Herman Cain: Uncle Ruckus or the Baddest Motherf***er Alive?

Just because Herman Cain is a black Republican, Damon Young writes, it doesn’t mean we know who he is.

A revised version of this post originally appeared on Very Smart Brothas.

There are numerous things I actively do (and don’t do) to avoid potentially and unnecessarily violent confrontation. While others honk at and flip off motorists who’ve cut them off, I smirk, shake my head, and take solace in the fact that my car would probably kick their car’s ass if I wanted it to. I don’t date women with accent marks or hyphens in their names. And, if your nightclub has undergone three name changes in the past two years, you probably won’t find me there.


I go through these lengths because I desperately want to be a 60-year-old black man. And, from what I understand, it’s very difficult to be a 60-year-old black man if you get shot to death before you reach 60, so I try to live in a way that decreases the likelihood of that happening.

Now, 60 isn’t an arbitrary age. It’s critical for me to get to that point because I want to enjoy the same filter-less-ness that my dad currently does.

As anyone who has a 60+ father, uncle, or grandfather in their lives will tell you, 60 seems to be the age when men lose their filters, any sense of self-consciousness, and will say anything they want to about anybody at any time. This un-distilled dialect comes from a wry self-assuredness that only age can provide, and I literally cannot wait for the day when I’ll be able say things like, “Does your mother know that she raised an idiot?” to a city council man’s face and be able to get away with it.


Anyway, this quality makes almost certain that any conversation I have with my dad will be entertaining, so you can imagine what I was expecting to hear while at my parent’s house the other night when I asked for his opinion about Herman Cain.

His answer“Well, I have to say that he hasn’t said or done anything really stupid yet”—stuck with me for two reasons:

A) The bar for politicians is so low that “Well, at least he’s not a complete idiot” is an endorsement. Seriously, can you imagine if other industries had the same low expectations? Would you ever go to Chick-fil-A again if “Well, at least you won’t get Salmonella“ was the best ad campaign they could come up with?

B) My dad, a revolutionary who listens to Gil Scott Heron, occasionally rocks black berets, and still says things like “solid on down,” isn’t turned completely off by Herman Cain.


My mom—a woman whose ability to detect bullshit is equally matched by the joy she exhibits in doing so—soon walked into the room. I asked for her opinion, and she basically said the same thing.

Now, I realize that this could just be some type of mandatory kinship speaking—a mandate from high (or Morgan Freeman perhaps) that when any black person 60 or over is doing anything remotely positive, every other 60+ black person must immediately give them the benefit of the doubt. But, my Black Panther-ass parents’ open-mindedness made me rethink my own thoughts about Cain and why I possess them.

I have to admit, I hadn’t even considered giving dude an honest chance. Part of it has to do with his name. (“Herman” is just a silly fucking name to me. It feels like something someone should name a dog or a sexual position.) But, the main reason why he was thrown in the ignore pile is that for the last 18 months or so, his name always seemed to pop up whenever staunch conservatives had their “I’m not racist. I have black friends, too!” conversations. This isn’t meant to suggest that staunch conservatives are inherent racists, but it’s never a good sign when you’re consistently cited as an anomaly, a (gasp!) token, and I think he’s been too quick to embrace his status as their “proof.”

Also, with the exception of Colin Powell and (maybe) Condi Rice, every prominent black Republican I can think of just seems to be engulfed in a spider web of wackness—a general lameness that has less to do with their beliefs than the sense that they’ve adopted certain stances to either downplay or apologize for their complexion. (Think “Uncle Ruckus” from The Boondocks) Their personalities, not their policies, tend to turn other blacks off, and the tired-but-telling “Well, I might not like his politics, but he’d be cool to have a beer with” cliché’ rarely applies to them.

I have no idea if any of this applies to Herman Cain. He may very well be a bad motherfucker, a complicated man that no one understands but his woman. He might also be the Antichrist. But, that’s my point—and my parent’s point as well. I don’t know, and it’s not fair to him for me to make assumptions just because he’s black and he happens to belong to the 2011 GOP, and it’s not fair to me to be so intellectually apathetic when deciding on a leader. There’s absolutely no chance I’d actually vote for him if pitted against Obama (let’s not get carried away here), but I can at least begin listen to what he has to say.

I mean, he is a 65-year-old black man. That guarantees that he’ll at least be entertaining.

