“Boondocks” creator/cartoonist Aaron McGruder (my imaginary boyfriend since 1999) gave some very frank statements about Obama’s presidency. Namely that he is “cautiously pessimistic” and naturally, some folks did not approve of McGruder’s Debbie Downer act, throwing ice water on their Obama fires.
On the eve of President Barack Obama’s inauguration, McGruder is “cautiously pessimistic” about the presidency.
“I don’t think you’re going to see any dramatic change from Barack Obama,” said McGruder, who wore a “Boondocks” T-shirt over a black long-sleeve shirt and jeans. “I’m hoping he proves me completely wrong.”
McGruder bases his opinions of the U.S. presidency on the 2000 election and how nothing has been done since then to change the election system. “It was a sham then … It’s got to still be a sham,” McGruder said. “I don’t want to rain on anyone’s parade, but it’s what I tend to do.”
But my fake boyfriend didn’t stop there! He pulled out the also unpopular “Barack really isn’t black” meme. You know? Just to piss people off.
On the topic of race and ethnicity, McGruder said that to him, Obama is not black because he is not a descendant of a slave.
“The person who is one of us in the White House is Michelle Obama and her momma,” McGruder said.
Negroes were not pleased. Not pleased at all.
His comments outraged Dionne Robinson, 44, of Richmond.
“I want my $5 back,” she said. “It’s one thing to have an opinion, but he doesn’t have any facts. He needs to go back to college.”
McGruder is an African American Studies major, politically astute and … well, complicated. I’m not personally surprised by his statements. I’ve been stalking following McGruder for years now and this pretty much falls in line with previous statements he has made about black identity, politics and his own disillusionment with the political process when he became highly invested in the 2004 re-election of George W. Bush. McGruder was staunchly anti-Bush. His then daily comic strip, which balanced “edgy” Peanuts-style kids banter with political satire, became almost exclusively his weapon-of-choice to stop Bush.
But Bush was re-elected. McGruder quickly grew disenchanted with just about everything, eventually stopped doing the daily strip and later, moved on to his animated show on Cartoon Network’s “Adult Swim,” based on the original “Boondocks” comic.
As much as I still love McGruder and his immense talent, I kind of hate the animated version of “Boondocks.” Not because it isn’t funny, but because it straddles the border of “satire” and “highly offensive” so hard, that I can’t really watch it without feeling like I’m contributing to the problem somehow. I was also sad when the newspaper strip version of the cartoon shifted from being about two black city kids adjusting to living in a mostly white suburb (which happened to me and my sisters) to Bush all the time. I get that he wanted to do his part, but the quality of the comic suffered greatly when he went all Personal Political Jesus on me.
McGruder has never gotten over 2004. (Or 2000, for that matter.) I remain shocked that he hasn’t pulled a Dave Chappelle/Lauryn Hill on me yet and retreated from society altogether. The animated “Boondocks” shares a lot of similarities with the edginess of “Chappelle’s Show” — a funny enterprise that could easily be misinterpreted as exploitation and ignorance by the uninitiated. And McGruder’s statements mirror that of others who have been skeptical of Obama, suspicious of everything from his ability to achieve real change to his blackness credentials.
I feel that what President Obama will be able to achieve is up for debate. We don’t know what will happen. This is just day two of the damn thing. But the whole “what is black” issue is far more thorny and, dare I say it, incredibly petty. It gives the impression that in the history of America one could “choose” whether or not to be a black American. While Obama was raised by his white mother and grandparents, grew up in Hawaii and had an atypical experience from most black Americans, he still grew up in America treated by others as a black American, being judged as one, and turning to the black community for support, friendship and married within the community. This sort of talk is divisive as it gives the impression one can strip another person of their ethnicity simply because they don’t fit some narrow criteria.
But he isn’t the first person to be of this opinion, of individuals who see Barack Obama as having more of a “first generation immigrant’s” story, rather than the typical, “descendant of slaves” background, believing this made him more palpable to white voters than other black American politicians. I think this is a bit lazy in thought, considering that the racists hate him just as much as they hate me and other black Americans. Plus radio yakker Rush Limbaugh wishes him not well, even if it means the country goes further in the toilet. You know? Just because he’s that petty.
Not to mention the hoards of white supremacists who welcomed his election as a great recruitment tool.
So, I’m fine with the President calling himself black. But my fake boyfriend disagrees. On what line do you fall?