Todavía Esclavos: The Real Message Behind Fuera de Serie’s Michelle Obama Cover

August 27, 2012  |  

Source: Bossip

Yes, that’s who you think it is. The wife of Barack Obama, the right-hand woman of the Commander-in-Chief of our nation, the First Lady of the United States; naked, nude, depicted as a slave on the cover of the August issue of the Spanish magazine, Fuera de Serie. Seated wrapped in an American flag, with one breast exposed, and a wrap around her head in the likeness of the famous Afro-Guadeloupean female slave painted by French artist Marie-Guilhelmine Benoist in 1800, the weekly lifestyle supplement to the Spanish newspaper Expansión wants to convey como “Michelle Se Come A Obama (Michelle eats Obama).”

It’s hard to say which came first, the clever headline that accompanies the feature on the Flotus, “Michelle Tataranieta De Esclava, Dueña De América” (Michelle great-great granddaughter of a slave, owner of America) or the brilliant idea to use artist Karine Percheron-Daniels’ nude image of her. But one thing that is consistently clear throughout the entire piece, whether by imagery or word choice, is the idea that Michelle Obama is and always will be a slave in far too many people’s eyes, no matter how far we’re removed from physical enslavement, and how high of a position she’s climbed to in society.

Before even dissecting the slave imagery depicted throughout this article, on the surface is a simple form of disrespect that is undeniable —the First Lady of the United States in the nude. Michelle Obama is far from being the only person Percheron-Daniels has recreated in this way, in fact she’s developed an entire series of “famous nudes” that includes portraits of Princess Diana, Eva Peron, Albert Einstein, and even Barack Obama in the buff. Though I can’t be completely certain, I’m almost sure none of those images has been plastered on the cover of a magazine in such a distasteful way, however. Not to mention, I would be shocked to find someone had the audacity to paint any of our other previous first ladies (or presidents for that matter) in such a way. And what’s most interesting is that despite being nude, all of the famous figures are shown naked with either a blank canvas behind them or elements that were relative to the time and place in which they existed. The same can’t be said of Michelle Obama, who it’s clear many would like to still think of as a slave, but who is a free woman, and a descendant of a free woman, who is also a descendant of a free woman. So why the slave representation?

According to Clutch, Percheron-Daniels wanted to showcase an “alternative unexpected reality” that allows us to “view famous individuals in a different way.” Michelle Obama as a slave isn’t all that unexpected, unfortunately, and it’s interesting how none of her other nude subjects are depicted in such a so-called alternative way. Digging herself into an even bigger hole, the artist says transforming Michelle Obama into Benoist’s slave figure was done “for obvious reasons.” So obvious, that she neglected to explain them, so allow me to fill in the blanks. The obvious reason is Michelle Obama is an obvious and proven descendant of slaves and the powers that be would never want her or any other negro/negriss to forget that no matter how far they climb up the socio-economic or political ladder, they (we) are and will always be nothing more than someone else’s laborers. We will always answer and be owned by someone else. And no matter how many rights we legally obtain, we will never be free. By choosing to use such a jarring image to tell the story of how America’s first lady “seduced the people of the United States” and “stole the heart of Barack Obama,” as Fuera de Serie describes her, it’s clear the magazine agrees with that mentality and wants to spread the message loud and clear: todavía estamos esclavos. We are still slaves. It’s a good thing there are more Barack and Michelle’s out here who are determined to prove that slave mentality false.

What do you think about this magazine cover and the image of Michelle Obama?

Brande Victorian is the news and operations editor for Follow her on twitter @Be_Vic.

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  • hc

    I imagine the magazine is just glad to have the attention of an American audience finally. For all the people who are disgusted, there are at least a few now who will continue to take notice.

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  • bregg

    Art should never surrender to political correctness.
    Even jesus should not be immune from artistic demonstrations.

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  • mollyteena

    Its a shame and a disgrace! This presidency has been through so much racism! But hey! Its really alright because no matter how they thought or felt,They were still in there! You cant take that away from them!!