—Photo AP

About Damon Young

Pittsburgh native Damon Young (aka “The Champ”) is the co-founder of VerySmartBrothas.com. Their first book Your Degrees Won’t Keep You Warm At Night: The Very Smart Brothas Guide To Dating, Mating and Fighting Crime is available at Amazon.com


  1. B. Carroll says:

    Herman Cain has made many insensitive, insulting, and ignorant comments in his campaign to date. What makes him an attractive candidate is that people feel that he has the personality to sway democratic voters away from Obama….where most Republican candidates (Ron Paul being the exception) don’t have the charisma to go head to head with Obama.

    Cain is a clown…..but only because he has sold himself out totally to garner votes for the Republican primary. Ron Paul is the only straight shooter in this election – and he has been cast out as a radical and crazy outcast. Honesty never works in politics and it rarely works in any aspect of corporate America.

    I give credit to Cain for making in interesting up to this point. These new allegations aside he has always remained a long shot to supplant Obama in the White House. Derek Fisher would have been a much better candidate in my humble opinion.

  2. I’m not a US citizen, but if I were these two videos would say just about all I need to know about his politics:
    I’m sure he’d be entertaining, in the devil may care/caution to the wind sense, buy I’m hella glad I don’t live in a country where he might end up as President. 😉

    That said, good article. Good to see people keeping an open mind.

  3. I like where this piece is coming from. I gotta say, your dad is either a jaded cynic or a supremely reasoned thinker.

    I can’t shake my bad feelings about him, which I’m pretty sure partly stem from some prejudices regarding his background: dude has a troublesome history with Enron-esque energy speculation from his time on the board of the now-defunct Aquila, Inc. Still, not appreciably slimier than the rest of the field. I guess I’m prepared to accept a certain level of shittiness from national pols.

  4. Mark Ellis says:

    I’m supporting Romney, but I would welcome the inclusion of Mr. Cain as VP or any other high level cabinet position. I had the opportunity to meet Mr. Cain at a gathering of conservatives last summer, and cover the event for a local conservative website. I liked what I saw, and so did the rest of the predominantly white crowd; he won the event straw poll going away.

    Hopefully my piece will further acquaint Mr. Young with this new and exciting national political figure.

  5. Carnegie Mellon - FB says:

    “Very Smart Brotha” has proven that he walks with integrity and has written what others would not write because they are too afraid to stand against any political confrontations. It’s easy to state black or white opinions. But to be openminded or creative in choosing the leader in the general election is different. Very Smart Brotha is stating for all black and white to understand the candidate policies and beliefs before shaping views based on race or history, In particular Herman Cain is just a bunch of crap with the 999 plan. But if we actually listen and read the policies before shutting him out, it would be good in making a healthy decision in the election. Least when a selection is made, it exhibits the knowledge that was researched. So i Agree with very Smart Brotha, give him a chance. However, he seriously can’t compete with Obama.

  6. [News Flash] Herman Cain will not be occupying Wall street…

    Herman Cain is not an Egalitarian.
    He is Not a Marxist, He is not a Moral Relativist. 
    He’s not a Post Modernist nor is he Cultural Marxist and he for dang sure aint no Communist!

    He believes in the Superiority of the Capitalist system and a healthy work ethic.
    He believes in the superiority of all thing upto and including people, cultures, religions, Morals and ideas.
    Herman Cain is a supremacist who isn’t White. 
    He is an abomination to the eyes of the hippy tree huggers and race exploiters…

  7. Adam Apple says:

    Is the author truly the “very smart brotha” he claims to be or a walking contradiction to his own proclamations?
    Intelligent readers will likely choose say latter.

    Then again… How many… Nevermind.

  8. One reason most blacks don’t like him is he doesn’t make excuses and blame everything on racism. He tells blacks to study hard, work hard, take responsilbity for your successes and failure, and don’t always blame whitey when something doesn’t go your way.

    This is why black liberals deride him and suggest he’s “self-hating” as they did last week on the Root. Instead of realizing that this black men has accomplished more than the half-white Obama, (who let’s face it, was voted for by blacks because he is black, and was voted for by white liberals because he is basically a white black man), and has suffered more discrimination no doubt than Obama or guy like Damon, black liberals deride him and try to take away his right to call himself black.

    The reason blacks do so badly when compared to non-blacks is because black people keep making excuses and anyone who questions the cult of the victim in black culture is derided as a racist, or if they’re black, and Uncle Tom. The author here proves the point by referring to him as Uncle Ruckus.

    • The dude, you can’t judge a man till you walk in his shoes. Black people study hard, work hard, but have a system that makes life difficult for them…….What is it with you calling black people lazy. Remember they worked for years, for free in plantation under sun that would, Give white people sun burn. If they are not enjoying success now don’t think it’s because they are lazy. May be the society just takes away all the ladders (opportunity ) for them to grow or feel motivated.


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