Wikihow, the people who brought you “How to Stop Being Racist” and the Mother’s Day classic, “How to Hide an Erection,” (not to be confused with “How to Suppress An Erection”), has leapt over its own absurdist bar with “How to Become a Congressman.” This time, the tutorial stars Jay-Z, Beyonce, and Former President Barack Obama as white people.
Check out the inspiration and the Wikihow adjustment:
Wikihow turned Obama, Beyoncé, and Jay Z white to explain "How to become a congressman." pic.twitter.com/QNTGz5wjaq
— FORMATION (@beyupdates_) January 22, 2017
It appears that Wikihow removed the illustration after tweets calling out the whitewashing.
Couple things, regardless. First, the original photo comes from a 2012 presidential fundraiser for Obama hosted by Jay and Bey. The context is a little bit off, too. Obama was running for re-election, not Congress. And then we have the elephant in the room: these people are not white. Obama is mixed-race, of course, but the illustrator gave him floppy brown hair to hide it. Jay-Z’s illustrated counterpart looks more like the real Barack Obama than the illustrated version of Obama does.
Wikihow’s bizarre illustrations are one of the oldest running gags on the internet. A moderately viral game from last April was to blindly match illustrations to their corresponding Wikihow article. It was nearly impossible because the art is frequently a horrifying or confusing non-sequitur.
The issue isn’t that some freelance illustrator whitewashed Jay-Z, Obama and Beyoncé. Moreso, the implication that garnering political power — especially when the Trump’s presidential cabinet is slated to be its whitest in decades — means becoming less black. And if Wikihow was gonna go there, the site should have at least made it explicit and put “Be less non-white” somewhere in the article.
Bottom line: is this something to be outraged over? No. Is it creepily prescient and speaks to a much larger culture issue? Oh yeah.