Comedian Chris Rock made some interesting comments this week about President Barack Obama. Rock, who is a strong supporter of the president, felt compelled to argue that none of us should be fooled by the relatively passive, less-than-impressive first term of Obama. Instead, Rock says that we should look forward to the fact that having a second term is going to lead President Obama to start doing “gangsta sh*t.”
“There’s a f——— art to the first term because you’re always running for a second term the whole time. It’s like Clinton’s first term. You can’t really do your gangsta sh— until your second term. … Even Bush couldn’t really f—- up the world until his second term. That’s when he put the hammer down,” said Rock.
Rock is the latest in a slew of black comedians and public figures who’ve come out to support the president. Steve Harvey regularly uses his radio show to argue that anyone who doesn’t support President Obama is selling out the race, and Tom Joyner went as far as stating that we should support President Obama solely because he’s black.
Rock’s comments reflect his comedic brilliance, but also display a disturbing habit of millions of other African Americans who tend to make President Obama into the man they hope he is, rather than the man he has proven himself to be. President Obama is not a “gangsta” politician. He is a deliberate, calculated, (somewhat) inexperienced, highly-intelligent, non-confrontational, relatively self-serving man who sometimes gets things done. Most interestingly (and perhaps sadly), he’s probably the best candidate that either of the two major parties has been able to produce in a decade.
President Obama, by working to find common ground with his fellow politicians, is exactly what our dysfunctional government needs. Unfortunately, he’s become the man carrying a peace treaty to the middle of a war zone, and it’s simply not working out very well. Republicans have certainly been “gangsta” with President Obama, but his decision to back down in numerous showdowns with the opposition have left even his most enthusiastic supporters disillusioned.
Rock’s comment reminds us of exactly what happened in 2008, when African Americans tried so hard to read between the lines of the Obama presidency. Barack promised us almost nothing, but we believed he would give us everything. We were like the woman who sleeps with the perpetual playboy over and over again, assuming that he’ll one day change his mind about marriage. President Obama can’t be blamed for the naïve expectations of the African American community, but he can certainly be held accountable for doing nothing to dispel those expectations.
On one hand, should President Obama become the “gangsta” that Rock wants to believe that he is, he would be a perfect fit in the destructive political climate created by his peers in Washington. The only way to respond to a gun fight is to bring a bigger gun, but at the end of the day, everyone ends up getting shot. The inability of our political leaders to work out their differences productively may serve to be the downfall of our great nation.
Chris Rock and others who wish to give President Obama credit for things that he has not yet done would be best served to provide evidence of their assertions. The president has a three-year track record for us to observe, and every intelligent voter should simply check the record to decide what kind of president he is. Most of us know scores of people who want you to believe that they are going to engage in progressive action once their chains have been lifted, but in the end, we usually find that the chains are psychological constraints of their own creation.
President Obama is an amazing man, but he is certainly not anyone’s “gangsta.” Chris Rock is a great man and an amazing comedian, but like Steve Harvey, his political analysis is a bit of a joke. The last thing we need to do is allow public figures to do our thinking for us, for the proof of Obama’s qualifications is in the political pudding. At the end of the day, our trusted public figures and celebrities should just stop playing with our heads. The only thing that’s been “gangsta” about the last three years is the terroristic manner by which self-serving black celebrities have tried to convince us to check our brains at the door. People can make their own decisions about Obama, and we don’t need anyone to tell us how to perceive his presidency.
Dr. Boyce Watkins is the founder of the Your Black World Coalition and national spokesperson for the Ujamaa Deals Initiative, advocating for black consumers to support black-owned businesses. To have Dr. Boyce commentary delivered to your email, please click here.