Monday, September 22, 2008

You Wouldn't Like Me When I'm Angry

Sam Fulwood, "Why Obama Can't Get Mad":

This is a struggle that black men—especially those of us who work in professional settings and want to remain there—grapple with daily: Showing our anger, no matter how justified, is a death sentence. We feel outrage. We want to say and demonstrate our daily frustrations, but we don't dare because we know that the release of our pent-up emotions can't ever be explained after the fact...

Journalist Mark Shields said as much on a recent broadcast of PBS' News Hour, noting that Obama won the Democratic nomination because he didn't scare white people. "He has always been controlled," Shields said. "He's always been incredibly disciplined. And I think there is a concern about his ever becoming an angry black man that would somehow be a threatening figure to some voters."

Call it the Sidney Poitier syndrome. During the racially tense '60s, Poitier was a huge Hollywood-box-office draw. He made history in 1963 as the first black man to win an Academy Award for his role as a non-threatening Negro in Lilies of the Field. Rarely did he—or any iconic black male celebrity like Jackie Robinson, Sammy Davis Jr. or Bill Cosby—exhibit any public anger.
There is this great scene in In The Heat of the Night when Poitier's Tibbs slaps the racist Endicott back:

But the point is still a good one. The biggest problem, I think, with the "Obama should tear McCain a new one" argument is that this is a big party; the President-to-be needs to be a little bit above the fray, and the guys and girls in his party need to have his back. Democrats should be lining up to beat up on McCain and the Republicans. Where's Jim Webb? Where's Bill Clinton? Where's Harry Reid?

Every single prominent national Democrat should be clamoring for the megaphone, ready to indict this administration (McCain included) for the disaster of the past eight years, a disaster which is ongoing, like a smoldering grease fire with a hot lid on top.

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