The Trouble With Transcending Race
Examination at The Root of the perceptions and personas of Oprah and Obama, and how unrealistic stereotypes and expectations--and meeting them and molding yourself to fit them--provide very fragile and shaky foundations for trust.
"...If some white people are rethinking their feelings for Oprah and Obama, it's because those people's unrealistic expectations of the two have been betrayed. Oprah and Obama were idealized blacks. They were supposed to be above reproach, neutral on all matters of race, unencumbered by the tiresome legacy of American race relations, colorblind in their politics. They were not supposed to associate with people like Jeremiah Wright, let alone consider them friends.
They were supposed to reflect blackness in the way that made white people comfortable, a blackness that lacked any hint of anger, resentment, or dare we say it, "bitterness." They were also supposed to pretend their blackness didn't matter. ..."
It's clear that many whites need to believe certain things about celebrity African-Americans in order to take them to heart and to accept them--and it requires them behaving only in certain, carefully delineated and circumscribed ways--but why is that trust and connection always and so easily broken? Bill Cosby provides a good example--his recent "angry" speeches initially got a lot of press (partly because they were blaming blacks for their own inequality), but people didn't want to see Cosby acting that way--it didn't at all fit with common perceptions of him as one of "the good ones". We demand that people fit themselves into the box, and many comply, yet even those contortions aren't enough to really make all trust them, it seems. Like they're always on probation, and many are waiting for a slipup that would show us their "true self"--the Jekyll and Hyde nonsense recently when Wright flared up again showed it too. (there are also other boxes, just as narrow-- for "bad Blacks"--rappers, fiery preachers and politicians, professorial pundits and authors, etc)
One of the ongoing fascinations of this race for me has been watching the push/pull of Obama fitting himself into the boxes and when he's decided he should break out or not--the Wright stuff might have broken the box entirely tho.