Articulate While Black: Barack Obama, Language, and Race in the U.S.

By H. Samy Alim; Geneva Smitherman | Go to book overview

5
“My President’s Black,
My Lambo’s Blue”
Hip Hop, Race, and
the Culture Wars

I think the potential [is there] for [Hip Hop] to deliver
a message of extraordinary power, that gets people
thinking—you know, the thing about Hip Hop today is
it’s smart. I mean, it’s insightful…the way that they can
communicate a complex message in a very short space is
remarkable.1

—Barack Obama, 2008

This was a chance to go from centuries of invisibility to
the most visible position in the entire world. He could,
through sheer symbolism, regardless of any of his actual
policies, change the lives of millions of black kids who
now saw something different to aspire to…. That’s why
I wanted Barack to win, so…kids could see themselves
differently, could see their futures differently than I did
when I was a kid in Brooklyn and my eyes were focused
on a narrower set of possibilities…. Since he’s been
elected there have been a lot of legitimate criticisms of
Obama. But if he’d lost, it would’ve been an unbelievable
tragedy—to feel so close to transformation and then
to get sucked back in to the same old story and watch
another generation grow up feeling like strangers in
their own country, their culture maligned, their voices
squashed. Instead, even with all the distance yet to go,
for the first time I felt like we were at least moving in
the right direction, away from the shadows.2

—Jay-Z, 2010

Some time before the most historic presidential election in the history of the United States, then-senator Barack Obama was captured on film talking to a crowd of mostly young Black people in his home turf of Chicago.

-130-

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Articulate While Black: Barack Obama, Language, and Race in the U.S.
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Foreword- Orator-in-Chief ix
  • Showin Love xv
  • 1 - "Nah, We Straight" 1
  • 2 - A.W.B. (Articulate While Black) 31
  • 3 - Makin a Way Outta No Way 64
  • 4 - "The Fist Bump Heard ‘Round the World" 94
  • 5 - "My President’s Black, My Lambo’s Blue" 130
  • 6 - Change the Game 167
  • Index 199
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