Jelani goes there:
Seriously, I thought that I was beyond the point in life where terms like "sellout" and "lawn jockey" were part of my racial vocabulary. At a certain point I concluded that race is too complex an issue and human behavior too variable and complicated for those kinds of terms to be of much use. And it's true. Most of the time.
But every so often you come across something so base, so plantation-esque that it takes you right back to the X-Clan days. It is in this spirit that I've created the first annual Lawn Jockey award for those folk who make me want to drape myself in Kente cloth, break out the kufi and question someone's blackness.
I've disagreed publicly with Juan Williams before but this drive-by assault on Michelle Obama caught me off guard completely. The simpleton idea that a Princeton-Harvard educated lawyer and hospital executive is a "radical militant" is wrong on multiple levels not the least of which is the fact that Williams isn't even striving for originality here. It is so faulty, in fact, that it is more akin to the intercoastal assaults from 90s hip hop than reasoned public commentary.
I think Jelani was fairer to Juan than Juan was to Michelle. That said, I'm not quite ready to call Williams a sell-out, mostly because I think it doesn't precisely name what he's doing. Williams makes his career on Fox News, where there's a premium on making silly predictions and statements. In Williams' case, many of those statements happen to be about black people.
Hmmm, not exactly making my point here...
Here's what I think. I think Williams isn't necessarily trying to sell anyone out, I think he just can't make heads or tails of the Obamas. In some ways, they represent a kind of unapologetic blackness that I think people have always thought of as counter to what America was, and what Americans would accept. To find that not to be true, I think, has caused some heads to explode. To understand Obama and black folks you need some nuance--a quality that was in small supply amongst 90s era culture warriors like Williams. If you're a pundit who's made a career mistaking Al Sharpton for the whole of black America, than in this Obama era, in the words epic words of Illidan, you are not prepared.