Anthony Mackie: The Unlikeliest Hotep » VSB

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Anthony Mackie: The Unlikeliest Hotep

I should know better.

I know that movies and television shows are movies and television shows and contain actors who are acting and not being themselves. Again, I know this. I know Joe Morton isn’t really the sociopathic head of a shadowy government agency. I know Kimberly Elise has an emotion other than “depressingly distraught.” And I know that Michael Beach is something other than “aint shit.”

But that doesn’t stop me from making assumptions based on the type of characters people regularly play. There’s nothing you can do to convince me that Taraji P. Henson wouldn’t either be the best or the worst spades partner ever. Or that Nia Long doesn’t smell like a candle store next to a chocolate factory next to a unicorn farm. Or that if I invited Terrence Howard to game night, he’d bring a bucket of wet wipes instead of a regifted bottle of Arbor Mist.

And, based on the characters Anthony Mackie usually plays, I assumed he’d be the type of smart, sharp, worldly, and Black-ass dude I’d invite to our baby shower just so we and the rest of my boys could sneak away to a bar while the rest of the party played Place The Baby On The Mommy. The type of dude who’d make you hate going to some company cookout a little less because you know he’ll be there and you’d at least be able to entertain each other with jokes about shitty potato salad and awkward Wobbling. The type of dude who’d craft a snarky tweet about the need and relevance of #Blacklivesmatter; one so witty and pithy that I’d be slightly jealous I didn’t think of it first.

But I was wrong to make those assumptions. Because, while I can’t say with 100% certainty that Anthony Mackie is a hotep, he does have hotep tendencies. And I do not look forward to attending company cookouts with coworkers with hotep tendencies. Because I will eat the fuck out of some watermelon right in front of a White person. Shit, right in front of every White person. And I prefer to congregate with the type of Black person who’ll eat it right with me, and wash it down with a quart of fried chicken skins.

Anthony Mackie does not seem to be that type of Black person. In fact, he seems to be the antithesis. The type who’d say something like this in response to a question about racial profiling.

“Like my nephew wanted to grow dreadlocks. I’m like fine, I’ll sit you down and I’ll watch The First 48 with you and everybody you see on that show, that’s doing something wrong, they’re black dudes with dreadlocks. So, do you want to be seen as part of the problem or do you want to be an individual?”

And the type who’d publicly endorse a bigoted squirrel monkey’s presidential candidacy, while also claiming that he supports said squirrel monkey because he “worked his way up from nothing“…despite the fact that said squirrel monkey received at least a $50 million inheritance from his father. 

(Mackie has since claimed he was joking about Trump. Which…well, “I don’t believe you, you need…”)

But, that aside, what really makes me verklempt about this isn’t that Mackie has some social and political views that seem to be vastly different than my own. The world would be a much less interesting place if everyone felt the same way I did about everything. I mean, someone has to buy Big Sean albums, right? No, I’m just pissed because I was fooled by the wise and insightful angel he played in The Adjustment Bureau. And the wise and insightful part-time gigolo he played in She Hate Me. And the wise and insightful superhero with no actual superpowers he played in Captain America: The Winter Solider. 

We could have been something, me and the Anthony Mackie I conjured in my head. But now I’ll just stick to my assumptions about Morgan Freeman (who probably makes the world’s best white bread pork chop sandwiches) and Meagan Good (who…well…I’ll just keep that assumption to myself).

Damon Young

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB. He is also a columnist for And he's working on a book of essays to be published by Ecco (HarperCollins). Damon is busy. He lives in Pittsburgh, and he really likes pancakes. Reach him at Or don't. Whatever.

  • Hey, assumptions make the world go round. I wonder what assumption people make of me. But yeah…that a Hotep brother is somehow in mainstream Hollywood is somehow amusing. I like. :)

    • Jennifer

      *sipping tea as The Weeknd plays in the background*

      • Hey, check this out.I can relate to it a lot. It’s been on heavy rotation in my morning commute. :)

        • Jennifer

          I’m confused. This doesn’t annoy me as much as the rest of his music. I’m not suddenly inundated with the smell of hookers and coke when I hear this song. You got me questioning my whole existence, Todd.

