Exposing an Ancient Hatred

For black people, the clear benefit of Obama is that he is quietly exposing an ancient hatred that has simmered in this country for decades. Rightly or wrongly, a lot of us grew tired of Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, mostly because they presented easy foils for Limbaugh-land. Moreover, again rightly or wrongly, they were used to define all of us.

It’s intensely grating to live say, in Atlanta, and have some dude in Harlem crowned as your unelected leader. It’s even more grating if said dude’s agenda seems, in large measure, come down to standing in front of cameras and tweaking his opponents. It’s no mistake that O’Reilly and Sharpton would break bread together at Sylvia’s–they feed each other.

But Barack Obama, bourgeois in every way that bourgeois is right and just, will not dance.He tells kids to study–and they seethe. He accepts an apology for an immature act of rudeness–and they go hysterical. He takes his wife out for a date–and their veins bulge. His humanity, his ordinary blackness, is killing them. Dig the audio of his response to Kanye West–the way he says, “He’s a jackass.” He sounds like one of my brothers. And that’s the point, because that’s what he is. Barack Obama refuses to be their nigger. And it’s driving them crazy.

It’s about time.

Ta-Nehisi Coates

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3 thoughts on “Exposing an Ancient Hatred

  1. along those lines, it gives me joy to see the photos of the President surrounded by dour old white guys (and a few gals), and how it leads me to hope that my kids will grow up with history books flashing archetypal photos of black presidents, women presidents, native american presidents, and who knows who else. simply that we wont equate a race with servitude, nor another with superiority.

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