein” being Barack Obama’s middle name.) There was the commemorative Obama Sock Monkey doll. Of course, the controversy over the NY Post’s “shot-dead chimp” cartoon is still fresh.

lebron-and-gorillaBeyond the Obamas, though, and in the wider culture, others will remember the LeBron James / VOGUE controversy, passionately covered on this blog and other places. There, James’s pose for photographer Annie Leibovitz’s cover photo was directly lifted from a 1917 image of a brutish, warlike gorilla, right.

At that time, however, what was often less noted in the coverage were the findings of Stanford professor Jennifer Eberhardt, working with fellow scientists from Pennsylvania State University and the University of California-Berkeley. Mere weeks before VOGUE hit the stands, they’d published a paper, based on six years of research, concluding that many Americans subconsciously associate Black people with apes.

Which suggests that, as it pertains to the Obamas, more is on the way.

Or, as I prefer to say, racism is not only historic, but futuristic.

[via WORK: Whites Overcoming Racism through Knowledge]



#1 michael lindsay on 03.25.09 at 9:55 pm

Blatant racism I am not going to go any further because you know what deal with it mine and your President is a black man!!!

#2 Tolu on 03.25.09 at 10:24 pm

Great study. I think every thinking person should, by now, be aware that language–in the context of White Supremacy–is used to justify impending action against non-Whites. One can certainly see, now, how convenient it was for Sportcasters and Sport-commentators to, relentlessly, use the word “animal,” in describing Mike Tyson, early on in his career.

#3 Leonard L. Henderson on 03.26.09 at 10:48 pm

I really don’t understand why our African-American brothers and sister get bent all out of shape when the white devil decendants of slave master continue to exhibit their disdain for the Black Race.We must come to the realization that the ideal of equal rights in United States of America is just as distant as the ideal of the man from the moon. Although the fact that a Black Man has been elected president of the United States, he has been forced to separated himself from all the ideals of him being a Black American to satisfy the mainstream media and other powers that be. We must remember that the price that has been paid by our fore fathers and mothers, the raping of our Black Women the hanging and castrasion of our Black Men. The years of jim crow laws and discrimination lets us know the the books have a long way to go before we can even consider ourselves paid in full. The Jewish people have made it an eternal commitment that the world never forget the holocoast.We as Blacks are willing partiscipants in sweeping the degredation of slavery under the carpet for the opportunity to be called African-American when we have no connection to African culture, language, nor religion. We all must can in grips of the realization that until Black Men and Black Women teacher our Black Children that Being Black is our heritage, we will remain like the children of Isreal Lost in the Wilderness.

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