          • Epsilonicus

            “I’m not suddenly inundated with the smell of hookers and coke when I hear this song”

            Such a fitting description of him.

  • TRo-4Sho

    assi, assi….ugh. He needs a publicist, like six years ago..the verbal diarrhea the spews from his oral cavity…lawd have mercy. #KillHisVocalCordsDeadWhiteJesus

    • Mary Burrell


  • Jaeda Laurez

    He makes me sad. And he is the least effective Avenger, since all the Winter Soldier AND Ant-man had to do was mess up a wing of his suit.

    • SaneN85

      *puts on nerd hat* If you judge Falcon based purely on Marvel’s Avenger’s Assemble, it’s pretty damn useful.
      *takes off nerd hat*
      eff that ninja.

    • Nick Peters

      He is only in those movies to take L’s in EVERY fight…me and the writers would of had words

    • MilaXX

      he’s the yes man to all the real Avengers. I’ve been side eyeing since that dreadlock comment came out. This just put him firmly in the corner with Raven Symone and Don Lemon.

    • Nick Peters

      He has no powers…

      • DB

        If having no powers makes you ineffective, then Iron Man, Hawkeye, and Black Widow are ineffective as well.

    • tafka

      He doesn’t understand the word “token” therefore he doesn’t realize he is one in many of the movies I’ve seen him in.

      • Wild Cougar

        He understands the word token very well. He’s complying with the requirements of tokens in Hollywood.

  • Winn

    Your assumptions about Morgan are wrong too. Sorry, man.

    • Kema

      Just gonna place Mr Freeman’s baby pic here.

      • Wendy

        I hate you so much f or posting this. Ugh x 200

      • Jennifer

        I literally laughed my butt off — none of that fake stuff. I wasn’t ready.

        • Question

          That hair.

  • cakes_and_pies

    Way-mint. You never saw his a s s holleryness in “Million Dollar Baby” ?

  • Afrodiva

    I’m confused why is he a hotep?

    • heyheyno

      Glad someone else asked lol I don’t know either

    • Bombshell

      I think because he stereotyped people with dreadlocks!

      • Sigma_Since 93

        I get the reasoning; it may be flawed but I get it. The reality is that we do judge books by their covers and locked men, men in Tims, Yankee caps, and hoodies are not given the benefit of the doubt. I would / have told my oldest the same thing. My mom had the same conversation with me about earrings back in the early 90s. When I became old enough to accept the potential negative consequences / pre conceived notions I pierced them.

        • Bombshell

          And I absolutely believe you! I think over time people got fed up of being stereotyped! We all do it though!

        • Bombshell

          And I’m not sure I would give up on him after a couple of comments! I don’t even know the guy personally! Those things don’t define him!

        • It’s two things:

          a. I don’t mind it being stated from a class/elitist angle, as in “You shouldn’t do that, because you’re not trying to be associated with a class of people.” It’s still messed up, but status-chasing is human nature. However, when the basis is simply a reaction or fear of white people, I get irritated, which is why I was so disappointed with Lawrence Otis Graham and he basically saying that he didn’t raise his sons to be proud men of class and dignity for it’s own right, but rather simply to survive in White America.

          b. There is indeed a black aristocracy, or at least a mindset in black America, and there has been for quite some time. I in general, don’t like that particular mindset, but it’s so common around the world, that it’s a vice I’m willing to conclude predates and transcends white influence . But every aristocrat I’ve ever came across was filled with the training and the entitlement that the world as a whole was their oyster. If people want to think or act like that, then they should, but acting or limiting one’s whole perspective of class and status along the lines of merely surviving in White America, and gaining their favor, is disgraceful and demeaning.

          • Sigma_Since 93

            There are two swim lanes in play and they tend to cross over:



            I don’t think there’s a black aristocracy mindset in black America but more of a black road map to corporate success that begins to permeate over into the personal. The elders used to say get in the door and coalesce influence before you begin making changes. Based upon how UBS wanted its female employees to dress,


            I can see why Hampton’s B-School has the no locks policy. The challenge is when can you turn off the corporate and just be a person? I know America wasn’t set up for me. I know my favorite mags do not suggest skin care and hair styles with me in mind; this is why it’s important that I have a strong sense of self and pass this to my boys (something that Otis didn’t do). I want to win the war not be proud of winning a few battles.

