Gregory Scott Parks, and Danielle Heard recently posted their fascinating paper, titled “‘Assassinate the Nigger Ape': Obama, Implicit Imagery, and the Dire Consequences of Racist Jokes,” on SSRN. Here is the abstract.
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In 1994, Congress passed legislation stating that Presidents elected to office after January 1, 1997, would no longer receive lifetime Secret Service protection. Such legislation was unremarkable until the first Black President – Barack Obama – was elected. From the outset of his campaign until today, and likely beyond, President Obama has received unprecedented death threats. These threats, we argue, are at least in part tied to critics and commentators’ use of symbols, pictures, and words to characterize the Obama as a primate, in various forms – including cartoonist Sean Delonas’ controversial New York Post cartoon. Against this backdrop and looking to history, cultural critique, federal case law, as well as cognitive and social psychology, we explore how the use of seemingly harmless imagery may still be racially-laden and evoke violence against its object.
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You can download the paper for free here. For a sample of related Situationist posts, see “Why Race May Influence Us Even When We “Know” It Doesn’t,” “Reporting Social Facts vs. Pining for Jim Crow: No Comparison Between Reid and Lott,” “The Situation of the Obama Presidency and Race Perceptions,” “Perceptions of Racial Divide,” “Racial Attitudes in the Presidential Race,” “Black History is Now,” “The Racial Situation of Voting,” “The Interior Situation of Undecided Voters,” “On Being a Mindful Voter,” “Implicit Associations in the 2008 Presidential Election,” “Jennifer Eberhardt’s “Policing Racial Bias” – Video,” “A Situationist Considers the Implications of Simpson Sentencing,” and “What does an Obama victory mean?”