At the top of the Saturday Washington Post Style section is the headline "The Hard Core of Cool: Confidence, Grace, And Underneath It All, the Need to Be Recognized." Right next to the headline is a Reuters photo of Sen. Barack Obama, his head tilted up and eyes gazing toward the heavens. It's an essay by Metro section columnist (and former Post reporter) Donna Britt, part of the Post's ongoing "Being A Black Man" series.
Britt theorized that while white, Latino, and Asian men "have been deemed cool, black men remain cool's most imitated, consistent arbiters. I mean, there's cool -- and then there's brothercool. (Italics hers.) Think of Barack Obama's instantaneous ascension to 'coolest man in Congress.'"
The black exceptionalism continued:
"Cool is grace made masculine, the seamless melding of emotional authority with physical poise. It's so innately male that its association with black men -- whose masculinity and sexuality have for centuries inspired fear and fascination -- seems inevitable. The connection is so strong that any honest examination of cool must have black men at its center."
But for people who didn't read this long essay all the way to the end, they received the usual visual cues: Obama equals sizzle.