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  • 123ILoveSpain

    Hmmm…. I didn’t have an “aaaaackkk” reaction to this magazine cover, and I am a Caucasian woman who has voted and will vote again for Obama (but I was born and raised overseas, and Spain is one of the countries I’ve lived in for many years) …. “Michelle se come a Obama” is an expression that means she is “way out in front of him” (loose translation here!), and the smaller print to the right of the picture states more succintly that Michelle Obama is gaining in popularity over her husband and is a key figure in his winning the election. My first reaction was “Well, doesn’t she look confident and secure in who she is!!” Like all those women in days gone by looked when they were lying around (with far fewer bits of clothing, I might add) posing for artists…. Not going to address the issue of the bare breast; most Americans have never been to a real museum in their lives (and aren’t interested either!). I think 3 things are going on here: 1)the importance of Michelle Obama in the election (all wives of candidates are important); 2 )the strength of this particular African-American woman, who, sitting quite regally, draped in the flag and baring one breast, has had to put up with soooo much ugliness because of the color of her skin; and 3) how far the States has come (and NOT come) in its comparatively short history.

  • Let me make a personal judgement here…Some of Y’all sound oh so victimized and powerless.

    What is the cultural context of the article, what is it about, what is discussed in it? That is what I want to know!

    A large part of the world is not as squemish about a bare breast as we Judeo-Christian/Calvinist/Mormon/ Baptist/Catholic/Muslim Americans are.

    I know who I am, I know who my people are and where I come from. NOTHING changes the power of surviving that history. To interpret and seek to interpret every image we do not like as a symbol of our degradation is intellectually lazy, and self-victimization and hatred of the worst kind.

    My ancestors were NEVER slaves, they were illegal prisoners of war. And as such they rebelled every day of that existence, escaped, sabotaged and undermined the illegal, immoral system of forced labor every chance they got.

    We rise when we get our souls and minds out of the gutter of self-degradation “they” want us to be obsessed with. Time for us to LEARN we define our own history, we need to interpret our own conditions and strategize from a new way of thinking how to fight our way out of this mess.

    Why is that many Americans seem to always be deficient in the areas of History, geography and irony?

  • MJ

    Here is their email address: Email them and voice your protest:

  • VivsMom

    Totally distasteful. I am going to guess that the First Lady knows about this, so she is owed a tremedous apology! Who in the hell does this so called “artist” think she is? She needs to check herself.

  • MJ

    Their site address is fueradeserie.expansion – google it. Email them and protest!

  • MJ

    Firstly, Michelle Obama and other Blacks in America are not born of slaves nor were they descendants of slaves. Their oppressors (White people) kidnapped them from their lands, chained them, starved them, tortured them, raped them, threw them into the ocean to drown, murdered them and the ones who survived were forcefully taken to a “new world” to build it for free. These African ancestors didn’t do anything wrong. They were the victims not slaves and Whites were the evil oppressors who committed these evil, heinous atrocities! Secondly, why do white people continuously make fun of slavery? These are the atrocities they committed against an entire continent and race! What’s funny about your evil white people?What’s funny about making fun of the descendants of those you degraded? Can someone please make a picture of Queen Sophia of Spain and depict her as the great-great granddaughter of evil child rapists, thieves and murderers? Why don’t Blacks ever retaliate with such images? Come on, let’s give it back to them. Enough with these dignified silences that hasn’t changed anything. Yes, whites are uncivilized – just look at how they behave.War mongering, hate mongering, killings, raping kids – take a good look at their behavior. They always seem to be seeking out Blacks to insult us and as much as we ignored them, nothing changes. Time to confront and start degrading them publicly. They committed evil atrocities against us and then continue to laugh about it? Come on African countries, depict their Queens and Kings as child molesters, thieves, rapists, murderers. That’s what they were! Why are we taking these insults? They sought out Africa and invaded the continent. We didn’t seek them out? They came looking for us and our people fought back!

    • tipp

      Slavery is a booming business in AFRICA TODAY!
      What do you have to say about the pygmies and other tribes in eastern congo who remain slaves today.

