New York’s Long Island weekly newspaper, Smithtown Messenger, published a photo spread entitled “Before and After” of the past five presidential couples and the Obamas at the beginning and end of their respective presidential terms. The piece would’ve been clever had not the paper chosen to depict the Obamas “after” as Esther (LaWanda Pages) and Fred Sanford (Redd Foxx) from the early 1970s sitcom Sanford and Son.
After accusations of racism, publisher Phillip Sciarello defended the piece as satire but said the newspaper would run a retraction in its next edition.
The NAACP’s Long Island regional director Tracey Edwards described the piece as “despicable and disrespectful. If this was intended as satire, it misses the mark.”
Hazel N. Dukes, president of the state NAACP conference said in a statement on Wednesday, “it is simply shocking and outrageous that such a blatantly racist ad would run in any paper, much less an official paper of Suffolk County,” Dukes said. “New Yorkers of all races and ethnicity are disgusted by it and reject it.”
If satire is meant to be witty, even ironic, or at least exaggerate a bit of truth, Blindie thinks that the Smithtown Messenger definitely missed the mark -Esther is not Fred Sanford’s wife but his bickering sister-in-law and the only similarities between them and the Obamas is their race. The satire relies upon the stereotype that black people are of a depressed economic class, bicker frequently, and are generally comedic because of that.