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When “Helpful Advice” is Really a Poorly Veiled Racist Stereotype

October 15, 2012

There’s another debate tomorrow. So of course, lefterly leaning pundits have all decided that what the president needs to do is let out his “Angry Black Man,” and everything will be OK.

Because, you know, the problem with the last debate was that the president appeared “timid.” And if he would just be the opposite of timid, more aggressive I guess, things will turn out wonderfully.

And apparently letting Romney lie for half an hour was the president “being overly deferential” or that he did so because “we are afraid he’s going to be called an angry black man.”


Fuck you Mr. Mahr. Fuck you, Mr. Moore, Fuck you, Mr. Shultz and Fuck you Dr. Dyson. Fuck all of you and anyone else who repeats that bullshit. Especially, you Dyson because you damned well know better. You go sit on the exceptionally bullshit step. I’ll get to you in a moment.

As for the rest of you all those things you said? THAT’S RACIST! Stop it right now, this instant.

The president, like every other Person of Color in America knows that any expression of anger will be classified and vilified as the “Angry Black Person” stereotype. He gets it right now and he’s practically cultivated the public persona of a Vulcan. He’s not expressing fear. He’s functioning under burden of certainty that all PoC in this country function under.

And you know what? That fact that three white men can’t express the term aggressive is a part of the problem. In the minds of these people and clearly many others, any anger the president expresses must be racially motivated. He can’t express the same outrage at the lies and generally craptastic policies of the Republicans that Biden did. That’s part of the reason he tapped Biden in the first place. Biden can and will attack when necessary. Obama can’t.

Anyone who lives in the real world and isn’t blinded by their preconceived notions of race knows that. But these pundits are unable to speak to that. Instead they become part of the problem. They keep thinking that Obama is the Incredible Hulk with a mild-mannered exterior and uncontrollable rage over the oppression of the black man pulsing within. All he has to do is step into a phone booth; tear off his suit and underneath he’s Huey P. Newton.

In attributing any aggression that the president may express, even if imaginary, to race these liberal pundits buy into and enforce the racist stereotype which they claim is the cause of the problem.

And you, Mr. Dyson! You’ve built your entire career on dancing the line between Angry Black Man and palatably black commentator; as “a Princeton Ph.D. and a child of the streets who takes pains never to separate the two.”

You know that nothing the president does short of having not been born part black would help him escape the Angry Black Man label. Not one thing.

Now there’s an argument to be made that if the stereotype is going to be applied to him anyway then he should just go with it, use it to knock some bodies down, as the sadly fictional Tobey Zigler might say. But the thing is, this isn’t The West Wing. Barack Obama, having lived his entire life as himself, knows better than anyone what he can and can’t get away with as a man who is perceived as black by others.

The choice to express the outrage is the one I would make but I’m not running for anything and frankly, if I did, I would lose. Why? Because black people can’t do that shit and get away with it in the real world.

Why can’t the president be more aggressive by your standard? Because he has never, ever, at any point in his entire life been held to that standard. He, and every PoC, is held to an entirely different ever shifting standard that basically comes down to “any emotion you express will be identified as anger and you will be in the wrong for expressing it.”

Why shouldn’t the president be more aggressive by your standard? Because fuck your standard. His understanding of how he should behave has served him well his whole life. If we trust him to govern the nation we should trust him to govern himself.

Until you are able to talk about that in any sort of realistic, honest, responsible way, STFU about how the PoC should act.

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