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December 19, 2008


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Just wanted to drop you a line to tell you that this blog has been wonderful reading for me over the last few days and I love your sense of humor and your wit. I've never thought of FDR and Obama in conjunction like this and it was terrific reading Thanks for writing!


Nice post. Again. I'd offer a more substantive comment, but my commenting style runs the full gamut: from flip to glib. I'll try to get the lay of the land before inflicting my irreverence on you.


It's an interesting point you make by taking the parallels of their presidencies beyond the economic quagmire; as a side note, I keep wondering for how long we will continue to read about "the worst X since the Great Depression" before we can admit to ourselves that things may, in fact, be worse.

I'd ask, though, what you think about the FDR v. Obama impact on our social understanding of masculinity? One of the things that I've found striking about the impact of this election is the way that all kinds of brothas have seemingly come out of the woodwork, willing to express emotion (it wasn't JUST the Rev. Jackson who was sobbing like a baby that Tuesday). And while I cannot say anything particularly novel about his relationship with Michelle, as a single Black woman, I can say that having their relationship in the spotlight has significantly changed the ways in which single Black folks approach dating and relationships. I wonder if FDR's presidency did much/anything for the correlation of masculinity with able-bodidness?

Getting back to what Obama means, though, we would obviously be foolish to believe the hype about a "post-racial" age. Not only is white supremacy alive and well, as the statistics you sited ably demonstrate (not to mention incarceration rates, child poverty rates, infant mortality rates, educational funding and outcome differences, etc.), but, as ever since post-1964, the difficulties in calling it out as such make dealing with it that much more difficult. What I find intriguing, however, is how many white folks seem to miss the point that desiring the end of white supremacy/racial discrimination and the end of race is not the same thing, you know?

Oneita Jackson

Hello, Jelani and ari and M.

M.: Interesting questions you raise about masculinity and about the effect the Obama's marriage has on dating. I am curious to hear Jelani's response. Jelani?

jelani c.

At the risk of self-promotion, I actually talked a little bit about this masculinity question in a piece I did for Essence. It's called "Brother President" and it is in the Obama issue on newsstands now.

The basic point was that Obama's balancing act between being an intellectual, a leader, a visionary and a down brother who can hit a reverse lay-up has publicly challenged that idea that we have to be one or the other. And the fact that he visibly loves and admires his wife and is a doting father only further states the case.

And if you wanted to see brothers showing emotion you needed look no further than the democratic convention --LOTS of black men were up in there crying openly and en masse. Aside from the Million Man March I don't think I had seen anything quite like it.

I've heard more brothers than I can count make some version of the "I'm looking for a Michelle" statement in recent months and I think that is a good thing because you certainly do not attract a woman like that without having your own game straight.

But I think these will be those intangibles of history, something we can't exactly measure but we know they've had an impact on us as a whole.


Thank you for the reference. It seems to me that once you start blogging, you're already far enough down the slippery slope of self-promotion that probably quibbling about it is beside the point...

I have also definitely noticed what you've noticed in terms of brothas saying they are looking for a Michelle. In fact, a completely non-scientific anecdotal survey of personals ads shows that a reference to the Obamas is shorthand for all of the qualities you mentioned, but without the grimy residue of the "I'm not a typical Black man" claims.


I must echo an earlier poster: GREAT blogging Mr. Cobb. As a student of history I am really appreciating this content. Keep it up and I'll keep reading.


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Thanks for one's marvelous posting! I actually enjoyed reading it, you're a great author.I will always bookmark your blog and definitely will come back down the road.

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