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BLACK PEOPLE ARE NOW “THE MAN”

Now that Obama is officially in office, I'm faced with the sobering thought that, as a black man, I'm no longer the underdog, struggling to overcome a racist power structure in which someone who looks like me can never hope to become somebody. Thanks for raising the bar, Barack, you ass; now I have to, like, achieve something. Before, when I sat in my cubicle at work with my legs propped up, licking Cheeto stains off my fingers for hours on end (so stubborn!), I had the safety net of institutionalized racism holding a brotha down. When my old lady would ask why I didn't get that promotion, I'd just say, "You know how it is." (Nod accordingly.) Then my son J.J. would say something was "dy-no-mite," and we'd all have a big laugh as we sat down to a fried Spam dinner. But that's all shot to hell now. There was a lot less pressure when people assumed that all I could do was dance, rap and play basketball. If I did more, then good for me; I'm a credit to my race. If I did less, then, well, you know how it is. (Nod accordingly. Mumble something about cracker-ass crackers.) Now, people look at me like I'm a shiftless Negro if I don't organize a protest against the price hike on jalapeño poppers in the cafeteria.

Also, they're disappointed to learn that my oratory skills are restricted to morally awkward quotes from New Jack City. (It seems that "Cancel that bitch!" is not an appropriate response to "How's your wife?") Face it, everyone likes to feel a little oppressed now and then. There's a coolness about being the embittered, persecuted rebel. That's why they make t-shirts of Malcolm X and Che Guevara and not Al Roker or Charo. Now, though, the prevailing opinion is that I'm no longer oppressed, that I'm part of some privileged class with expectations of not only upward mobility, but upward supremacy. Finally I realize how hard white people have had it all these years. Maybe if I get a perm and change my name, I can pass for Iranian. Then I'd reclaim the hatred my forefathers worked so long to cultivate.

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Mark Harris, Zero, POLITICALLY ERECT

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