Veteran journalist Carl Hoffman believes he’s solved one of the great mysteries of the 20th century. In 1961 at the age of 23, Michael Rockefeller – son of New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller and a member of one of the richest and most powerful families in America ¬– travelled to remote New Guinea in search of primitive art for his father’s new museum.
How Long Will The New “Black Cool” Last?
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I am usually not very adept at trend spotting, but over the past few months, I have witnessed a new media craze. It was declared through many magazine cover stories but I did not catch on until now. What is this new trend? The emergence of the cool Black family man.
Although being a cool black man sort of came in vogue with Denzel Washington and Will Smith, they are the personification of a Hollywood dream. The new coolness goes beyond listening to the latest hip-hop song or dressing a certain way. All of a sudden, it is cool to be a serious Black family man.
The coolest of the cool, President Obama, has a great deal to do with the ascent of this trend. During his campaign, he showed the world that being a black man goes beyond the images we see of movie, rap and sports stars. Even within the black community, we were fascinated and puzzled by this guy bi-racial, funny name, raised in Hawaii, lived in Indonesia and he surfs too? What kind of brother is he?
And since Election Day, he has become a marketing bonanza for American business generating books, bobble heads, commemorative coins and newspaper editions. I even heard that Larry King’s four-year old son thinks Obama is so cool that he now wants to be black.
All this media frenzy is great, but I wonder where all this hype will lead? I know everyone is holding up the President as an example of what any child black or white, can do if they study and work hard. But while our president’s influence is very positive, he will also challenge us to learn more about each other by looking beyond the stereotypes.
In this same media, there are still stories of un-cool black men–in prison or caught up in the cycle of violence and drug abuse.
But now we see more stories on the achievements of black men beyond the usual Black History month chronicles. We see more of the new cool black man–as the medical, science or business expert on talk shows. And we see stories about black family men struggling, along with their white and Latino counterparts, to take care of their loved ones during these rough times.
In spite of the doom and gloom we are all feeling-we are all struggling together as Americans trying to make sense of the present in order to build a better future for ourselves and our children.
Call me crazy, but that is a sign of progress to me. Regardless of what the media thinks, coolness is not a black or white thing. Coolness wrapped our unique American spirit, will help all of us weather the rocky road ahead. We can all get what the kids call “cool points” just for working hard to stay in the game.