No Black President? No Problem.


This may come as a shock to anyone who expected Barack Obama to deliver reparations, 40 acres and a mule and a new flat-screen television to Black folks, but he’s not Black America’s president and never wanted to be.

“I want all Americans to have opportunity,” he told Black Enterprise Magazine. “I’m not the president of black America. I’m the president of the United States of America.” When asked about criticism that he hasn’t done enough to help minority-owned businesses, he said, “The programs that we have put in place have been directed at those folks who are least able to get financing through conventional means, who have been in the past locked out of opportunities that were available to everybody.”

 Obama, the first African American president, has been under pressure from some black activists to ease severe problems in the African American community such as unemployment, which is about 14 percent, far higher than the national rate of 8.3 percent. Another problem that African Americans want Obama to address is the high rate of incarceration for black men.

 But he has consistently resisted calls for any type of “black agenda.” In the Black Enterprise interview, published in the magazine’s current issue, he added: “I’ll put my track record up against anybody in terms of us putting in place broad-based programs that ultimately had a huge benefit for African American businesses.”

Obama has taken considerable heat for his refusal to advance a “Black agenda” which has turned former supporters such as Cornel West into bitter enemies.  West calls the president a “black mascot of Wall Street oligarchs,” and then twists the knife even deeper saying “I think my dear brother Barack Obama has a certain fear of free black men” and “He feels most comfortable with upper middle-class white and Jewish men who consider themselves very smart, very savvy and very effective in getting what they want.”

They love you one second and hate you the next one.

Obama has always straddled the line of rising above his Blackness and being anchored by it.  Even Obama supporters have occasionally stuck him in a Magic Negro box. Who can forget Joe Biden’s brain fart when he thought he was paying Obama a compliment, “I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy. I mean, that’s a storybook, man.”

In the process of making a million dollar contribution to a pro-Obama PAC, actor Morgan Freeman couldn’t resist qualifying how “Black” the president is. The man who has played both the president and God pointed out that Barack is not America’s first Black president. America is still waiting for its first Black president.

“They just conveniently forget that Barack had a mama, and she was White – very White American, Kansas, middle America,” Freeman said. “There was no argument about who he is or what he is. America’s first Black president hasn’t arisen yet. He’s not America’s first Black president – he’s America’s first mixed-race president.”

Obama is probably glad to receive Freeman’s money. The unwanted history lesson and the actor’s musings on racial purity? Not so much. This is the permanent dilemma of Barack Hussein Obama: too Black for some and not Black enough for others.

Even God gets it wrong every so often.

I agree with Dr. West when he says Obama has been too cautious. Too conciliatory. Too willing to give breaks to Wall Street instead of Main Street. The president been terribly served by his economic team of advisers, especially Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, his lousiest Cabinet pick and Larry Summers, West’s old nemesis from Harvard whose primary interest was protecting big banks, not the little guys screwed over by them.  There are problems specific and targeting Blacks that necessitate specific and targeted remedies.

But West is an ideologue and socialist who may had hopes he would be included in Obama’s  Black brain trust along with Henry Louis Gates, Christopher Edley and Charles Ogletree. It didn’t happen and West, a relentless publicity hound and self-promoter who is more likely to be in the studio cutting rap albums and appearing in crappy Matrix sequels than he is shaping impressionable young minds in a lecture hall.

I respect Dr. West and he’s not entirely wrong how President Obama has fallen short of realizing the hopes Black Americans placed in him, but does he have no understanding the political realities of Washington and the limitations of the presidential power?

There was never any chance the Republicans (and more than a few Democrats) would ever sign on to a targeted program specifically benefiting African-Americans.   The Republicans called healthcare reform a socialist plot.   You’d have to be nuts to expect these obstructionists to give a thumb’s up to massive new spending targeted toward 36 million African-Americans.   How does a moderate Democrat in Alabama go home to their district and sell that to their constituents as anything but another big government giveaway to Blacks?   Nuts or Cornel West, not that there’s all that much difference it seems anymore.

America has elected more than a few White Presidents of White America, but it’s not about to elect a Black President of Black America. It’s too absurd to even consider except for the hopelessly naïve and delusional.

The ideologically pure dream have the luxury of dreaming of utopias. Realists have to do the heavy lifting of complicated reality.   Whatever else that can said about Obama it has to be said he lives in the real world where if you’re not the president for as many as possible, you won’t be president for any of them long.

Black President or not, kids don’t have a problem with that.


Jennifer Aniston Needs A Magic Negro.


"So is Morgan Freeman busy?"

