11/09/2011 12:55 pm ET | Updated Jan 09, 2012

Awkward Black Republican

By the time you read this Herman Cain will no longer be the frontrunner amongst the GOP presidential candidates. I will not be the first person to have said this; and many more reports about Mr. Cain's awkward rise and fall will have manifested in/on any number of media platforms including right here on BlackVoices/Huffington Post. Since Melissa Harris Perry's passing but prophetic suggestion to watch Cain closely (The Nation), I have observed Mr. Cain's candidacy, his debate performances, his media quips (and clips). I have had numerous opportunities to publicly comment on his emergence, his missteps, and his quirky racial maneuverings. His has been a stunningly awkward campaign, one dogged by old-style racial discourses, pitiful pandering to a wanna-be-post-racial conservative right, and a concerted effort on the part of the 'mainstream' media to prove the "vaudeville" character of his public performances and the absence of "infrastructure" in his campaign's organization.

A recent Reuters/Ipsos poll suggests that Cain's support amongst Republican voters is already slipping, trending downward as a result of a series of sexual harassment accusations that occurred during his tenure at the National Restaurant Association. Sexual harassment scandals are unfortunately not uncommon in American politics (or in America for that matter). Even more common is the complete erasure of the discourses of gender and power in these so-called scandals. Although Cain claimed publicly that race does not have much impact on the lives of black folk, he was quick to channel his soul brother, Justice Thomas, and accept the claim that he was the victim of a high-tech lynching. Cain's change of heart here was a clumsy attempt to deflect attention away from what has become the kryptonite in his super unexplainable emergence in American politics. And let's keep it real, his handling of these accusations has been nothing short of awkward.

In fact, although some folks have asked me to comment on and/or write about Cain, I have been reluctant to do so. At first I thought I would write about an analogy between Cain and Obama as a modern day recasting of the oft-misrepresented debates between W.E.B. DuBois and Booker T. Washington. I'm pretty sure that Mr. Cain is no Booker T. Washington -- not even in an awkward analogical sense. I suppose I was not inspired to write about Mr. Cain at all until these recent allegations emerged -- along with a new idea for an analogy. Herman Cain's awkward responses to his current situation got me to thinking about my own infatuation with Issa Rae's brilliant web series The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl.

Like Issa Rae's main character "J", Mr. Cain is awkward. J resorts to spitting original gangsta rap lyrics to work through her life's problems; Mr. Cain sings Negro Spirituals at campaign events. J's love life is clumsy and awkward; Mr. Cain's knowledge of foreign affairs is ugly and ignorant. Like The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl, Mr. Cain's candidacy has been populated by an amazing cast of psychotic characters. The Koch brothers (whom Mr. Cain claims to respect but not know so well) could play the roles of J's "love" interests: Fred and White J. CeCe, J's attractive, inappropriate, and fickle BFF, could only be played by Mitt Romney. Rick Perry, with all of his 'brotherly' love would be perfect as J's unintentionally racist "Boss Lady" and Michele Bachman would be fabulous as J's obnoxious supervisor, Nina. Newt Gingrich is Patti, the germinal character who earnestly shows up to work everyday even though she was fired some time ago. And my personal favorite, (DJ) Darius, always has sensible things to say but he speaks them at such a low volume that no one can hear him; hello Mr. Huntsman. Unfortunately, none of this will make sense to you unless you watch The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl. I recommend that you do and I predict that Rae's web series will long outlast Mr. Cain's awkward prominence in the national spotlight.