Black Folks We’d Like To Remove From Black History

As happy as we are for the nation to get its yearly reminder that black people do exist in the context of American history, there’s a growing list of characters that has us harking back to Zora Neale Hurston’s famous words: “All my skinfolk ain’t kinfolk.” Indeed, while we love our own, we sure do dream of erasing a few of them from the history books. Some are politicos, others are pop culture figures, but they all share one common attribute: They’re embarrassing.

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  • Marion Barry

    Marion Barry

    In terms of his political career, it may be accurate to say that former D.C. mayor and current City Councilman Marion Barry has nine lives. Still, when your most famous words are, “Bitch set me up” in reference to being caught smoking crack in a hotel room with a woman who’s not your wife, your name will always be synonymous with the phrase “epic fail.”

    CAPTIONS BY MICHAEL ARCENEAUX

  • Michael Steele

    Michael Steele

    Michael Steele will go down in history as the first black chairman of the Republican National Committee. We’re sure that, at first, the 12 blacks who still claimed to be Republicans post-Bush were full of glee about his election. Unfortunately, Steele has since morphed into the Bozo of politics. Too bad for him and the GOP that the only people laughing are the ones on the other side of the political aisle.

  • O.J. Simpson

    O.J. Simpson

    You spend a fortune to beat a murder charge, but end up serving time for stealing your own stuff? America, meet your dumbest criminal. Black history, keep “If the glove doesn’t fit, you must acquit” in honor of the brilliance of the late Johnnie Cochran. Forget everything else.

  • Sheila Dixon

    Sheila Dixon

    The disgraced Baltimore mayor was supposed help convince the nation that Baltimore wasn’t really like The Wire. Yet, by losing her job over boosting holiday gift cards intended for charity, Dixon helped move more copies of the famed HBO series.

  • Dennis Rodman

    Dennis Rodman

    From the cross-dressing to the head-butting to the recent butt-slapping of bar waitresses, it’s pretty obvious Dennis loves attention. In fact, he may have inspired the talent-deficient star chasers of today like Tila Tequila. For that, we’ll never forgive him and eventually hope to forget everything about him not related to the Chicago Bulls.

  • D.C. Sniper John Allen Muhammad

    D.C. Sniper John Allen Muhammad

    No matter what silly charge society yelled at us, blacks could always say, “Well at least we’re not crazy enough to be serial killers.” Then came John Allen Muhammad, who terrorized Washington, D.C., in the summer of 2002 as the “Beltway Sniper.” We sure love our pioneers, but not the ones in the looney bin category.

  • Dr. Conrad Murray

    Dr. Conrad Murray

    Five words: He killed Michael Jackson (allegedly). Four more: Whip him, Papa Joe.

  • Alan Keyes

    Alan Keyes

    When he allowed himself to be a pawn of the GOP and moved to Illinois for the sake of challenging another black politician (then-Senate hopeful Barack Obama), Keyes helped further tarnish the image of black Republicans. And over the course of a lengthy and very bizarre political career, he’s never managed to make a lick of sense. It’s about time black people treated him the way his Republican brethren usually do: Pretend that he doesn’t exist.

  • R. Kelly

    R. Kelly

    We don’t see nothing wrong with a little bump ‘n grind as long as it doesn’t result in a felony. Though he may have fought off jail time, R. Kelly still married a minor, still creeps the hell out of many for his pied-piper obsession, and while he says that the guy on the tape wasn’t him, we think it’s best he stock up on cranberry juice for [alleged] urinary tract dysfunction.

  • Flavor Flav

    Flavor Flav

    You’d think a man famous for wearing a big clock around his neck would have a better grasp of what time it really is. A few of us did cave and watch his dating reality series. But no worries: Our guilt lingers. As a member of the pioneering hip-hop group Public Enemy, Flav should be known for It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back. Instead he’ll be remembered for proving it takes only a few dozen to make us all look crazy.

