Cartoon: I Voted For Obama!

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I’ve seen this come up more than once – whites talking about voting for Obama in response to questions about racism. It’s a common enough behavior so that Jordan Peele made fun of it in his brilliant horror movie Get Out.

I’ve also seen a variant of this leveraged to say that Trump’s election has nothing to do with racism. Some Trump voters previously voted for Obama, therefore it is ridiculous to suggest that voting for Trump could be related to racism, the argument goes.

Regarding this cartoon, I always like this structure for a gag cartoon. In my mind, I call it “the mystery explained,” in which a bewildering or impossible-seeming situation developed in the first few panels is clarified in the final panel.

Incidentally, as far as I can recall, this is only the second time I’ve drawn Obama in a cartoon. I’m pretty happy with how he came out. It’s largely because Obama’s in the strip that I didn’t do my usual very limited color palette – I used skin tones I picked up from a photo of Obama, to help make him more recognizable, and between that and the fireworks it just felt like doing a more typical coloring job made sense for this cartoon.

That I so rarely draw major political figures, preferring to focus on social justice issues rather than the daily headlines, is one reason my editorial cartoons aren’t very commercial. So thanks, as always, to everyone supporting the Patreon. :-)

Transcript of Cartoon

The cartoon has four panels.1

Panel 1

The image shows a white woman, looking very pleased, stepping out of a voting booth.
WOMAN: It is done! I, a white person, have voted for Barack Obama!

Panel 2

The woman is surprised by Barack Obama being there. Obama is dressed in his standard dark suit, and looks cheerful.
WOMAN: Gasp! Barack Obama!
OBAMA: Hi, Judy! Thanks for your vote!

Panel 3

A close up on Obama holding up a piece of paper which says “certificate” in large letters at the top. Behind Obama, the voting station has disappeared, and fireworks fill the air.

OBAMA: As the duly-elected spokesman of all Black people, let me present this certificate signifying that nothing you say or do is ever racist!

Panel 4

A new scene shows the same woman, now in a different outfit, talking to three skeptical-looking Black folks.

WOMAN: And then Michelle Obama came out, and she said…

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9 Responses to Cartoon: I Voted For Obama!

  1. 1
    Jason Shiga says:

    A rare political cartoon where the politician depicted isn’t the target of the satire.

  2. 2
    RonF says:

    I didn’t vote for Obama for President, mainly because of what I saw and heard while he was my Senator. Of course, in the 2004 Illinois Senatorial election both major party candidates for the Senate were black. But somehow that never got much play in the media. Sometimes I think the MSM thinks that black GOP candidates aren’t really black.

  3. 3
    Joe in Australia says:

    I still kinda want to know what Michelle said.

  4. 4
    Sebastian H says:

    I think you’re misunderstanding the Trump/Obama/racism discussion. It’s a commentary on how ‘racism’ is used in the discussion of Democratic politics and priorities. It’s a critique of the “they are racists so we should ignore their concerns [about how globalism has screwed them for example]”. Or “they are racists therefore they are unreachable so we should just ignore them”.

    But someone who voted for Obama may be racist in some ivory tower technical sense, but not at all in the “they are unreachable so we should ignore them” sense. It’s the danger of letting the definition of “racist” expand in so many directions and to describe too many things, because then when people use it in the “irredeemable and should be sidelined” sense it sounds like you are talking about 3/4 of the population.

    The kind of ‘racists’ who are willing to vote for a black man for President are the kind of racists that we can still engage with politically.

  5. 5
    Eytan Zweig says:

    Somebody who voted Obama may be racist in lots of ways that manifest in how they relate to people of colour in their daily lives. I know people who quite happily voted for a black president, but would never accept their child bringing home a black significant other. I know someone who campaigned for Obama, but has said (while talking to someone else at a table I was sat on) that he chose his new (white) secretary over a black candidate because “black secretaries are too lazy”. This isn’t racist in some “ivory tower” way. This is being racist in an active way with real consequences and simply not extending that racism directly to the position of president, in the latter case, at least, because the person in question believes that Obama was an exceptional black person to whom his generalizations didn’t apply.

  6. 6
    Gracchus says:

    I think Eytan makes an extraordinary point.

    Racism is about one’s attitude towards races as large groups. It is entirely possible to be racist towards a large group but indulgent towards, or even close to, individual members. One can just say that one’s friend/brother-in-law/partner/coworker/mentor/protege/whatever is an “exception”.

    I sometimes think it can even slightly reinforce it. Like if a white person has an Asian wife (the example I’m personally most familiar with) they obviously feel more warmly to their wife than they do to some random Asian person, can more keenly appreciate their wife’s virtues and forgive their flaws, etc etc. This is only natural, but it becomes politicised when they apply that perfectly natural “person I am close to/person I am not close to” comparison to a diagnosis of a race.

  7. 7
    Sebastian H says:

    Ok, but that’s still misunderstanding the context of “voted for Obama” in the conversation. It means that they are within reach from an electoral perspective. Not ‘deploarables’ that have to be just written off. (Or even which can be just written off if you want to win).

  8. 8
    Eytan Zweig says:

    Who called anyone deplorable? Or said that they are unreachable? Or even mentioned future elections?

    You seem to be really interested in having a discussion about something else than what this cartoon is about.

  9. 9
    Sebastian H says:

    The cartoon appears to have a context. But perhaps not.