No matter how much we enlightened black folks try to argue that “Blackness” is expansive and cannot be narrowly defined there are still a couple of folks out there that get the racial authenticity side eye. Not “Enemies of the State” side eye like Allen West or Wesley Snipes after he dissed black women, but more like as a friend of mine suggested “Maybe they have a little too much Carlton Banks in them.” Folks like Bryant Gumble, Nick Cannon and Wayne Brady, they’re respected and all by the black community but they are LOVED by white folks. Which to many in the black community makes them a little suspect. But in his recent smack down of Bill Maher, of all these Negroes of Questionable blackness Wayne Brady has distinguished himself in a way that is both surprising and poignant.
Last week Bill Maher went on another one of his racist liberal rants chastising Obama for not being “black enough” (as he is want to do: see here,here and here.). One of Maher’s favorite routines is to not just complain (like a lot of liberals) that Obama isn’t tough enough but to come out and say “When I voted for a black president I wanted a BLACK president” yuk yuk yuk. And Maher proceeds to complain about how Obama isn’t black enough and that’s why he won’t knock down the door wavin’ the .44 till Boehner says Obama don’t hit me no more. This last time around Maher complained that Obama was too much like Wayne Brady, y’know, one of those soft negroes. But Brady stuck back.
While being interviewed in Aisha Tyler’s Podcast “Girl on Guy” the Grammy and Emmy award winning actor, singer and all around modern day Sammy Davis Jr. went off. You can hear Wayne Brady’s full comments here but he starts off pointing out Maher’s inherent arrogance in lecturing black people.
Second there is Bill Maher’s base complaint ie, that Barack Obama is not nearly forceful enough and determined enough in the face of Republican opposition. This is standard fare for most liberals and supporters of the president, of any color. But Maher, who along with Quentin Tarantino is a finalist for the “Just because you screw black women/like black movies/ listen to black music doesn’t make you an authority on blackness” award and wears it proudly every time he opens his mouth. He chastises Obama in explicitly racial terms.
It’s a cute shtick from Dave Chappelle or D.L. Hughly because they know inherently that the mask a black man must wear to even achieve what Obama already has precludes that kind of ‘aggressive black’ behavior. However Bill Maher really believes what he is saying. He is angry at Obama for not being the fantasy negro that he and many other racist liberal whites wanted him to be. Obama with his cool demeanor and penchant for cooperation is not the charging black bull there to entertain and titillate the hidden homo-erotic fantasies of angry white liberal ‘straight’ men like Bill Maher. Maher’s exclusive taste for ‘fallen’ black women, prostitutes, emotionally damaged and used women like Karrine Steffans and the like, mixed with his almost pathological desire to tell black men in power how to act represents the most consistent naked racism of the white liberal elite. You blacks are here to entertain me, and when you don’t dance the way I’d like I will constrain the notions of blackness until you do what I say. If Rush Limbaugh said the kinds of things that Maher says about Obama he’d be pilloried by the press every week.
The last point is that it is good to see that at this point in popular culture that no matter what a performer does and who their audience is, they have the right to defend their racial integrity and authenticity. The reason Bill Maher’s joke ‘worked’ is because everyone knows that Wayne Brady is a little corny, that he sings show tunes and that from “Who’s Line is it Anyway” to “Let’s Make a Deal” his audience has been white housewives and older folks. It was Paul Mooney who once joke that “White people like Wayne Brady because he makes Bryant Gumble look like Malcolm X.” Yes,Wayne Brady’s sketch on the Chappelle Show gave him some great credibility in the urban community, and his “Funny or Die” segments, performing Every Little Step with Mike Tyson and a Revolutionary War rendition of Ice Cube’s “Today was a Good Day” (as Crispus Attucks no less!) showed that he has more range than your average talk show host. However, no one questions Brady’s right as a black man to stand up for himself and that in and of itself is good thing in the pop culture narrative.
As Wayne Brady was quick to point out, Bill Maher has a television show and thus has a forum to continue this battle long after Brady is back hosting awards shows and performing live in Vegas. But it really doesn’t matter at this point, Brady has put Maher down like Nas did Jay-Z. No matter how familiar you may think you are with black people, no one has the right or authority to say who is and is not ‘black enough’- even if you did give a million dollars to an Obama SuperPac.
This article originally appeared online at Politic365.com.