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New Yorker/Obama Satire Manages to Provoke Unlikely Community of Women and Men


Austin, TX – July 16, 2008 – “The New Yorker” managed to aggravate supporters of presidential candidate Barack Obama, Muslims and African-Americans with its recent satire depicting Michelle Obama as an afro-wearing, gun-toting, 70s militant and Obama, himself, as an Osama bin Laden-loving Muslin. The magazine has also provoked a community of curly-haired women and men who are disappointed that an afro would be associated with symbols of violence.

In fact, since the controversy ignited,, an online community that informs, empowers and unites a community of people brought together by a common interest – curly hair, has been barraged by messages from community members.

“Does afro=angry militant?” asks CurlTalker MichelleBFT. “I wear an afro sometimes.”

The founders of have editorialized on the matter, stating: “While the cartoon is meant to make fun of the scare tactics and misinformation being lobbed at Obama, it reinforces negative stereotypes about both Muslims and natural hair. We’re all for exposing the stupidity of fear mongering, but playing on people’s stereotypes and insecurities is not a positive trend for a democracy. NaturallyCurly appreciates cartoonist Barry Bitt’s attempt at satire, but we fear the image will be used as fodder for close-minded individuals who don’t understand the cartoon’s true purpose.”

Not all visitors were concerned about a misunderstanding of the satire. Some women, including those with natural hair, liked the cartoon and what it stands for.

“My initial reaction was ‘that’s wrong and inappropriate,’” says CurlTalker Webjockey. “Then I looked at his other work. He just likes to show the absurdities of opinions. I can dig that.”

“I like it very much but I wish it wasn’t on the cover,” says CurlTalker Frau. “There are many people who won’t read the article or understand it as satire as they’re walking quickly by newsstands. I can imagine that picture being a catalyst for imprinting negative views about the Obamas.”

In response to “The New Yorker” controversy, NaturallyCurly rushed to press a piece it has been working on for several weeks, examining the historical role of super kinky hair in American politics. The article, “Michelle Obama and the Politics of Hair,” and accompanying photos explore whether America is ready for a high-profile politician or political wife to wear super kinky hair.

To view the article, photos, editorial and more community member comments, please visit

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 new yorker
 barack obama

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