Wednesday, June 9, 2010

How Many Ways can Barack Obama be an Angry Black Man?



Barack Obama is facing a challenge from across the political aisle where both liberals and conservatives are calling for him to show anger about the BP oil spill. The groundwork for this critique began during the 2008 campaign, where to some in the media and among the public, Obama seemed too "intellectual" and "distant" to be an effective leader. Metaphorically, Obama was Spock, while John McCain was Captain Kirk--the former cerebral and disciplined; the latter emotional and daring.

Here, Barack Obama is a bound man. On one hand, because of moribund constructions of gender, Obama is unable to show a full range of emotions that go beyond "anger" or "strength." To cry or to be vulnerable are still (even in the 21st century) looked upon by many as traits unbecoming a "real" man. As a Black man, Barack Obama is doubly restrained. If Obama shows any amount of upset he risks easily falling into narrow and stereotyped caricatures of black manhood--especially as when viewed through the white gaze.

The error here is an assumption that black anger is one dimensional. In fact, black anger is complex--with many rooms in its proverbial house. To point: in an effort to help Obama negotiate his "anger" problem I have compiled a helpful list of archetypes from which he can borrow.

Which of the following models are best suited for President Obama? And what types of black anger can be added to our list?

How Many Ways can Barack Obama be an Angry Black Man?

1. Stylized and cartoonish: Sam Jackson.

2. Primal, libidinous, and a force of nature: Mike Tyson.

3. Literati, intellectual, and creative: James Baldwin.

4. Crazy, nonsensical, and self-loathing: Alan Keyes.

5. Rage of a black privileged class: George Jefferson.

6. So smart that he scared white people to death: Malcolm X.

7. 1960's Black nationalist in a leather jacket and a beret: Stokely Carmichael.

8. Hollywood black anger: Spike Lee.

9. Respectable and non-threatening to White people: Sidney Poitier.

10. White liberal black rage: John Brown.

11. Apocalyptic black rage: Nat Turner.

12. Anger in the prophetic tradition: Reverend Wright.

13. Black rage that (most) white people were willfully blind to seeing: Martin Luther King Jr.

10 comments:

OhCrapIHaveACrushOnSarahPalin said...

14. Mr. Tibbs.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=12iWfqfcS1Q

Anonymous said...

I vote for some cool transitions between Sidney Poitier/Mr. Tibbs. If/when the Pres. does decide to treat lives, he should structure it so Joe Biden is "George Jefferson" black.

Chris Albertson said...

I think the anger is there, it just has to be emancipated. An anger management undo button needs to be pushed.

Anonymous said...

I'd like to see him go number 6 on our our asses. Stroll up to the podium with a cigarette in his mouth, take a long drawl and flick it at the press corps....

"Good evening ladies and gentlemen. We have been lying to you about 9/11. The Army is protecting opium crops in Afghanistan. Our only purpose in the Middle East is to destabilize the region. We're about to bomb Iran. Bin Laden has been dead for awhile now. I'll now take your ques..." ***POP***

at about that point he would be taken out a lone gunmen, CIA style. He should probably stick with number 8: Fake Hollywood anger

Genius slowly going Insane said...

Even if they where to take him out CIA style for being #6 I'd still love to see it. Maybe then the revolution for change will come. And people will riot in the streets and change this country by force.

You can't deny that yes there is a revolution of sorts taking part due to Obama becoming president in the way he became president. But, because he is making change on the governments terms change is coming slow and I can't help but, feel like a frog in pot of water being slowly brought to a boil.

40 Diesel Drewpreme said...

#15. Spook Who Sat By The Door: Dan "Turk" Freeman style.

Singlehandedly the greatest piece of Black Cinema (along with "A Soldier's Story") Barry-O might be plotting and laying in the cut while his Cobra's are at the ready to get this revolution started. It would impress me even further that on his way out of office he pardon's Larry Hoover & Jeff Fort to get his clandestine troops going.

chaunceydevega said...

@OhCrap--Folks do love some Mr. Tibbs-angry but respectable.

@Chris--that is the problem, his anger has to be managed and can't be revealed.

@Anon-Better safe than sorry. But, I would like to have a mic in the room for his private fits. I bet they are priceless.

@Genius--Is a change gonna come?

@40 Diesel--Funny, Sgt. Waters was on the list originally but we couldn't figure out how to categorize him. The Spook Who Sat by the Door is priceless btw. Ever read the book?

40 Diesel Drewpreme said...

Sgt. Vernon Waters is "He who wear the mask" Angry Black Man.

Ashamedly I have yet to read the book. The movie is just so powerful. There is no way that movie gets made in Tyler Perry's Mammywood.

Carl said...

This is a little late, but I think Principal Joe Clark in "Lean on Me" should also be a viable option.

jsabotta said...

Stalinist boot-licking rage: Paul Robeson
Manchukuo fan rage: W.E.B. DuBois

Or:

Shill for an upper-middle-class white liberal authoritarianism dedicated to the destruction of individual liberty rage; President Obama