Wednesday, May 29, 2024

The Misappropriation of President Obama…

February 3, 2009 by  
Filed under News, Weekly Columns

( Throughout the recent and historic presidential campaign, scholars, academicians and theologians alike contended that the ascension of Barack Obama towards the presidency would have a lasting ripple effect. One that would be specifically and especially important to African-American men.

I’m still waiting…

Don’t get me wrong, I’m patient; but we’re not off to a good start. No really, I am very patient…but I notice when things are not moving in the proper direction.

It was reasonable enough to believe that when a young (in a political sense) Black man rose to the highest office in the free world, Black men’s pants all over the land would at least rise above their collective asses.

If the phrase “President Obama” wasn’t enough, there’s also “Chairman Steele”…as in Republican National Committee chairman, Michael Steele. And let’s not forget Coach Tomlin…a.k.a. “Youngest Super Bowl Champion Coach Ever” Mike Tomlin.


Within the space of a fortnight, not only have we as African-American males gained the most coveted “role models” in all the world, but single-handedly destroyed an abundance of stereotypes in the process.

To which, Jay-Z and Young Jeezy celebrated and saluted the office of the presidency with their wholly derogatory N-Word fest during their inaugural celebrations. Also, Rick Ross and 50 Cent have publicly declared war on one-another in both rhyme and reality. If that weren’t enough, Eddie Murphy is back in the “news” for his supposed refusal to acknowledge or visit his 22-month-old daughter by Mel B.

On one hand, for those of you who thought the world was magically going to change the moment President Obama finished his oath of office (either time), welcome back to reality. And on the other hand, those of you out there “celebrating” the shared Blackness you have with President Obama, but not sharing in his humanity, you missed the point.

“My president is black, my Lambo’s blue

And I’ll be goddamned if my rims ain’t too

My momma ain’t at home, and daddy’s still in jail.”

Young Jeezy – My President Is Black

Young Jeezy…if the only thing you wish to appropriate from President Obama is his color, you missed the point. You may not appreciate criticism from the likes of a Bill O’Reilly and question why he doesn’t speak out on “other” more important issues to African-Americans, but his point is still valid.

Bill O’Reilly is an unmitigated ass, but his point is still valid nonetheless. Jeezy’s public behavior was unconscionable.

The responsibility of having a “Black” president requires more than forming a “color kinship.” It means internalizing his humanity. It means acknowledging the same respect for Black women and fatherhood that our “Black” president does.

It includes exalting the institution of marriage in the same manner that our “Black” president does. Ultimately more is required of Black men post-January 20 than simply reveling in Obama’s “Blackness.” It means reversing direction and realigning our collective trajectory. To meaningfully and sincerely “celebrate” the accomplishments of Black men like President Obama, Chairman Steele and Coach Tomlin, it requires removing “Nigga” from one’s vocabulary.

It’s a requirement, not a suggestion.

It demands sense enough to not declare war on another Black man, especially for the sake of album sales or to be “king” of the hip-hop misogynists.

Young Jeezy didn’t seem to understand, such is the cost of having a “Black” president. Jay-Z, for all his financial success still doesn’t seems understand that 40+ year old MEN don’t strive to mimic behavior of teenagers in thought, word or deed. Grown men SET the example, not kowtow to pubescent whimsicality…Shawn Carter. 50 Cent can’t publicly “endorse” Barack Obama in 2008 and publicly declare war on Rick Ross in 2009.

We wanted a “Black” president, right? Well this is the fine print.

An African-American man is leader of the free world…act like it my brothers. President Obama’s legacy is not best served by linking it to rims and “lambos” in lyrics. President Obama said it was time to put away childish things…maybe hip-hop collectively missed that part of the inauguration while sipping on Cristal. Nevertheless, it’s always available in 1st Corinthians whenever you guys have time.

Michael Steele, a political moderate by most accounts will now be charged with the immediate future of the Republican Party. Steele is not a self-loathing clone of Justice Clarence Thomas, talk show host Larry Elder or politician Alan Keyes. Steele is a man who loves his heritage and is keenly committed and connected to our African-American community. Philosophically and politically he may be in disagreement with the multitude of African-Americans but nowhere should it be said he’s not madly in love with our people.

The election of Barack Obama was supposed to indicate the coming of age of the African-American electorate…act like it my people.

An African-American man who sincerely loves Black people now runs the minority party of the U.S. government…act like it my brothers.

An African-American man has coached the Pittsburgh Steelers to the Super Bowl title in only his second year to become the youngest coach EVER to WIN an NFL championship. And he did it while 43 million people watched…just for good measure.

Young African-American men have three distinct, public examples in which to emulate and pattern their lives. We as African-Americans must do more to CORRECTLY highlight and celebrate these types of accomplishments as well as their humanity in our community. We must no longer allow for stupidity personified to serve as the archetype for the African-American male.

We know the consequences of “rap beefs.” History is clear; they lead to stabbings at award shows. History is unambiguous, they lead to drive-by shootings at after-parties of the aforementioned award shows. And most importantly, they further ingrain the mentality that Black manhood is nothing more than a self-fulfilling prophecy of ignorance, hatred and untimely death.

And Eddie Murphy…feel free to acknowledge and involve yourself with your 22-month-old child any day now. No rush. You have plenty time before she reaches high school.

If the recent and rounding successes of President Barack Obama, Chairman Michael Steele and Coach Mike Tomlin don’t force you as an African-American man to reassess the depth of your love and quality of service to African-Americans, then shame on you.

Shame on you.

Written By Morris O’Kelly

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