Sunday, December 10, 2006

black presidents (part one)

It is amazing to me how powerful the very concept of a "Black President" is in terms of the varied ways it has been a frequent catalyst for the popular comedic, dramatical and political imagination.

At first, I was just looking around on YouTube and came across Richard Pryor doing a "Black President" sketch for his short-lived television series but very quickly many other examples sprang to mind.

Dave Chappelle: Black President Bush
Dave Chappelle: If Deep Impact kept it real (Dave as Morgan Freeman as the President)
Dave Chappelle: Wyclef's If I was President
Wyclef's Video: If I was President

In 1964, Irving Wallace published a novel called "The Man" about the first Black president of the United States. The book was later on made into a film with James Earl Jones as the lead. The screenplay was written by Rod Serling who is most famous as the creator of the Twilight Zone. (I'll try not to read too much into that). Of course the main character isn't actually elected as President. Instead he was elected to the Senate (and becomes President Pro Tempore) but after the first couple of people in the Presidential order of succession either die or become incapacitated he becomes the next person in line.

More recently we have also have Dennis Haysbert's portrayal of Black President, David Palmer on the popular series 24.

The last two examples are the most realistic and emphasize the complex set of challenges and obstacles which would face a Black man who fills "the most powerful office on the planet". The earlier examples are more imaginative than realistic and (with the exception of Black Bush) I would argue that the Black President idea is used as a vehicle to express a certain utopian vision.

An example which is both absolutely realistic and totally hilarious is the Onion piece: Zambia Elects Black President

Although strictly speaking, not on Black Presidents, there are also some poignant examples of criticizing the current president in terms of his policies towards the Black community among others:
Pink - Dear Mr. President
George Bush Don't Like Black People (Remix)

More later. In part two I'll want to bring in discussions of some of the real live candidates for the position of Black president: Barack Hussein Obama, Shirley Chisolm, Eldridge Cleaver, Lenora Fulani, Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, et alia.


Julaybib said...

The Deep Impact send up was brilliant.


Chris T. said...

I look forward to part two. Our household is already pretty firmly in Obama's camp if he runs. I only learned of Shirley Chisholm when she died, but her story is certainly an incredible one.

sondjata said...

No vote for Obama since he couldn't get the backbone to condemn the police killings in NYC while he was there.

No vote for Obama since he thinks that Iranians don't have the proper culture to have a Nuclear Weapon and thinks it's OK to nuke 'em.

Don't be one of those "he's black so I'll vote for him" people. Make him run on the issues.

Abdul-Halim V. said...

sondjata: I agree that it isn't just about skin color but now you've got me curious. who do you plan on voting for if not obama? Is sharpton running again this time around?

sondjata said... doesn't follow my blog as closely as I thought. ;-)

Anyway. I don't participate in electoral proceedures for a variety of reasons, all spelled out in early posts on my blog and way to detailed to repeat here.

That said, it is my opinion that even though it was clear that Sharpton would not only NOT win a presidential race, but also would NOT win the democratic nomination, I thought that black political interestes in terms of local, domestic issues, would have been served by blacks voting for Sharpton in the primary in which he ran. The purpose of primaries is for various states and constituencies to put thier agendas forward by turning out for candidates that speak to those issues, thereby bringing such issues to the national stage. Blacks by and large threw their vote away (to Kerry) out of some desparate "anyone who could beat Bush" plot. Thus the black electorate signaled that they were willing to have thier issues sidelined for a party politics. It was a sad sad sad move.

This brings me to Obama. I'm not taken by a college degree or two and a grin. I also don't play the 'any black will do" politic either. I would sooner vote, if I did, for an Chinese woman for president who spoke to the issues and didn't pander to white audiences to win votes. That is exacty what Obama has done, which I'm sure works for him and what HE want's to do. However, no person should be voted head of state due to thier gender or race or becaus they "speak well" claiming that it is OK to Nuke Iran is not acceptible from Bush so why should it be acceptible from Obama? Any black person opposed to the former but accepts the latter is a hypocrite. If Mayor Bloomberg of NYC, who, mind you swept into offfice with HIGH black turn out for him, can say that he thinks 50 shots is excessive, then why can't Obama say so? The ONLY reason he can do so is to not alienate those white organizations (PBA, etc) that are largely ambivalent about the shooting. His lack of commentary is clear.

Anyway, I think you ought to check out the archives of www.blackagendareport somewhat associated with where they have more specific issues with Obama.

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