Friday, July 3, 2009

"Meek and Mild"

Yesterday, I suggested that Barack Obama's problem was that he came to power by not being a "scary black man." Today, I listened to the podcast of WNYC's "On The Media," and heard some relevant commentary. Here's a quotation from Duke historian Tim Tyson:
There's a sense in which Mrs. Parks is very important to our post-civil rights racial narrative, because we really want a kind of sugar-coated civil rights movement that's about purity and interracial non-violence. And so we don't really want to meet the real Rosa Parks. We don't, for example, want to know that in the late 1960s, Rosa Parks became a black nationalist and a great admirer of Malcolm X. I met Rosa Parks at the funeral of Robert F. Williams, who had fought the Ku Klux Klan in North Carolina with a machine gun in the late 1950s and then fled to Cuba, and had been a kind of international revolutionary icon of black power. Ms. Parks delivered the eulogy at his funeral. She talks in her autobiography and says that she never believed in non-violence and that she was incapable of that herself, and that she kept guns in her home to protect her family. But we want a little old lady with tired feet. You may have noticed we don't have a lot of pacifist white heroes. We prefer our black people meek and mild, I think.
Barack Obama is no Rosa Parks. He remains "meek and mild," despite the fact that he is now the President of the United States of America. I guess old habits die hard. Granted, his chance of winning that office would have been about as great as Jesse Jackson's if he hadn't played the "good nigger" so well, but now he's there, and he's there in a time of multiple crises. "Meek and mild" won't cut it.

Come on, Barack! Nobody's saying you have to be an arrogant asshole like Bush, but a touch of "scary black man" might be just what we need right now.

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