When Cory Booker recently raced into a burning home to help save the life of a neighbor, his act of bravery turned the Newark, N.J., mayor into one of the lead stories of the day. News outlets from CNN to Fox News covered Booker’s heroism.
Not to be outdone, fans on Twitter conjured up #corybookerstories to reveal even more amazing feats from the mayor. Overnight, Booker’s courage transformed him from a widely admired mayor into something of a superhero.
While the feel-good stories and tweets were certainly uplifting, it is important to consider the long-term implications of the coverage of this episode. Black elected officials like Booker face a “hero paradox” when they are perceived as living legends.
As part of my research for a new book, The New Black Politician: Cory Booker, Newark, and Post-Racial America, I found that a new generation of black leaders regularly find themselves lionized,