THE BLOG
03/05/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

The Obama Effect, the Super Bowl and the Revenge of the Black Nerd

I'm hoping that we're finally entering into an era that I've been dreaming of my entire life: the rise of the bookish black. The President's election might prove more transformative for black culture than even his most irrepressible admirers could ever dream. Coach Tomlin's thrilling victory yesterday as the youngest head coach to ever win a Super Bowl is yet another missile in the image war against the celebrants of ignorance and thuggery.

The black liberation movement, the radicalized offspring of the Civil Rights movement, was a tremendously important and unavoidable step on the journey from slavery to the presidency. However, after being decimated by FBI informants and some internal egomaniacs, one of its corrosive legacies has been a wholesale black male mistrust and hatred of the mainstream.
For previous generations industrious black parents told their children that since racism is a fact of life, you'll always have to be that much better than your white peers, mediocrity is never an option.

After the crash of the black liberation movement studying hard was for suckers. Good grades meant, "acting white."

The Civil Rights movement promised a slow normalization, equal rights one day in the middle distance. For the black liberation movement that wasn't good enough. "What do we want? [insert demand] When do we want it? Now!" went the chant. And when it all came crashing down, cynicism, nihilism and Reaganism filled the void.

Here's what Coach Tomlin went through as a kid, according to a recent profile in the New York Times:

"For years, Tomlin tried to shield his smarts from view. When the "My Child is an Honor Roll Student" bumper stickers arrived in the mail, Tomlin threw them in the garbage before his mother could put them on the car. It was weird, he thought, when his friends first realized in 11th grade that he had gotten straight A's."

Today there probably isn't a K-12 school in the country without at least a half-dozen Obama posters dotting the hallways.

The first study of the "Obama Effect," has produced a tantalizing result. Nothing saddens me more than the achievement gap between white and black test takers. And the studies that show that black kids do even worse when they self-identify right before taking the test makes me want to crawl into a bottle of Hennessy and drown. But this new study shows that the achievement gap was statistically erased by black test takers after hearing an Obama speech. According to Newsweek:

"Before the convention and in early October, the performance gap was as wide as ever: white students got a median score of 12.1 compared to blacks' 8.8 before the convention; the scores were 12.9 and 8.4, respectively, in early October. But just after Obama's convention speech, and just after election day, "when Obama's stereotype-defying accomplishments garnered national attention," as the researchers put it, there was a remarkable effect. Among students who watched Obama's speech, blacks' and whites' scores were statistically equal (10.3 vs. 12.1) after the acceptance speech and 9.8 vs. 11.1 after election day. The difference is considered statistically insignificant--that is, likely due to chance."

I truly believe that we are all suddenly living in another era. Can you imagine some knucklehead still chiding a black nerd in class for acting white while over his head hangs a picture of the President of the United States?