    • Tad

      Actually the first organized slaves were Slovak, hence the name. Also maybe you didn’t know but they weren’t tossed into the ocean for shits and giggles. Ethiopia actually was well known for enslaving “white people.” Although I could understand how your angry considering your racist yourself against Caucasians. Also the Arabs were the first to buy slaves which African kings sold. I think you should look at th history of slavery and think on how every society used slavery in at least on way or another, be it religious,ethnic or racist.

  • Ann

    I am really dissapointed how First Lady Michelle Obama get disrespected like that. How would Karine Percheron-Daniels feel if that was done to her? She needs to really think before she do.

  • LJ

    “Digging herself into an even bigger whole”. I believe you meant to use the word “hole” And this doesn’t surprise me. This President has been disrespected so much here in this country, it almost gives license to incite a free for all for other countries to join in. I have never seen such disrespect for an office. This cover is truly offensive as a Black woman, as a mother, just on so many levels.

  • grr

    The devil is in spain

  • grr

    EOnce again more disgusting behavior presenting the vile natural inborn character of what has been proven true throughout history. This comes from a very insecure people, insecure in all these fallacies thrown in our face everyday. How can one claim so much related to advancement of the human race have such a lack in evolvement. I am veiwing this like a childish jealousy.

  • CarlaKah

    Let’s just keep progressing and let the whatever’s think whatever

  • CarlaKah

    It’s messed up and sad. This is why we should keep progressing

  • maggie

    Stuff like this is why I don’t agree w/ interracial dating. Sex is not the barometer of race relations! Just b/c you can sleep with the descendants of your oppressors w/o getting killed does not serve as a replacement for the respect of our people.

    • aceboo

      That statement sounds really ignorant because at the end of the day everyone is mixed with somthing.There is no one that is totally from one particular race.

  • A.C.H.

    I think a lot of this is simple ignorance, beginning with the French artist who initially altered the portrait to include Michelle Obama’s face and the Spanish magazine deciding to use it, possibly for shock value and attention. As someone who has traveled and is living abroad in Korea and interacting with the locals, not all cultures have a politcally correct stance on things or talk openly about race like we do in America. Furthermore, things consider “offensive” are relative to each culture, thus the comments about this cover from black Americans don’t surprise me because we operate from a different historical & cultural pysche. When it comes to the racial history of America, there are things non-Americans won’t understand internally. I could react defensively to a lot of the things the Koreans around me say or do that may come off as racially insensitive, but then I stop and realize that they aren’t American and are just acting out of simple ignorance, not spite. In fact, I try to keep an open-mind and view things from the cultural psyche the person is operating in, even if the message comes across as controversial or offensive to the person outside said cultural circle. I’m a black woman and I don’t feel this was done to intentionally spite Michelle Obama. I used to live in Spain and based on what I observed in relation to putting a woman’s bare breasts on display on magazine covers, an overall comfort with nudity, very open PDA, and access to topless beaches, this choice of an image may be playing into what flies in their culture. Mrs. Obama is obviously popular in their country, so maybe filtered through the mind of a Spaniard, they may think this image is flattering. I wouldn’t expect them to have the same filter for racial senstivitiy, American racial politics, or hesitancy to show a woman’s breasts on a non-adult centered popular magazine that operates in the psyches of many Americans. I wouldn’t expect a Spaniard to think like a black American or understand the racial politics of our society. Overall, I’m just trying to look at this from Spaniard’s viewpoint.

    • MJ

      We may operate from different psyche as a whole but there is such thing known as respect and courtesy which the Spaniards don’t seem to have. When you’re dealing internationally (I say this as a British woman who is very well travelled), you educate yourself about the cultures of those countries you’re dealing with. As a business owner, and a woman, I know not to try and shake men’s hands when I’m in a muslim country (common courtesy). This magazine and the artist knew what they were doing. They were hoping for attention and they’re getting attention now. They knew this would be offensive and they understand the racial politics of the USA so let’s not excuse them as being naive. Spain is notorious for its racism towards Blacks and Browns. They know what racism is and this image is utterly disgusting and not surprising!


