In Search of “The Great White Hope” (Again)

jack johnson

Jack Johnson and wife.

The Republican Party, in all its iterations, held its breath this week in anticipation that New Jersey Governor, Chris Christie, would enter the race for the 2012 Presidential Election.

Christie, after taking conservatives to the brink of hope, has decided not to run. So, the search continues to try to find somebody, anybody, who can successfully disrupt the re-election of President Barack Obama.

The Republicans want to beat him. They wanna’ beat him bad. The Tea Party wants him to lose worse than they want to save the American people in this depressing economy. If Obama is the cure for America’s sickness, then they don’t want to take the medicine. If the President is the solution to the nation’s problems, then the Tea Party doesn’t want those problems solved. They’ll collapse the country and start over rather than let Obama rebuild it.

It’s become obvious that some of them hate Obama more than they love their country, and they’ve made it clear that they can’t do both. Country singer, Hank “Are You Ready For Some Footbaaalll?” Williams, gave the nation some insight to that mindset on FOX this past weekend when he compared President Obama to Hitler and called the President (and Vice President Biden) “the Enemy.” ESPN pulled Williams’ opening from the Monday Night Football game this week.

We cannot escape that there is a panicked mentality out in the society that wants “a change” that has nothing to do with what’s best for the country. America is looking for hope…the Great White Hope…again.

The “Great White Hope” mentality started 100 years ago when Jack Johnson won the heavyweight championship of the world in 1908 at the height of the post-Plessy “Jim Crow” era. Promoter Jack London put out a worldwide call for a “Great White Hope” to get the title belt back from Johnson, who cavorted with white women and was full of braggadocio at a time when his victories literally fueled race riots. This was the case after Johnson beat retired, previously undefeated heavyweight champion, James Jeffries in the “Fight of the Century.”

Two weeks after Johnson beat Jeffries (and collected $65,000), President Teddy Roosevelt wrote an editorial supporting a national ban on boxing. Johnson, who held the title until 1915, was considered the most notorious black in America for no other reason than that he was great at his craft. Oh, and it didn’t help that he was black. And he was holding what was called the “the White Man’s title.”

He eventually lost to a Kansas “giant” named Jess Willard in a 45-round championship match fought in Havana, Cuba. Willard was 27. Johnson was 37, out of shape, and began to get tired after the 20th round. Johnson was knocked out in the 26th round, and won all the rounds prior to the fight’s surprise. Rumors were that Johnson threw the fight to get Mann Act — “white slavery” — charges dropped so that he could get back into the US. The point is that America never stopped trying to find the “hope” that could beat Jack Johnson until they found one.

anthony samadIt’s been 100 years since black America held a title white America wanted this bad. America, or some elements of America, is desperately looking for a “Great White Hope” that can beat Barack Obama.

It’s almost laughable when you consider some of the people that have been put up. A few were “qualified” but most were not. They were just willing and hopeful…and far from “great.” First it was Sarah Palin, then it was Donald Trump, then it was Michele Bachmann, then it was Rick Perry…most recently, it was Chris Christie. Who will be next now that Christie has taken his name out of the “Hope” race? The last Great White Hope, Rick Perry, is fading fast after he was found camping at his “Niggerhead” ranch he leased. Some people are so desperate to send signals, they send the wrong ones.

Perry must’ve forgotten new racism rule number one – no hate speech. He forgot Republicans don’t use that word anymore, at least not publicly. They use other codified language. Whoever the next Great White Hope is — they’ll have to know how to play the game. Obviously, Christie wasn’t ready to, or didn’t want to.

They will find somebody, though. And not Herman Cain either. They tried that before with Alan Keyes. That’s how we got Obama in the first place. He beat the blackest white person the Republicans could find. Didn’t work. They need a real white person this time. It would help if they really were “great,” but it’s not a prerequisite. They just have to be white, hopeful and willing to take on Obama, while carrying their same ole’, same ole’ message.

Anthony SamadThe only reason Obama is so despised is because he is so good at his craft. Too good, and the Republicans know it. So they have to get him before a second term where he will likely become great at his craft. Oh, and it doesn’t help that he is black…something they never let him or us forget. That’s the reality of unforgivable blackness. There has to be a great white hope out there somewhere to deal with this “black holding the white man’s title” thing, and they intend to find him (or her). They’re also hoping Obama gets tired before the end on the fight November of 2012 and will get knocked out.

Not likely.

In the meantime, the search continues…

Anthony Samad

Published by the LA Progressive on October 13, 2011
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About Anthony Asadullah Samad

Dr. Anthony Asadullah Samad is an author, scholar and the co-founder, Managing Director and host of the Urban Issues Forum. Dr. Samad's most recent book is entitled "Saving The Race: Empowerment Through Wisdom". His national column can be read in newspapers and cyber-sites nationwide. His weekly writings can be read at For more information about Dr. Samad, go to