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President Obama Shouldn't Fret Being Viewed as Angry Black Man

by Todd A. Smith

 

Oh Well

            Growing up in an affluent African American family, my mother made it clear to my sister and I at an early that we should never walk on eggshells for anyone (Black or White) who felt threatened by our success.

            My mother taught us that regardless of what you did in life, some people would like you and some people would not and it should not matter to us.  To this day, her favorite saying is “oh well.”

            Recently CNN anchor Don Lemon cautioned President Barack Obama against becoming the angry Black man, despite criticism from actor Samuel L. Jackson that he needed to stop being so relatable, and become more aggressive and presidential.

            “No Democratic president, at least in recent memory, gets help from Republicans,” Lemon told Tom Joyner of BlackAmericaWeb.com.  “Bill Clinton certainly didn’t.  Let’s just be honest.  Part of the reasons Republicans don’t like the president is because he’s a Democrat.  Part of the reason some Republicans—not all—don’t like the president is yes, because he’s Black.  You know that.  I know that.  They know that.  And the president knows that.”

            Lemon warned that President Obama “cannot get heated” because he does not want to go down in history as the angry Black man.

            “Do you really want this man to go down in history as the angry Black president?”

            While Lemon has created controversy for his opinion on Black men in recent months, I applaud him for having the courage to speak out on pertinent issues confronting Black men, regardless if his positions are popular.

            However, when it comes to whether or not the president will be perceived as the angry Black man, I can hear my mother’s voice saying “oh well.”

            Fortunately, President Obama will not go down in history as the angry Black president, but the first Black president.

            African Americans have come so far since slavery and the Civil Rights Movement that a lot of the goals we have attained seemed like a pipe dream a decade ago. 

For generations, we had to walk on eggshells in order for laws to eventually change. 

It would be a shame for us to go backwards and begin walking on eggshells just so people of a different hue can feel comfortable.  For generations, very few in America cared how comfortable we were.

            If President Obama is seen as the angry Black man in the eyes of people who will never like or respect him, then “oh well.”

            Black men have the right to be angry because even though a Black man can earn the most prestigious job in the country, many of us cannot get a basic job for whatever reason.

            Black men have the right to be angry when many are incarcerated for an excessive amount of time, when people of a lighter hue receive a far lighter sentence for similar crimes.

            And Black men should definitely get angry that some think we still have to walk on eggshells to be liked.

            Furthermore, Jackson is right in that President Obama should not try so hard to be relatable, if that’s in fact what he is trying to accomplish.

            If other Black people, or White people, are offended by his Ivy League education, “oh well.”

            If other Black people, or White people, are threatened by his oratorical skills, “oh well.”

            And if other Black people, or White people, are threatened by the success of his family, “oh well.”

            President Obama is the leader of the free world and it is not his job to earn the respect of people who do not like him.

            Critics have to respect him and the office he holds, and if they cannot handle seeing an angry Black man with that much power, “oh well.”

This article was published on Friday 27 September, 2013.
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