As if an actual elbow to the face wasn't enough...
In the wake of the pickup-game-elbowing President Obama received last week, Washington Post Metro columnist Courtland Milloy raises the question of whether President Obama suppresses his personality to please white America, a topic we haven't heard much about since the early days of Obama's presidency. (The definitive mainstream media discussion point on Obama's racialized perceptions, as far as I'm aware, was Nia-Malika Henderson's story in Politico in March 2009.)
By most accounts, Obama acts like a black man behind closed doors. He talks trash while shooting hoops, talks Chicago South Side tough with his aides and conveys a range of emotions, including anger.
Once in public, though, he demurs - as if upholding some unspoken bargain with white America to never look like an angry black man in exchange for continued off-the-charts "likability" ratings and a shot at reelection in 2012.
It's bad enough that there are so few black men in public life who can be thought of as feared and respected - except for athletes such as, say, LeBron James. No black "Hammer" in the House, as Tom DeLay was called. No black arm-twisting Dick Cheney or in-your-face Rahm Emanuel lurking in the West Wing. Not even a black James Carville just to show up and harass the opposition.
But for a black president to apparently choose to be the Great Placator is downright embarrassing. ...
First of all, "Black Hammer" sounds like a 1970s film starring either Richard Roundtree or Isaac Hayes, and such a president would undoubtedly bust heads while also violating many police regulations. Black Dick Cheney also sounds intriguing. Black Bush was a lot funnier. But it seems unfair to hold Obama to such standards.