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Reaction to Benjamin piece: “Anger, frustration, bewilderment”

This is not a defense. This is, I hope, the beginning of a conversation.

I read Rich Benjamin’s latest piece for Salon where he suggests that Eric Holder is President Obama’s “Inner N-Word,” with the same anger, frustration and bewilderment as many others. In addition to salaciously dropping the N-word, Benjamin didn’t actually take up Obama’s speech or the many statements the president made in a meaningful way. Instead, he focused on the idea that Attorney General Eric Holder is the black man who says the things Obama can’t, Obama’s “repressed Black Id.” He forwarded the idea that Holder was “more black” (and more correctly black) than Obama because Holder always speaks his mind, most recently denouncing, vehemently, “Stand Your Ground” laws.

Worse yet, Benjamin suggested that the more correct or realer mode of blackness comes by way of aggression and anger, perpetuating the pervasive and damaging myth of the angry black man. His piece suggested that nuance is an ineffective strategy when discussing race. He went for the attention-getting gambit. I suspect he dashed off his piece only a short while after Obama spoke (as we often have to; I’ve been there and will be there again and am probably there now. I get it). There was a missed opportunity to more fully address the issue of the complexity of blackness or Obama’s burden of expectations when he addresses race.

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