Like most of America, I was glued to the TV watching election results last Tuesday. I hooted, hollered and even wobbled through the celebration of Barack Obama being elected for a second term. I wasn’t alone in feeling elated or at least inspired by Tuesday’s events.

Karl Lagerfeld was so moved by the election he sketched an image of Barack Obama, using a palette of colors from Shu Uemura makeup. Commissioned by a German newspaper, the designer sketched re-elected President Obama as a chef. Barack is imagined carrying a plate with a cake (which resembles The White House) in front an American flag on the morning after the election. The image features the German inscription “Der Größte Chef der Welt,” which means the biggest boss in the world.

It amazed me how many press outlets saw this as inspirational. Reports believed the image showed Lagerfeld’s pride in the reelection and in America. I, however, feel differently.

The sketch brought to mind of a scene in Spike Lee’s “X” where Malcolm X reenacts a moment from popular minstrel shows; he plays a waiter who takes on a  ‘..yassa boss, whatever you want boss…’ dynamic when serving white patrons. ‘Say boss, how dem cakes?’

Many will find that parallel extreme, but let me ask you this: why if Karl imagines Barack Obama as “the biggest boss” is he depicted serving cake to the world? Why is his indisputably powerful position being associated with waiting on people?

Pictures are meant to be interpreted in different ways, and everyone is entitled to their unique understanding of Karl’s sketch. While there are plenty of people that love the image, I have to pass on seeing my President reduced to handing out cake.

-Robyn Webb

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27 Comments

  1. Marc Jacobs is over LV

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  2. Charlotte Hicks Todd

    When I first saw the cartoon, I did not consider it an illustration, I immediately thought of the early 19th century ads of Rastus, the spokesperson for “Cream Of Wheat Cereal”. Rastus, the chef that cooked the cereal for the white family, was never depicted in an overtly racist manner. But I still would NEVER compare the P.O.T.U.S. to a chef no matter how skilled a cook he may be.

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  3. Misty

    Yes, I think the writer is stretching a bit too but we do all have the right to our own opinions. Some Clutch articles are so guilty of using imagined racism as a crutch. Change the site name to “Crutch” maybe?

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  4. Amber

    Um hes not a waiter in the picture. He’s the Head Chef, hence the hat. Thats what makes him the boss…

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    • Amber

      I just realized someone already said this so yea…co-sign

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  5. Shelly

    It reminds me of Americans expecting him to fullfill all of our needs, whether that be the healthcare we want, or more jobs, etc. So, his job is to basically “serve” the American people. Even if his job entails of other things, it seems like he has a lot of pressure to bring certain wants and needs to the table of the American people. That’s how I see it, and I don’t feel that it’s racist.

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