Black Public Scholars

May 6, 2010

Obama Family Portrayed as Sanford and Son in Newspaper

by Dr. Boyce Watkins, Syracuse University

Phillip Sciarello, a publisher and part owner of the Smithtown Messenger in Long Island, is defending his newspaper after a picture appeared that some believe to be a racist stereotype of the first family. The picture depicts Barack and Michelle Obama as characters from "Sanford and Son." The public backlash has led the paper to announce that it will issue a retraction in its next edition.
The picture is part of a "before and after" sequence of the last six presidents, showing how much they age once they get into the White House. The "after" photo of the Obamas show Barack Obama as Fred Sanford (Redd Foxx) and Michelle Obama as Aunt Esther (LaWanda Page). The characters are standing ready to fight, as was typical on the 1970s television show.The pictures led the Brookhaven town board to remove one of the company’s sister publications, the Brookhaven Review, as an official newspaper. This means that the paper will no longer publish town government notices.
"The reference to racial stereotypes is where the line was crossed," Brookhaven Supervisor Mark Lesko said to Newsday.
Hazel N. Dukes, president of the state NAACP conference, stated that the county should pull advertising from any publication that runs the photo.


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1 Comment »

  1. What I believe we are seeing, from groups like the tea parties, “news” commentators, and political talking heads, is the manisfestation of pent up rage at African-Americans, and their frustration at not being able to attack African-Americans without some social, political, or economic retribution. While attacking corrupt or incompetent African-Americans is perfectly justified, these people have taken their frustration at President Obama, the first African-American president, to a new level of rhetoric and hyperbole. I would hate to see these people get too comfortable with thes attacks, and attempt to generalize them, because they perceive President Obama’s lack of response as some kind of sign of weakness. A more cynical observer would describe this as an attempt to warn other African-Americans to stay out of politics, or not support certain candidates. What happened to Oprah, Van Jones, ACORN, and others, is no coincidence. I believe it is a clear campaign designed to smear any and all associated with President Obama, and serve as a warning to others.

    Comment by Damajah93 — May 9, 2010 @ 12:59 am

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