The videos exploit every possible racist stereotype for a laugh. Some journalists are accepting them as straightforward satire, by artists who are themselves African American, but self-directed satire is not the whole story.
The conservative media is giving lots of attention. The Drudge Report on Monday linked to the first video, by Mr. EBT, showing the singer buying junk food with an EBT card belonging to somebody else. Fox News covers the same story.
The second video is far worse. In it, the singer Latoya "Chapter" Hicks adopts the fanciful character of Keywanda, a foul-mouthed, sexaholic, beer-swigging, chain-smoking Black mother of 10 children. She sings that "all you gotta do is f---" and 9 months later you get lots of government benefits.
Chapter's website, which hosts the video, and "Creative Indie Artists," which produced her song and video, are both projects of Christopher A. Jackson, a White man from California whose other job is as an executive for KROQUE, a military apparel contractor. The Fact Evangelist found the link to the apparel contractor raised questions about the origin of this music project.
Digging a little further, I found an old MySpace page for Christopher Jackson.
On the same MySpace page, there is a 2-year-old comment from Chapter, the singer in the video, introducing herself:
HELLO NEW FRIEND,
PLEASE CHECK OUT MY NEW SONGS I WROTE- PAY ME MY MONEY, LEFT OUT , CUTIE GOT BOOTIE
I AM A POP AND R&B SONGWRITER
I wrote Jackson, seeking further information about the collaboration with Chapter. He responded today:
Chapter and I wrote the lyrics and Chapter produced and arranged the song. She is releasing another video this Saturday 9/24 and will continue to release a new video each month.When I asked if this was hard-hitting anti-welfare social commentary, Jackson described the video as "a hard-hitting anti welfare-abuse-program pro social lesson."
An Ohio blog discusses whether the Chapter video is racist. This whole episode reminds me of the tiff in May, when Newt Gingrich called Obama the "food stamp president" and then successfully parried accusations that he was tooting a racist dog whistle. The episode also brought to mind something very strange that I had noticed in the readership logs for this blog. One of the highest-traffic posts in my archives is an old post about race and food stamps. It turns out that hundreds of people on the internet are Googling the topic "race and food stamps." Try it yourself and you can find truly depraved and racist discussion lists.
I hope Obama Foodorama and others who link to these videos will explore them a little further than they have so far. Because these videos purport to be satire, I know I run the risk of seeming humorless. But I'm not laughing yet.
[Update, same day: deleted one intemperate sentence.]