Paint the White House black: Barack Obama and the meaning of race in America [Haltinner Review]

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Book/Video Reviews, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science, United States on 2014-08-28 19:21Z by Steven

Paint the White House black: Barack Obama and the meaning of race in America [Haltinner Review]

Ethnic and Racial Studies
Volume 37, Issue 10, 2014
Special Issue: Ethnic and Racial Studies Review
pages 1938-1941
DOI: 10.1080/01419870.2013.871314

Kristin Haltinner, Assistant Professor of Sociology and Anthropology
University of Idaho

Paint the White House black: Barack Obama and the meaning of race in America, by Michael P. Jeffries, Stanford, Stanford University Press, 2013, 210 pp., $22.95 (soft cover), ISBN 978-08-047-8096-4

In his song ‘Paint the White House Black’ (1993), after which Jeffries’ book is named, George Clinton raps:

Colors don’t clash, people just do

Color me happy next to you

Aww, just like it should, there goes the Neighborhood

That is what they’d have us believe

Paint the White House black, brown

Paint the White House…

Paint the White House black, brown

Paint the White House, black…

Like Clinton, Jeffries calls on all people to interrogate the ‘metalanguage’ of race (15). In his song, George Clinton highlights the hypocrisy of Bill Clinton’s presidency, expresses the need for race- and class-critical politics and calls for black or brown representation in the White House. In contrast, Jeffries’ book argues that having a president of colour does little to challenge institutional racism or the ‘language’ of race and that Americans must explore how race functions as a dynamic and powerful force in society.

Jeffries’ book begins with the paradox of Obama’s presidency: the question of whether race relations have improved or disintegrated since 2008. Rather than falling into the tempting trap of simply providing resolution to this dichotomy, Jeffries implores readers to investigate the underlying processes that contribute to current racial discourse and the birth of the question itself.

To do this, Jeffries expands previous understandings of race and racial formation by calling on scholars and citizens to explore ‘race in action’ (3), that is, to use the case study of Obama to examine the creation of racial meanings and knowledge. Jeffries builds on the work of Hall and Higginbotham to launch his analysis, arguing first that ‘race operates as a language’ in that it creates and hides deeper implications and significance while concurrently holding distinct, context-dependent meanings (7) and, second, that race defines and produces other socially constructed categories such as class or gender. Jeffries argues that the best way to examine current racial knowledge and its operation is through engaging with theories of intersectionality to ‘search for and highlight all the social forces that give cultural events racial meaning’ (14).

The book consists of four substantive chapters that provide evidence and analysis for Jeffries’ claims. Chapter two engages with intersectionality to examine how current racial knowledge is simultaneously constructed by and produces the concept of nation. Jeffries successfully argues that much of the vitriol targeted at Obama is due to the continued connection between Americanism, whiteness and the ‘politics of inheritance’ (15). Obama struggles with this in his memoir where he describes both wanting to be, like his father, an honourable black man – one who chases the American dream, but also witness to and halted by broader social inequality and black marginalization. Jeffries uses Obama’s experiences to argue for a novel construction of national identity built on a new collective culture that challenges supremacy in all forms and encourages connections between ‘ethnoracial communities’ (45).

Chapter three explores the politics of multiracial identity and the social objectification of multiracial bodies as symbols of a post-racial society. Jeffries uses the experience of multiracial young adults to demonstrate how race operates as a ‘metalanguage’ by either hiding its relation to other social forces or racializing phenomena that may not be racially based. Through these interviews, the malleable nature of race and multiraciality is identified and white supremacy accurately cited as the lynchpin of racism. Multiracial identity is, in turn, presented as one possible weapon in the war to fight racial oppression. Continuing his critique of post-racial ideology, in chapter four Jeffries more deeply discusses the ways in which multiracial people are falsely used as evidence of a post-racial America or ‘the end of black politics’ (16). Through an intersectional analysis, Jeffries demonstrates how class informs and defeats this assumption: recognizing the persistent operation of a ‘black counterpublic’ and the ways in which black political institutions have been undermined (93). He ultimately calls on citizens to demand change to the institutions that create inadequate leadership and host political power, rather than solely critiquing leaders of colour…

Read the entire review here.

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Calling for Calm in Ferguson, Obama Cites Need for Improved Race Relations

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2014-08-19 15:23Z by Steven

Calling for Calm in Ferguson, Obama Cites Need for Improved Race Relations

The New York Times
2014-08-18

Julie Hirschfeld Davis, White House Reporter

WASHINGTON — President Obama called for calm and healing in Ferguson, Mo., on Monday even as he acknowledged the deep racial divisions that continue to plague not only that St. Louis suburb but cities across the United States.

“In too many communities around the country, a gulf of mistrust exists between local residents and law enforcement,” Mr. Obama said at the White House. “In too many communities, too many young men of color are left behind and seen only as objects of fear.”

“We’ve made extraordinary progress” in race relations, he said, “but we have not made enough progress.”

