I was a Herman Cainaholic. I have been sober for almost a year. Now, commenter Sabrinabee has forced me off of the wagon. Damn her.
The coon caricature is one of the most insulting of all anti-black caricatures. The name itself, an abbreviation of raccoon, is dehumanizing. As with Sambo, the coon was portrayed as a lazy, easily frightened, chronically idle, inarticulate, buffoon. The coon differed from the Sambo in subtle but important ways. Sambo was depicted as a perpetual child, not capable of living as an independent adult. The coon acted childish, but he was an adult; albeit a good-for-little adult. Sambo was portrayed as a loyal and contented servant.
Indeed, Sambo was offered as a defense for slavery and segregation. How bad could these institutions have been, asked the racialists, if blacks were contented, even happy, being servants? The coon, although he often worked as a servant, was not happy with his status. He was, simply, too lazy or too cynical to attempt to change his lowly position. Also, by the 1900s, Sambo was identified with older, docile blacks who accepted Jim Crow laws and etiquette; whereas coons were increasingly identified with young, urban blacks who disrespected whites. Stated differently, the coon was a Sambo gone bad...
Unlike Mammy and Sambo, Coon did not know his place. He thought he was as smart as white people; however, his frequent malapropisms and distorted logic suggested that his attempt to compete intellectually with whites was pathetic. His use of bastardized English delighted white audiences and reaffirmed the then commonly held beliefs that blacks were inherently less intelligent. The minstrel coon's goal was leisure, and his leisure was spent strutting, styling, fighting, avoiding real work, eating watermelons, and making a fool of himself.
If he was married, his wife dominated him. If he was single, he sought to please the flesh without entanglements.
Herman Cain is one of the greatest race minstrels in American history. He is also a brand--one who now has a global platform for circulating his own version of new age race minstrelsy.
I mean that as a complement. There is a certain amount of artistic and performative genius necessary for Herman Cain's political blackface routine. Cain is utterly humble and transparent. He has no shame or embarrassment. This transparency enables Cain to connect with his audience by legitimizing their racism, and yearning for a time when it was okay to wear the burnt cork, and before "the blacks" got all sensitive and uppity.
I have a question. Is Herman Cain part of one of the best psyops in recent memory? Is his game that deep?
At present, the race minstrelsy coonery and buffoonery ranking of inequalities would look something like this:
Tyler Perry > BET > Herman Cain > Mantan Moreland
However, Herman Cain TV could push him to the front of the pack.
In total, Herman Cain is the anti-matter relative to Barack Obama. If the latter's ascendance represented a cultural high point for black respectability, Cain's popularity is a function of the white body politic's psychic overcompensation in response to that same moment.