By Todd A. Smith
Debate season seems to always let Americans know that this country has a long way to go to rid itself of stereotypical behavior.
Throughout the first presidential debate, President Barack Obama seemed to constantly be on the defensive, while his Republican challenger Mitt Romney seemed to be the aggressor, landing constant jabs at the incumbent.
Many political commentators even suggested that Obama did not want to come off as the angry Black man versus his White counterpart.
While no one but the president can know if that assessment is true, what does that possible notion say about America and Black male stereotypes?
After Obama’s 2008 election victory, political pundits dubbed his victory as an indication of a post-racial America.
However, the fact that people are even discussing Black male stereotypes when it pertains to the leader of the free world proves that America has so much farther to go when it comes to equality.
When Romney’s son Tagg Romney was asked by North Carolina radio show host Bill LuMaye what he thought about the president calling his father a liar during the second debate on Tuesday night, the younger Romney said he wanted to, “jump out of [his] seat and rush down to the debate stage and take a swing at him. But you can’t do that because, well first because there’s a lot of Secret Service between you and him…”
While Tagg Romney has received criticism from such political pundits as former Washington, D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty, just imagine if that comment had come from a Black male relative of the president, or the president himself. If that happened, political commentators would have blasted him with every Black male stereotype possible. If Tagg had been Black, he would have immediately been branded as violent and threatening.
If we are truly in a post-racial and post-stereotypical society, the leader of the free world would not have to walk on eggs shells during debates because of Black male stereotypes.
He could spar toe-to-toe with his White presidential counterpart without having to worry about his image as a Black man.
The president of the United States should not have to worry about Black male stereotypes and should be able to aggressively fight for his job and defend his record at all times without being seen as threatening by mainstream society.
Despite the presence of Black male stereotypes even in presidential debates, stereotypes at the highest level are not restricted to Black Americans.
During the 2008 vice-presidential debate and during the second 2012 presidential debate moderated by Candy Crowley of CNN, many political pundits wondered out loud if the male candidates would have to be gentle in the way they handled Crowley and former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin.
In a society where we tout equality of women and the equality of all races, men, including Black men, should not have to handle people that look differently with kid gloves.
If Palin and Crowley are truly equal, then the same rules apply to them when they step into the ring of political battle.
Furthermore, if a Black man ascends to the highest office of the land he should not have to fight his White counterpart with kid gloves either and no Black male stereotype should apply if we truly are in a post-racial America.
Smith is publisher of Regal Magazine, a publication dedicated to the African American community.