The world wants more black friends and fewer black leaders. What does this mean?
The headline of this one speaks for itself. And the thing that it’s saying really has me down.
Seven years ago, I didn’t want Barack Obama to become President of the United States because I feared that electing a black man as President was too much too soon insofar as the world being influenced by post-racial, hipster-led and “limitless” digital age optimism. I didn’t think black America (and by extrapolation, black people worldwide) were ready to see a black man get a few things done — but due to 400 years of racial conditioning and a Congress torn asunder by special interests — largely spectacularly fail as President.
Sadly, what’s described above has happened. And while bummed about my prediction, another movement regarding great black people has risen.
It’s time to seriously consider the notion that the world would much rather support black people as black friends than black leaders.
In the idea that black people are better for the world as “friends” than leaders, there’s a “bubble boy effect” affecting black people (especially in America) that’s troubling. The bubble surrounding black people’s greatness can grow infinitely large. But in that bubble ultimately never breaking open, black people are ultimately denied the ability to be equal, respected, uninhibited and definitive beacons of excellence in global society.
In black people being seen in this manner, maybe it’s time to think about just what black people can do to affect change as “friends” in “bubbles” dotting and defining the global landscape. If they won’t let us lead, then we as black folk are just going to have to work around that and make things happen. In taking a look at Donald Glover’s rapper alter ego of Childish Gambino and Aubrey Graham’s rap alter ego Drake, two black men who have found a way to excel in this bizarre new age. Maybe through consuming these words, you as a black person or someone thinking about this sad, yet intriguing concept can consider your own answers about how we forget ahead in this peculiar new future.
On March 30, 2011, I wrote the following about Donald Glover:
“Donald Glover as Childish Gambino wins because he’s the best example of the new concept of the ‘black friend’ of a still largely white mainstream. Hipster culture’s blipster ideal has mellowed black standards for mainstream acceptance by a largely white dominated society. The era of black musicians and entertainers maintaining a standard of intellectual militancy and aggressive personality to gain acceptance into popular culture has certainly subsided. You can’t call Glover an ‘Uncle Tom,’ either. That term is antiquated, as this is the first generation where for black males it can typically be stated that we have college degrees and are fully a part of white collar culture. If a black person and an appreciator of Childish Gambino, examine yourself and closely examine your surroundings. In fitting in with the stereotype of the new black America, Childish Gambino is rightly a hero. Fellow black people, he’s better at being us than we are! Aspire to be this man! White people, look at your friends! Childish Gambino is a cooler black friend than all of your black friends combined!”
In 2015, Drake released the video for Cuban cha cha-tinged single “Hotline Bling,” and every notion I ascribed to what Donald Glover had done in America four years ago, suddenly exploded onto a global stage. In 2015, Drake’s co-signed UK grime emcee Skepta, Nigerian Afrobeat artist Wizkid, released a chart-topping Billboard album of B-sides, became the modern face of Apple Music, made Toronto more pop relevant in America than any American city, and probably ten other things that I’ve likely forgotten. In fitting in with the stereotype of the new black world, Drake is rightly a hero. Fellow black people, he’s better at being us than we are! Aspire to be this man! White people, look at your friends! Drake is a cooler black friend than all of your black friends combined!
Here’s the kicker, though. While you’re figuring out how to handle the notion of how to be an excellent black person while being the world’s best black friend, I’m going to take the bold step ahead and take on how to be the world’s best black leader. In the rubble of the Obama administration’s failures, the death of post-racialism, hipsters, the digital age evolving from futuristic curiosity to commonplace modernity, and hell, I’ll say it…the mania surrounding Donald Trump’s angry white junta, something’s shifted. In my mind, there’s a place for black people to a) break the bubble and b) ascend to unequivocal greatness has emerged. I’m still not 100% sure of what the path looks like to getting there, but on the backs of Obama, Drake, Glover, a few others and the support of everyone reading this, I think I have just the boost I need to get over the top.
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