Race and the Obama Phenomenon: The Vision of a More Perfect Multiracial Union

Posted in Anthologies, Barack Obama, Books, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science, United States on 2014-07-25 04:22Z by Steven

Race and the Obama Phenomenon: The Vision of a More Perfect Multiracial Union

University Press of Mississippi
2014-07-17
432 pages
6 X 9 inches
3 B&W photographs
Hardcover ISBN: 9781628460216

Edited by:

G. Reginald Daniel, Professor of Sociology
University of California, Santa Barbara

Hettie V. Williams, Lecturer of African American History
Monmouth University, West Long Branch, New Jersey

Essays that explore how the first black president connects to the past and reimagines national racial and political horizons

The concept of a more perfect union remains a constant theme in the political rhetoric of Barack Obama. From his now historic race speech to his second victory speech delivered on November 7, 2012, that striving is evident. “Tonight, more than two hundred years after a former colony won the right to determine its own destiny, the task of perfecting our union moves forward,” stated the forty-fourth president of the United States upon securing a second term in office after a hard fought political contest. Obama borrows this rhetoric from the founding documents of the United States set forth in the U.S. Constitution and in Abraham Lincoln’s “Gettysburg Address.”

How naive or realistic is Obama’s vision of a more perfect American union that brings together people across racial, class, and political lines? How can this vision of a more inclusive America be realized in a society that remains racist at its core? These essays seek answers to these complicated questions by examining the 2008 and 2012 elections as well as the events of President Obama’s first term. Written by preeminent race scholars from multiple disciplines, the volume brings together competing perspectives on race, gender, and the historic significance of Obama’s election and reelection. The president heralded in his November, 2012, acceptance speech, “The idea that if you’re willing to work hard, it doesn’t matter who you are, or where you come from, or what you look like . . . . whether you’re black or white, Hispanic or Asian or Native American.” These essayists argue the truth of that statement and assess whether America has made any progress toward that vision.

Contributions by Lisa Anderson-Levy, Heidi Ardizzone, Karanja Keita Carroll, Greg Carter, Frank Rudy Cooper, Marhsa J. Tyson Darling, Tessa Ditonto, David Frank, Amy L. Heyse, David A. Hollinger, George Lipsitz, Mark McPhail, Tavia Nyong’o, David Roediger, Paul Spickard, Janet Mendoza Stickman, Paul Street, Ebony Utley, Ronald Waters

Contents

  • Preface / Hettie V. Williams and G. Reginald Daniel
  • Foreword: Race Will Survive the Obama Phenomenon / David Roediger
  • Introduction: Understanding Obama and Ourselves / George Lipsitz
  • Part I: Race, Obama, and Multiraciality
    • 1. Race and Multiraciality: From Barack Obama to Trayvon Martin / G. Reginald Daniel
    • 2. By Casta, Color Wheel, and Computer Graphics: Visual Representations of Racially Mixed People / Greg Carter
    • 3. Barack Obama: Embracing Multiplicity—Being a Catalyst for Change / Janet Mendoza Stickmon
    • 4. In Pursuit of Self: The Identity of an American President and Cosmopolitanism / Hettie V. Williams
  • Part II: Obama, Blackness, and the “Post-Racial Idea”
    • 5. Barack Hussein Obama, or, the Name of the Father / Tavia Nyong’o
    • 6. The End(s) of Difference? Towards an Understanding of the “Post” in Post-Racial / Lisa Anderson-Levy
    • 7. On the Impossibilities of a Post-Racist America in the Obama Era / Karanja Keita Carroll
    • 8. Obama, the Instability of Color Lines, and the Promise of a Postethnic Future / David A. Hollinger
  • Part III: Race, Gender, and the Obama Phenomenon
    • 9. From Chattel to First Lady: Black Women Moving from the Margins / Marsha J. Tyson Darling
    • 10. The “Outsider” and the Presidency: Mediated Representations of Race and Gender in the 2008 Presidential Primaries / Tessa Ditonto
    • 11. Obama’s “Unisex” Campaign: Critical Race Theory Meets Masculinities Studies / Frank Rudy Cooper
    • 12. “Everything His Father Was Not”: Fatherhood and Father Figures in Barack Obama’s First Term / Heidi Ardizzone
  • Part IV: Race, Politics, and the Obama Phenomenon
    • 13. Barack Obama’s Address to the 2004 Democratic Convention: Trauma, Compromise, Consilience and the (Im)Possibility of Racial Reconciliation / David Frank and Mark Lawrence McPhail
    • 14. Barack Obama and the Politics of Blackness / Ronald W. Walters
    • 15. Barack Obama’s White Appeal and the Perverse Racial Politics of the Post-Civil Rights Era / Paul Street
    • 16. Barack Obama’s (Im)Perfect Union: An Analysis of the Strategic Successes and Failures in His Speech on Race / Ebony Utley and Amy L. Heyse
  • Epilogue: Obama, Race, and the 2012 Presidential Election / Paul Spickard
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Barack Obama’s Address to the 2004 Democratic National Convention: Trauma, Compromise, Consilience, and the (Im)possibility of Racial Reconciliation

