T Nation

Barack: The Magic Negro

Sung to the tune of ‘Puff the Magic Dragon’:


I thought he was only half “Negro”. The other half is actually African from his father.

There are many in the black community that don’t even think of him as culturally black. Part of me (the cynical part) think the only reason people are making such a big deal about him is that they want to be able to pat themselves on the back for supporing a black skinned candidate.

I really hate that word “Negro”, too. My grandfather uses it and exchanges it for “colored” on a whim–it smacks of the south, circa 1900. I have to remind him that black is acceptable too, now. Maybe his nickname could be “Blackmagic”. I think it would be more accurate.

Dammit, I lost the song! Anyway…

"The Magic Negro is a figure of postmodern folk culture, coined by snarky 20th century sociologists, to explain a cultural figure who emerged in the wake of Brown vs. Board of Education. “He has no past, he simply appears one day to help the white protagonist,” reads the description on Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magical_Negro .

He’s there to assuage white “guilt” (i.e., the minimal discomfort they feel) over the role of slavery and racial segregation in American history, while replacing stereotypes of a dangerous, highly sexualized black man with a benign figure for whom interracial sexual congress holds no interest.

And what does the white man get out of the bargain? That’s a question asked by John Guare in “Six Degrees of Separation,” his brilliant retelling of the true saga of David Hampton ? a young, personable gay con man who in the 1980s passed himself off as the son of none other than the real Sidney Poitier. Though he started small, using the ruse to get into Studio 54, Hampton discovered that countless gullible, well-heeled New Yorkers, vulnerable to the Magic Negro myth, were only too eager to believe in his baroque fantasy. (One of the few who wasn’t fooled was Andy Warhol, who was astonished his underlings believed Hampton’s whoppers. Clearly Warhol had no need for the accouterment of interracial “goodwill.”)

— from the link

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He’s a man. Listen to his ideas and see how he comports himself.

I’ll bet he does so in a manner far better than some of the ignorant clods around here, that’s for sure.