Friday, December 12, 2008


Its stories like this that make one realize that, as a black woman, no matter how much you achieve, this society has a fixed image of you. If its not a mammy, its an angry black woman, a Sapphire, Jezebel and for racist white men (and many black men), a punching bag. A reminder to black women to never forget who you are and learn to appreciate yourself. It looks like no one else out there is going to.

E-mail about Michelle Obama's dress puts Canyon official in the hot seat

Canyon County Commissioner Steve Rule is coming under fire for circulating an e-mail that compares Michelle Obama's election-night dress to a black widow spider.

An online reporter posted an article about the e-mail Wednesday, calling it racist and outrageous. Rule says he didn't see it as racist but realizes now it was inappropriate to forward that message from his county computer.

Jill Kuraitis of New obtained a printed copy of the e-mail, which Rule received from a family member then forwarded to 26 people from his county e-mail account on Dec. 2.

Kuraitis said the e-mail features a photo of a black widow spider next to a photo of Michelle Obama in a black and red dress holding her elder daughter's hand at the election-night event where Barack Obama accepted his election as the next president of the United States. Featuring boldface and underlines for emphasis, the e-mail reads, in part: "The female has a very wide backside, is Black, and has a red hour glass shaped marking on her belly You can find this spider in: Closets, Wood piles, Under Beds And soonTHE WHITE HOUSE!!!!"

Kuraitis decried the message as racist, noting that it emphasizes the word "black" and plays into racial stereotypes.

"I didn't see it that way," Rule told the Idaho Statesman. "I didn't study the e-mail I just thought the markings on her dress was very similar to that of the spider, and I thought it was kind of funny. For me, it was all about the dress."

"But apparently it offended some people, and I'm sorry," he said.

Rule, a Republican who was unopposed for re-election on November's ballot, said a relative sent the message to his private e-mail address but he forwarded it from his official e-mail to people who had sent him humorous e-mails in the past.

Canyon County has an e-mail policy that states county e-mail accounts "are to be used for job-related communications only," but that policy applies only to county employees, not to elected officials, county spokeswoman Angie Sillonis said. Commissioners and other elected officials must abide by state code, but Sillonis said she could find no state law that prohibited an action such as the e-mail forwarded by Rule.

She said the commissioners' office has not received any complaints about the e-mail.

Rule vowed not to send other e-mails from his county computer unless the message is related to county business.

"It's probably a good wake-up call for me and for all county and state employees," he said.