  • US Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas poses during a group photo September 29, 2009 in the East Conference Room of the Supreme Court in Washington, DC.
    US Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas poses during a group photo September 29, 2009 in the East Conference Room of the Supreme Court in Washington, DC. MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images

    Clarence Thomas

    Although he’s only the second man of color to serve in the Supreme Court, the Backstreet Boys have more standing in the black community than Clarence Thomas. That’s because he looks to the Constitution as “colorblind,” says he’s a man who just happens to be black and opposes government programs intended to help minorities. I’m not sure if the late Thurgood Marshall would want to pop Clarence ‘side his head with his gavel, but there are plenty of blacks who would volunteer to do it for him.

  • Omarosa Manigault-Stallworth

    Omarosa Manigault-Stallworth

    Everyone loves a villain, especially if said villain perpetuates the bitchy-black-female stereotype so many of our paler brethren are accustomed to seeing on their TV screens. We don’t knock the hustle, Omarosa, but it surely does make us squirm sometimes.

  • Bishop Don Magic Juan

    Bishop Don Magic Juan

    Bishop Don Magic Juan is to the clergy what a pork-chop sandwich is to a vegan diet. This ex-pimp (maybe) turned publicity hound has been all over the media spreading his gospel. If that’s not a good enough excuse to pray that God removes him from Wikipedia, we don’t know what is.

  • Wesley Snipes

    Wesley Snipes

    Yes, we know that the urban legend of Snipes declaring that he hated black women was false. But in his now infamous Entertainment Weekly interview from 1997, the formerly beloved actor sure didn’t sound all that fond of black women. And while Snipes has the right to speak freely and date who he pleases, we reserve the right to give the cold shoulder to anyone who talks too slick and fails to pay his taxes.

  • Soulja Boy Tell 'Em

    Soulja Boy Tell 'Em

    Soulja Boy may sound like a hooked-on-phonics failure, but the kid sure was savvy enough to use MySpace and beats made from his personal computer to turn himself into a millionaire. While his success story may be admirable, his lyrical content isn’t. “Yahh, trick, yahh?” No, no and no.

  • Karrine Steffans

    Karrine Steffans

    Karrine Steffans likes to fancy herself as a literary great. The trouble is that her life story can be best summed up as “slurping for success.” If playing sexual toy to wealthy men tickles your fancy, so be it. But please stop pretending you’re Mother Teresa and a heroine to black women because you used tawdry gossip to become a New York Times best-selling author.

  • Idi Amin

    Idi Amin

    Idi Amin was one of the most brutal military dictators in post-independence Africa. Propped up to power by the British, Amin brought nothing but death and economic ruin to Uganda. The death toll from Amin’s regime reached hundreds of thousands. He was famously portrayed by Forest Whitaker’s Oscar-winning performance in The Last King of Scotland. However, many Ugandans would like to pretend he never existed. Who can blame them?

  • Papa Doc

    Papa Doc

    Haiti has a history of crappy leaders, and none more than François Duvalier, known as “Papa Doc.” After winning a sham election (worse than America’s 2000 presidential election) Duvalier declared himself “president for life” and went on to preside over the longest regime in Haiti’s history. He ruined his nation’s economy and put fear in the hearts of Haitians through brutal killings and pretense that he possessed supernatural powers through voodoo.

  • Baby Doc

    Baby Doc

    Like his father, Jean-Claude Duvalier, otherwise known as “Baby Doc,” he led a regime marred by brutality and tyranny. Although he fled to France nearly 25 years ago, old wounds die hard. Following the devastating Haitian earthquake, Baby Doc pledged $8 million of support to his native country. Giving back the money you stole is a start, Junior, but we’d still like to erase your name from the history books.

  • Robert Mugabe

    Robert Mugabe

    The Zimbabwean president has been regarded as one of the worst dictators on Earth and presides over a country where nine in 10 are unemployed. Still, Mugabe unveiled plans recently to hold an overnight gala to celebrate his 86th birthday. How evil do you have to be to want to throw a lavish party so you can drop down and get your eagle on while your country is broke and your people suffer?

  • Rafael Trujillo

    Rafael Trujillo

    His 30-plus-year rule was one of the bloodiest in the 20th century. Trujillo encouraged anti-Haitian, anti-dark-skinned Dominican discrimination and ordered 30,000 Haitians murdered. How do you say, “You were a self-loathing, racist brute and good riddance to you” in Spanish?

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