Michelle Obama Slave Image: Racist Art?

A Spanish magazine's seminude homage to the first lady hits all the wrong notes.

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Once while in Paris with my bestie (the same art-history nerd I made e-smell the stench of Michelle's Portrait d'une négresse), a Frenchmen, who looked a lot like Vigo the Carpathian from Ghostbusters II, demanded I go to his "most VIP" club later that night. When I finally relented, he said the bouncers would take care of me at the door, which sounded scarier, considering his doppelgänger. I hesitated and he pressed on.

"Two black guys. Two huge blacks? You know? Niggazzz."

I was too shocked to shoot up the place. Instead we asked him why he thought calling black people "n--gers" was OK.

"It's OK, you know, because it's France."

No, I didn't know. I had no idea, but I was learning that being black abroad is a lot like being black in America, but the nuances don't translate. It's where racism is blunt and unabashed. It might sound different in French or Spanish, but it's the same and should be decried just as loudly, whether it's happening down the street or thousands of miles away.

Helena Andrews is a contributing editor at The Root and author of Bitch Is the New Black, a memoir in essays. Follow her on Twitter. 

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