  • Kala

    Wow I”m just stunned. Michelle is smart, strong, and a wonderful mom, wife and first lady. Folks should boycott travel or products from Spain till they apologize!

  • colliz

    It’s 2012 for pete’s sake and blacks still can’t catch a break from all this ignorant backward thinking. There should be a special place in hell for racist bigots like this so called artist. And to think that a woman is behind this is beyond appalling to me. So much hate and envy for no reason. Spaniards need to get over the fact that slavery has long been over never to return and all their once colonies are now free and govern themselves and their track record in history is pathetic cause they always lose wars. Seems to me like this Spaniard is still stuck in the colonization era. Maybe a whole lot of negative reviews might bring her back to the 21st century. The levels of racism coming out of that country is atrocious. They must all be a bunch of sad angry people to keep up with this level of idiocy.

  • This is utterly disrespectful to the FLOTUS. There should be an apology issued

  • Nunna!!

    And another thing…Black people – you must go and vote…YOu OWE THAT!!!! Dont’t talk about it, Be about it….yeah, I am pissed off!! Just like the Olympics…WE MUST RUN OUR RACE!! We can show them better than we can tell them!!

  • Nunna!!

    Someone just needs a good AZZ woopin!! The disrepect and blatant racism is yet another obvious strike because people are so jealous and such haters of the Black Race but know can’t hold us down, you won’t hold us down and you can hate all your natural life…but WE, us colored, us black folk gon do what we do!!! Now go and print that…

  • Absolutely tasteless.

  • that is just terrible and disrespectful, they need to appolgoize for that. Total disgrace for Spain.

    • for those addressing illegal immigration, Spain is in Europe, they dont usually migrate to US borders, however, they are racist against Africans & Moroccons arriving on their shores.

      • Mercy

        thank you Beronica for clarifying that….this has nothing to do with immigrants in the USA

  • I think it’s absolutely appalling and disturbing! But the world is full of idiots doing their thang and we can’t ever get around that!

  • Disgusted in Bmore

    Obama opens our country up to legal immigrants, and this is how they repay him! It’s disrespectful and a slap in the face!!!!

    • disgusted in Bmore

      edit: Illegal immigrants!

  • Considering the fact that a lot of the Latinos are themselves descended from African Slaves; Dominicans, Puerto Ricans and Brazilians included, I am not sure how I feel about this picture. One thing I do know; there has never been another First Family in history to garner so much disrespect. And people wonder why 94 Percent of blck people are voting for Obama. Its not just because he is black. That’s for damn sure!

    • Mercy

      The spainards CONQUERED all those latino countries..and have always been a bit ” superior” acting..I am not surprised by this cover at all…but this has NOTHING to do with Latinos…Mexicans, cubans, Central Americans, is SPAIN. it is a SPANISH magazine.

    • rema

      Thanks for admitting what everyone knew already.
      You voted for obama because you are a black racist.

  • status quo

    That’s the beauty of the Flotus and Potus, they don’t care what people think about them because they are both eloquent, successful and educated. Republicans talk smack and Spanish print tasteless magazines and they just don’t give a flying fish.

  • karen

    disgusting,the person who did this should be ashamed of themselves. i cant believe this

  • L-Boogie

    Honestly, I do not know how to feel about this cover. However, the correct way to say it is “todavía estamos esclavos.”

    • Mario

      No, that is not the correct way to say it. That is the gringo way, and it is wrong.

  • Disgusting

  • OMG.OMG.

  • A.J.

    Wow, I didn’t even know about this. If any of the other First Ladies were portrayed like this, there would be an uproar. That whole excuse about “viewing individuals in a different way” is bogus. There’s nothing wrong with looking at people differently, but why in such a dated, racist manner? What kind of image is this sending to Black women? Why not portray the First Lady as an updated version of Columbia, the female personification of the United States? Or just cover up her breasts? (This wouldn’t make it right, though). Equally disturbing is the fact that this is on the foreign market, although when I read that it was from Spain, I wasn’t that surprised. No matter what we do, some people are always going to see us as worthy of debasement. But we are so much more than this, and we need to start speaking out.