Posted in Barack Obama, Communications/Media Studies, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2012-08-17 00:42Z by Steven

Barack Obama’s Address to the 2004 Democratic National Convention: Trauma, Compromise, Consilience, and the (Im)possibility of Racial Reconciliation

Rhetoric & Public Affairs
Volume 8, Number 4, Winter 2005
pages 571-593
DOI: 10.1353/rap.2006.0006

David A. Frank, Professor of Rhetoric
Robert D. Clark Honors College
University of Oregon

Mark Lawrence McPhail, Dean of The College of Arts & Communication
University of Wisconsin, Whitewater

The two authors of this article offer alternative readings of Barack Obama’s July 27, 2004, address to the 2004 Democratic National Convention (DNC) as an experiment in interracial collaborative rhetorical criticism, one in which they “write together separately.” David A. Frank judges Obama’s speech a prophetic effort advancing the cause of racial healing. Mark Lawrence McPhail finds Obama’s speech, particularly when it is compared to Reverend Al Sharpton’s DNC speech of July 28, 2004, an old vision of racelessness. Despite their different readings of Obama’s address, both authors conclude that rhetorical scholars have an important role to play in cultivating a climate of racial reconciliation.

…Using an approach similar to that of Forde-Mazrui, Obama’s speech drew from his multiracial background to craft a speech designed to bridge the divides between and among ethnic groups. He writes in his moving autobiography, Dreams from My Father, “I learned to slip back and forth between my black and white worlds, understanding that each possessed its own language and customs and structures of meaning, convinced that with a bit of translation on my part the two worlds would eventually cohere.” Coherence, Obama writes, is a function of translation and the capacity to move between and among worlds. He was repulsed by whites who used racist language, and could not use the phrase “white folks” as a synonym for bigot as it was undercut by the memories of the love and nonracist impulses of his white mother and grandfather. His speech at the convention reflects, as McPhail notes, an ability to integrate competing visions of reality. Obama did so by using a rhetorical strategy of consiliencey where understanding results through translation, mediation, and an embrace of different languages, values, and traditions. This embrace was intended to inspire a “jumping together” to common principles…

Read the entire article here.

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The Prophetic Voice and the Face of the Other in Barack Obama’s “A More Perfect Union” Address, March 18, 2008

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Philosophy, Politics/Public Policy, Religion, United States on 2012-03-27 16:34Z by Steven

The Prophetic Voice and the Face of the Other in Barack Obama’s “A More Perfect Union” Address, March 18, 2008

Rhetoric & Public Affairs
Volume 12, Number 2, Summer 2009
pp. 167-194
DOI: 10.1353/rap.0.0101

David A. Frank, Professor of Rhetoric
Robert D. Clark Honors College
University of Oregon

Barack Obama’s address of March 18, 2008, sought to quell the controversy sparked by YouTube clips of his pastor, Jeremiah Wright of the Trinity United Church of Christ, condemning values and actions of the United States government. In this address, Obama crosses over the color line with a rhetorical strategy designed to preserve his viability as a presidential candidate and in so doing, delivered a rhetorical masterpiece that advances the cause of racial dialogue and rapprochement. Because of his mixed racial heritage, he could bring perceptions and misperceptions in black and white “hush harbors” into the light of critical reason. The address succeeds, I argue, because Obama sounds the prophetic voice of Africentric theology that merges the Jewish and Christian faith traditions with African American experience, assumes theological consilience (that different religious traditions share a commitment to caring for others), and enacts the rhetorical counterpart to Levinas’s philosophy featuring the “face of the other.”

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