Saturday, September 3, 2011

Obama's Black Aesthetic

In a review of Randall Kennedy's book The Persistence of the Color Line, Brent Staple opens with a discussion of the president's black aesthetic:
The next time you see Barack Obama gliding into a White House press conference, take note of that jazzy walk. It is a dead ringer for the strut that was the bearing of choice among ­inner-city cool guys in the 1960s, when Barry Obama was still a tyke growing up in the exotic precincts of Hawaii and Indonesia. The Obama glide represents his embrace of a black aesthetic that was not his by circumstance of birth. It speaks on an intimate frequency to African-­American men, who have been smiling in recognition and rating it for style ever since he stepped into the national spotlight. President Obama is acutely aware of how to deploy the physical self to excellent effect. If we looked back closely at 2008, we would no doubt notice him amping up the glide for black audiences and dialing it back elsewhere.

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