 Are you a formerly “hot”  actreess whose career is in freefall?   Your movies are clearing the theaters like an outbreak of H1N1 and you’re inching ever closer to “direct to DVD” oblivion?

Do what Sandra Bullock did.   Get yourself a Magic Negro. 

Let’s take the example of Jennifer Aniston whose latest clunker, The Bounty Hunter,  reeks of failure and flop sweat. 

The business of Hollywood is to turn pure fantasy into reality.   Fantasies such as Adam Sandler is funny,  Michael Bay isn’t a terrible director, Meryl Streep could play the lead in The Oprah Winfrey Story if she put her mind to it,  and  Jennifer Aniston is going to keep making movies until we all believe she’s a great actress.  

Aniston’s post-Friends career has been the answer to the question, “Whatever happened to the star of Leprechaun?”  

 Aniston is the quintessential California blonde.  She’s leggy, perpetually youthful, fresh-faced and pretty.   Her fans believe she standing on the verge of a breakout role.  The Bounty Hunter isn’t going to be the one as it is getting spectacularly awful reviews (a staggering seven percent  positive on Rotten Tomatoes).     If you remember Robert DeNiro chasing down Charles Grodin in Midnight Run and Mel Gibson and Goldie Hawn on the run from hitmen in Bird On A Wire, you’ve seen this movie already.    There!  I just saved you two hours and ten dollars.   

There’s no chance a  Black actress would still have  a career with as many underperforming films as Aniston.   Whomever her agent is they’ve been remarkably successful in keeping Aniston busy.   When Meg Ryan got both old and weird-looking and Goldie Hawn retired, Jennifer Aniston was there to make the jump from sit-coms to rom-coms despite basically playing slight variations of  her role on Friends.  

Hollywood has always attempted to groom starlets into stars, but the persistence in which it seems six months can’t go by without another Jennifer Aniston movie that looks exactly the same as the last Jennifer movie.  

"You want to know why they call me 'Big Mike', huh?"

At the age of 41, time is rapidly running out for Aniston if she hopes to ever make the  leap from eternally perky ingenue to award-winning, accomplished actress.  She tried the femme fatale part with Clive Owen in Derailed but nobody cared.   What’s left?  Either she’ll have to ugly up and play against type like Charlize Theron in Monster,  contract some terminal disease and die with dignity or she can show her acting chops by taking on a historical figure.  Meryl Streep, Helen Mirren and Hilary Swank can’t do them all, can they?    At this point, Aniston can continue to make plenty of money, but earning respect  will prove to be more elusive.     

So what’s a girl to do?     

Find herself a Magic Negro the way Bullock did in The Blind Side.   

As long as she uses her Magic Negro properly to show how kindly, liberal  and progressive she is by standing up for a poor colored boy or girl who can’t do it for themselves  it’s a lock to be nominated for Golden Globes and Academy Awards.   The critics will praise her for showing her “range” and audiences eat this kind of corny crap up with a knife and fork.  

Magic Negroes come in all sizes, shapes and genders.  Whoopi Goldberg was  the go-to girl for this kind of role, but she kind of wore it out.   Michael Clarke Duncan was the hulk with the healing touch in The Green Mile.  Will Smith showed Matt Damon how to get his mojo workin’ in The Legend of Bagger Vance.   Denzel Washington beat, shot, blew up and tortured anyone standing between him and Dakota Fanning in Man On Fire.  

The undisputed king of Magic Negro roles is Morgan Freeman.   The man just has the ability to bring out the best in White folks.   Driving Miss Daisy,  Glory,  The Shawshank Redemption, Unforgiven, Bruce Almighty, Million Dollar Baby are just a few of the many roles in which Freeman has been the Black man that makes White people want to do the right thing.   Even Batman knew he had to have Freeman as Lucius Fox to make all the wonderful toys he needs to do his job.  

Oh, and remember, Magic Negroes are not subject to Jungle Fever.  Not under any circumstances.  Magic Negroes are supposed to be inspirational, father figures, charity cases, wise beyond their years or hopelessly devoted to turning around the lives of their patrons.   They are not sex objects.   

Jennifer Lopez, another Jennifer whose career has tanked lately, is remaking Goldie Hawn’s Overboard, so maybe Aniston should follow that path.  Aniston is about the age Hawn was when she made Wildcats, the cliched fish-out-of-water story of a woman picked to coach a losing high school football team.    White women and Black jocks go together like peanut butter and jelly, so why not give it a go?    

But Aniston might want to hurry.  With Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman and Renee Zellweger  starting to look a little desperate demand will be high, suppiles low and Freeman isn’t getting any younger.   

"Need some magical healing there, Miss Aniston?"