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


  1. Joel says

    Dr. Samad,

    I read your article and waited eagerly to find one legitimate accusation of contemporary America being racist. But I was let down. How on earth have you even slightly demonstrated that the reason why Obama is disliked is because of racism and the dislike of having a black president, or because of “the great white hope”. How could you blatantly ignore his economic, fiscal, and foreign policies which are at least questionable. And how did you mention Herman Cain’s rise in and respect in the Republican party, and then dismiss it as a begrudging attempt to find the “blackest white person” . ?? Even if you’re too biased to conceive that his rise in politics is a demonstration of lack of racism, how can you construe it to be a demonstration of it ?!

    And to conclude with a general statement of questioning black spokesmen whose apparent main message is that racism still exists, and to attack any possible hinted nuance, grounded or not, of racism. Al Sharpton for eg. I just don’t get it. It’s almost like you make a living from the thing you wish didn’t exist (and I don’t think actually does, at least in any significant way). I understand that, if racism exists to the extent you feel it does, it’s important to underscore it and call it out, but it seems like that’s all you have to talk about..

  2. says

    Contra Samad, Obama hasn’t been very good at all at his craft – unless his secret plan all along has been to emasculate the Democratic agenda. Obama is despised not for being good but for being a wimp.

    The Congressional GOP will be happy to see him reelected, because on the installment plan he’s giving them everything they want – and in the bargain enabling them to blame ‘the Democrats’ for the horrible consequences. The Tea Party and Congressional GOP – in their incredibly irresponsible in-our-face legislative actions and their incredible and hateful falsehoods about Obama – are in effect asking voters to not take them seriously at all.

    The only thing that’s undercutting Obama’s reelection now is the same thing that’s been doing so for quite awhile: his own compulsive rush – whether from foolery, knavery, perversity or wimpery – to the right, to the abandonment of the most basic and common-sense parts of the traditional Democratic agenda. Self-inflicted sacrifices include: a truly adequate Keynesian jobs-creation stimulus, tax justice, workers rights in Wisconsin, wildlife protection, air quality and health protection. The latest ploy is his super-zealous DOJ war against drugs and in particular medical marijuana. He’s punished other presumed and good-willing friends in the past: now it’s time to punish California – which supported him handsomely – for its lucratively taxable (when legalized) MJ crop and its would-be humane approach to medical marijuana.

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