Aaron McGruder, Post-Racial Obama Hater?

Adult Swim
Adult Swim

In any household where small children live, the rules of engagement must be spelled out and clarified as early and often as possible. ''You know this is HOUSE business right?'' my husband often says to our elementary-age kids.


As in, don't bring up Mommy's sibling beef in front of company. Nobody needs to know about how much we paid for the new couch. House business.

As a community, black people have house business. When you are a minority group under siege, some secrets are necessary for your own self-preservation. Zora Neale Hurston called it ''feather bed resistance,'' this ability to smile and flap your gums but reveal nothing. (''We let the probe enter, but it never comes out,'' she wrote in Mules and Men. ''It gets smothered under a lot of laughter and pleasantries.'')

No one needs to know that your affection for the N-word depends on the level of melanin in the room! And no one needs hear your doubts about our black shining prince, Barack Obama.

The Boondocks creator Aaron McGruder has no use for ''house business.'' He believes in letting all the cynicism and bitterness hang out, whether it's ''in the family'' or not. In a weird way, he's kind of like a post-racial hater.

So in the premiere episode of season three of The Boondocks, which covers the Freeman family through the ups and downs of the 2008 presidential election, Riley, the suburban wannabe gangster, rejoices because he thinks that getting a black president means he can continue his babythuggery unmolested by police. The rapper Thugnificent leads the crowd in a rousing rendition of ''Dick riding! Dick riding for Obama!''—just one of the truly corny political anthems from fading pop stars trying to hitch their stars to BHO's.

And Huey, the pint-sized revolutionary, doesn't say much throughout the campaign beyond his usual grunts, grimaces and eye rolls. Once Obama is elected, Huey joins forces with the neo-coon Uncle Ruckus in a plot to move to Canada.


That McGruder's alter ego Huey greeted Hope & Change so bitterly wasn't much of a surprise to anyone paying attention to his remarks during the campaign. This critique of the incessant hero worship of Obama is sure to be a theme, and that's why I'm so excited about this season of The Boondocks. Every community needs a high-profile hater. Tavis Smiley might have been able to play this role, if he hadn't overplayed his cards by taking offense on behalf of the whole race, when actually Obama just dissed him.

Of course, my student was absolutely right, Aaron McGruder did use ''nigger'' gratuitously. I found it highly disrespectful to have this white man-child using that word in my face! But the show was on cable television. Chastising my student would have been like me telling him not to point out the dirty drawers hanging out on a clothesline in a backyard for all to see.


What you gonna do?

Part of our evolution as a community means acknowledging the complex and often conflicting emotions that come with this historic milestone of having a black president. If there are 50 million black people, there are 50 million ways to look at Barack Obama. That said, I do wonder why Huey never felt compelled to go into exile when George W. Bush was stinking up the place. So I'm looking forward to hearing exactly why Huey is so angry about Hope & Change.


Still, I'm happy that we are a step closer to eliminating this ''house business'' in the black community. It's a sign that we're taking our seats at the grown-up table.

Natalie Hopkinson is The Root's media and culture critic. Follow her on Twitter.


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Natalie Hopkinson is a Washington, D.C.-based author whose current projects deal with the arts, gender and public life. She is the author of Go-Go Live: The Musical Life and Death of a Chocolate City. Follow her on Twitter