            • DBoySlim

              F Hampton for the no dreads policy. If anyone is going to change the perception of black males in corporate America, I would thing an HBCU would take the lead.

              • Sigma_Since 93

                IMO, Hampton’s role is to produce qualified graduates. You can’t tout your students’ successes if you can’t get them to the C suite, let alone the front door, to make the changes in mentality you speak of.

                • DBoySlim

                  I understand that, however, I’m always surprised that business schools are focused on their students getting jobs instead of creating them. If they are focused on job placement, maybe using alumni who own businesses as resources would be beneficial. This could eliminate the desire to promote respectability politics.

                  • Sigma_Since 93

                    I’m sure the school of entrepreneurship, if they have one, would address your concern. The bottom line is you still need to place those students who don’t go that route even when you have HIU alums with sustainable businesses.

                  • Question

                    Except that getting jobs is a pretty safe bet – follow the formula, rinse, wash, repeat.
                    Creating jobs is not.

            • AlwaysCC

              1) that ubs dress code must be hilarious and awfully detailed to take up 40+ pages
              2) the same reasons hampton used/uses (is that policy still in place?) were/are not far off from the reasons why women and minorities didn’t have upper level positions in the corporate world. the whole concept of “professional” dress/appearance has been getting a beating for a while now
              3) given the rise of global business and ecommerce, it seems that some of the more outdated (for lack of a better word) standards for appearance are slowly falling to the wayside

          • Val

            Lawrence Otis Graham is an idiot of the highest order.

    • ChiefbutnotA_Keef

      I thought a hotep was just another name for Afrocentric men, but im guessing i was wrong???

  • Uhh Champ…Mackie is the antithesis of a hotep. A hotep would tell you all about how The White Man™ got y’all calling locks dreadlocks, and then break down the history of dread (after regaling you with the “history” of Willie Lynch and the word picnic).

    In all our various iterations of blackness– namely the VSS, the hotep, the ratchet, and the Tom– Mackie is starting to veer on the latter my friend.

    • Kema

      “You see the white man saw the locs and exclaimed “How dreadful”…”

      • Oluseyi

        Dredd Scott. Lock down. …”

        (I’ll see myself out.)

        • please don’t tell me this is a thing

          • Oluseyi

            LOL, no. I was being facetious—and yet grimly militant.

            • Well you make a very good pretend Hotep…My Brotha™

              • Oluseyi

                Extensive exposure. It’s like a “deep-immersion” masterclass, “False Consciousness: the Hotep Ho Step and Other Stories”

    • MsSula

      Exactly. I think he is the actual antithesis of a Hotep. He is a Don Lemon-Ep. :)

    • Epsilonicus

      “the VSS, the hotep, the ratchet, and the Tom”

      This took me back to the end of a DMX song:

  • Jennifer

    You had me until this: “And the wise and insightful part-time gigolo he played in She Hate Me.”

    I’m surprised anything was gained from viewing that movie. Thus proving that the world is full of people who don’t always agree with you.

    • Val

      Right! That movie was horrible! It’s on my list of top 10 worst films of all-time. It’s a good thing that wasn’t Spike Lee’s first film or it might have been his last.

      • PaddyfotePrincess

        Definitely in the top ten of the worst movies ever. It’s right up there with “Glitter.” I watched that one for free on cable. I called Comcast and asked to be compensated $5.99 for pain and suffering.

        • Mary Burrell

          Right up there with Glitter that is bad.


            LOL. I knew that people would bring up Glitter. I can’t watch that movie for 10 minutes.

          • PaddyfotePrincess

            Downright terrible.

      • Kema

        Haha! I enjoyed the movie. Well at least the concept.

        • Val

          Lol. No way.

    • Sigma_Since 93

      He didn’t play a gigolo, Kerry Washington pimped that azz cause he needed the funds to support his lifestyle!

  • Coco

    This piece is my 1st introduction to this blog; I wasn’t aware it existed before this moment. Aaannnnd now I’m a fan.

  • Watermelondrea

    Maybe I can start a petition to get Hotep back!

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