Even discussing ‘angry black man’ stereotype provokes anger

Even discussing ‘angry black man’ stereotype provokes anger


John Blake

(CNN) — Here are some sound bites from the post-racial era:

“The long legged Mac Daddy in the White House is angry this morning. Seems to me we should change the name to the Black House for the next few years. Your news organization obviously is very racist.”


“I don’t care what anyone says. If Obama takes to heart the calls for anger in this crisis all bets are off! White America will dump him right on his black a#s.”

Last week, CNN published an article entitled “Why Obama doesn’t dare become the ‘angry black man’ ” after critics complained that President Obama had not displayed enough anger in response to the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster.

The article quoted scholars on race relations who said many white Americans would be unsettled by Obama losing his temper because he would evoke the stereotype of the angry African-American man.

…The phrase comes as no surprise to Rainier Spencer, director of Afro-American Studies Program at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas.

Spencer said the angry black man stereotype has its origins in slavery. During slavery, white men feared black men like Nat Turner who resisted slavery. They were the black men who led slave insurrections and were sold further South. They were called Bucks.

“There’s the image of the minstrel, the happy, silly Negro who is fun to watch and laugh at. But the other one—the Buck—is the one you have to be careful about,” Spencer said.

The angry black man stereotype persisted after the end of slavery, Spencer said. Black militants in the civil rights movement; today’s black male rap artists—all are equated with some variation of the angry black man, Spencer said.

But Spencer said the angry black man stereotype doesn’t have the bite it once had. Certain black male public figures—Obama, Colin Powell—can display anger…

Why do we have to talk so much about race?

But who says a black man is running the country?

Some readers got miffed because CNN identified Obama as a black president. He’s biracial, they say.

“CNN get your facts straight—he is an angry half-black man! CNN you are a bunch of idiot race-baiters.”


“Maybe the 50 percent white part of him keeps the 50 percent angry black part calm and collected and on an even keel. Hmmm, that might be worthy of a university study! Could be ground-breaking science here! I’ll bet the guvment’ would even pay for it!”

Spencer, the race scholar from UNLV, said that Obama has already made his identity choice. He identified himself as black on his census form. He is perceived and accepted as black my most African-Americans.

Obama’s racial background doesn’t make him unlike most blacks; it makes him similar to most blacks, Spencer said.

Spencer, who is writing a book on mixed race, said an estimated 90 percent of African-Americans have white ancestors, including Michelle Obama, the first lady.

“It doesn’t make sense to talk about mixed race unless you’re going to include all 30 million African-Americans,” said Spencer, author of the upcoming book, “Reproducing Race: The Paradox of Generation Mix.”…

Read the entire article here.

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