Remember Amber Lee Ettinger? No? Okay how about "Obama girl"? The bikini-clad brunette who starred in the made-for-Youtube video "I Got a Crush on Obama"?
Centered on Obama Girl's warm feelings down there for the then-presidential candidate, Ettinger lip syncs lyrics like, "You're into border security, let's break this border between you and me," before busting into the hook, "'Cause I gotta crush on Obama." It was cute in that historical narrative of black men being overtly sexualized then fetishized sort of way.
Anyways, Ettinger got mildly Internet famous and, according to her website, Newsweek magazine named "Crush on Obama" one of the top memes of the last decade.
In 2007, when the video went viral the New York Times wrote, "The video plays on the sex appeal of the candidate, a terrain considered off limits by political campaigns in their own commercials... While overtly salacious, the video is unlikely to raise any objections from the Obama campaign."
When he was asked about the video on the campaign trail, the AP reported that Obama was none too pleased, "I guess it’s too much to ask, but you do wish people would think about what impact their actions have on kids and families." Mrs. Obama echoed the same sentiments when she told the Chicago Sun Times that the couple's then-six-year-old daughter, Sasha, asked "Daddy, you have Mommy, right?”
The Obamas were clearly not amused and can you really blame them? Despite the oversimplication through sexualization of politics at the highest level of government there is something even more insidious happening when the target of the spoof is a black man or woman, who have so often been at the bottom of the rung when it comes to whose bodies are off limits. The same thing happened recently to Michelle when a Spanish magazine decided to reimagine the First Lady of the United States as a breast-baring former slave on its cover. Seriously.
The same thing is happening again as Republicans try to take back the wildly popular "Let's make the first black president a sexy-ass sex symbol" meme with the website "Are You Ready to Break Up With Obama?"
Featuring another Kim Kardashian-type in the RNC-backed "Break Up With Obama" a beautiful non-black woman sits across a romantically lit dinner table to have "the talk" with her president, a man she clearly knows intimately.
Don't think the race of the woman in question matters? Take a look at the last few seconds of this Republican attack ad against former congressman Harold Ford, Jr. (D-Tenn.). Go ahead I'll wait. When the suggestively naked blonde at the end winks and says, "Harold, call me," the collective shotguns and white hoodies of Old Mississippi miscegenation fears come out the closet. Interracial love is still considered not only taboo but dangerous in certain segments of this country. The Klu Klux Klan built its membership on the idea that ravenous black men wanted nothing more than to rape virginal white women. Even as the product of an interracial marriage himself, Barack Obama is not at all exempt from the fear of black male sexuality, black male prowess.
"Listen this just isn't working," Obama's "date" begins. "It's been four years, you've changed. You're spending is out of control, you're constantly on the golf course and you're always out with Hollywood celebrities. You think I didn't see you with Sarah Jessica Parker and George Clooney?"
In an inadvertent nod to #Eastwooding, the woman is speaking to someone off screen sitting across from her who we can only assume is Obama before a cardboard cut-out of the president is actually revealed. To be honest, I was really happy about that part. If they'd used an Obama-look-alike I'm almost certain I would've been offended in some way and I can't necessarily put my finger on how or why. I just know it.
I want to think better of the Republican National Committee, for real I do. I want to think that we can disagree without speaking in coded imagery that calls to mind racial tension, sexual innuendo and fear mongering. I can't even remember what policies are being derided here, only that a beautiful brunette is ending things with the president.
Framing not voting for your current black president as clipping a romantic affair just does not sit right with me. It might sound funny or even cute but so does "chickenpox" and that can kill you if you're not careful.