You don’t love Obama, black guy?

The Boondocks, an adult animated sitcom, is recognized for its commentary on racial issues in America. A lot of these issues touched upon in the show are also discussed in Baratunde Thurston’s How to be Black

A theme that comes up consistently in How to be Black is the white perception that all African-Americans passionately support, are in love with and speak for President Barack Obama. This, of course, assumes that all black people love President Obama just because he, too, is black.

This idea is explored in an episode of The Boondocks where a paradigmatic white television reporter interviews Huey Freeman (start watching at 0:25), the revolutionary protagonist of the show, about Obama’s impending election. The interviewer asks, “now that it looks like Obama is going to win, as a black African-American Negro, are you merely excited? Or are you extremely excited that everything is going to change forever?” Surprised by Huey’s muted response to the question, the reporter felt “[his] sphincter clench, and [his] scrotum contract in shock.”

Of course, since Huey is a “black African-American Negro,” the least emotional he could possibly feel about a black president is excited. While this assumption may sound hyperbolic to many people, it somewhat echoes the declarations following Obama’s election that a post-racial society had been achieved. Additionally, I remember the (very few) black students in my seventh grade class becoming celebrities at school as a result of Obama’s election. All of the sudden, their life problems were solved! Right?

  • Lee Owen

 

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2 thoughts on “You don’t love Obama, black guy?

  1. Obama’s election will surely go down in history as one of the most significant moments in American history. However, it will not go down as being a meaningful contributor in creating racial equality. I actually argue that Obama’s inauguration worsened the issues of race that already existed. Why? Because his entry into office feeds into the concept of colorblindness in our already neoliberal system. Specifically, it articulates for many whites that race isn’t really an impediment to success. It articulates that anyone can get to where they want to in life regardless of their race. However, this belief is painfully wrong. It suggests that structural violence and systems of oppression has simply gone away. It assumes that blacks (or really anyone of color) will no longer be discriminated. As we all we know, that is clearly not the case. Claiming that Obama’s inauguration makes us a colorblind society simply prevents society from recognizing the blatant issues of race that still exists. I too remember all the celebration that occurred in my town when his election was televised. So many African Americans in my community were almost expecting his election to bring them out of poverty. Clearly that didn’t happen. On the contrary, racial tension and conflict has simply increased. Racial inequality is still as rampant as it ever was. I repeat, Obama’s election has not had a significant impact on racial issues.

    I really enjoyed this blog. Your tone accentuates the ignorance behind thinking that Obama’s election was the answer to all African Americans’ prayers. Of course it isn’t…. we still have a ways to go.

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  2. I think you make a great point here but, there is some truth to this assumption that “all black people love Obama”. Politically, people tend to rally around descriptive representatives (people that look like them running for public office) especially, those who actually have a fighting chance to becoming the President of the United States. Obama campaign slogan “Yes we can” did a fabulous job at eliciting the emotions to get black people to the polls. What that slogan did, was bring hope to African Americans in this country that through all the oppression and discrimination better days are ahead. It echoed the words of Sam Cooke’s “A Change is Gonna Come” (1963) which was a song that became one of the songs of the Civil Rights Movement which created an image of Obama as the modern day civil rights “knight in shining armor” for minorities. Although many black Americans are disillusioned now and racial inequality has not been be solved as blacks had hoped once we elected him; we cannot neglect the impact he has had on young black Americans. Seeing a black president in office, regardless of what he, has or has, not accomplished for the black community does tell young black people in this country that they CAN achieve anything they want to. That is really important especially, in a country full of people actively working to tell you you can’t.

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