Mr. Obama’s comments were a notable moment for the first African-American president during the most racially fraught crisis of his time in office, set off by the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, by the police. Mr. Obama and his administration are working to restore peace in Ferguson and ensure an evenhanded investigation into the shooting all while responding to anger — in Missouri and elsewhere — among blacks about what they say is systemic discrimination by law enforcement officials…

Read the entire article here.

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Americans Fill Out President Obama’s Census Form: What is His Race?

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Census/Demographics, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2014-08-15 06:02Z by Steven

Americans Fill Out President Obama’s Census Form: What is His Race?

Social Science Quarterly
Published Online: 2014-07-22
DOI: 10.1111/ssqu.12105

Jack Citrin, Heller Professor of Political Science
University of California, Berkeley

Morris Levy, Assistant Professor of Political Science
University of Southern California

Robert P. Van Houweling, Associate Professor of Political Science
University of California, Berkeley

Objective

We use nationally representative survey experiments to assess public opinion about how President Obama should have identified himself racially on the 2010 Census.

Methods

Respondents were randomly assigned to three conditions—a control, a treatment that described the president’s biracial ancestry, and a treatment that combined the biracial ancestry information with a statement that Obama had in fact classified himself as black only. All respondents were then asked how they felt Obama should have filled out his Census form.

Results

A clear majority of Americans in all experimental conditions said that Obama should have identified himself as both black and white.

Conclusion

There appears to be suggesting robust acceptance of official multiracial identification despite the cultural and legal legacy of the “one drop of blood” rule in official U.S. race categorization. A subsequent survey experiment found that a convenience sample of Americans support multiracial identification for mixed-race individuals generally and not only for the president.

Read or purchase the article here.

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Obama has 44 cousins in the Senate. Now can’t we all just get along?

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2014-08-09 21:49Z by Steven

Obama has 44 cousins in the Senate. Now can’t we all just get along?

The Guardian
204-08-07

A J Jacobs

Forget the president’s Tea Party cousin or Washington animosity. My research shows that we’re all part of one big family. A dysfunctional one, but still – come on, cousins!

It’s been a tough week for the Obama family.

On Tuesday night, Barack Obama’s second cousin – a radiologist named Milton Wolf – lost the closer-than-expected Republican primary for US Senate in Kansas. Wolf and Obama share a relatively recent ancestor, a 19th century farm laborer named Thomas McCurry. Barack leaned left, Milton leaned right – he was a Tea Party candidate who believed his second cousin was “destroying America”. But still, they are, officially, kin.

So now Barack Obama is deprived of having a cousin in the US Senate.

Or is he?…

Read the entire article here.

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Theories of Race and Ethnicity: Contemporary Debates and Perspectives

Posted in Anthologies, Anthropology, Barack Obama, Books, Forthcoming Media, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Social Science on 2014-08-07 00:55Z by Steven

Theories of Race and Ethnicity: Contemporary Debates and Perspectives

Cambridge University Press
January 2015
Paperback ISBN: 9780521154260

Edited by:

Karim Murji, Senior Lecturer in Sociology
The Open University, United Kingdom

John Solomos, Professor of Sociology
University of Warwick, United Kingdom

How have research agendas on race and ethnic relations changed over the past two decades and what new developments have emerged? Theories of Race and Ethnicity provides a comprehensive and cutting-edge collection of theoretically grounded and empirically informed essays. It covers a range of key issues in race and ethnicity studies, such as genetics and race, post-race debates, racial eliminativism and the legacy of Barack Obama, and mixed race identities. The contributions are by leading writers on a range of perspectives employed in studying ethnicity and race, including critical race feminism, critical rationalism, psychoanalysis, performativity, whiteness studies and sexuality. Written in an authoritative yet accessible style, this volume is suitable for researchers and advanced students, offering scholars a survey of the state of the art in the literature, and students an overview of the field.

  • A unique set of views on race and ethnicity by writers committed to advancing scholarship
  • Covers some of the latest issues and debates in the field, including genetics, post-race eliminativism and mixed race identities from a range of perspectives
  • Opening and closing editorial chapters provide a route map of shifts in the field of race and ethnicity studies, and return to some recurring debates to demonstrate how the field changes and has continuing and persisting questions in theorising race and ethnicity

Table of Contents

  • 1. Introduction: situating the present Karim Murji and John Solomos
  • Part I. Debates: Introduction to Part I
    • 2. Race and the science of difference in the age of genomics Sandra Soo-Jin Lee
    • 3. Colour-blind egalitarianism as the new racial norm Charles A. Gallagher
    • 4. Getting over the Obama hope hangover: the new racism in ‘post-racial’ America Eduardo Bonilla-Silva (with Victor E. Ray)
    • 5. Does a recognition of mixed race move us toward post-race? Miri Song
    • 6. Acting ‘as’ and acting ‘as if’: two approaches to the politics of race and migration Leah Bassel
    • 7. Can race be eradicated? The post-racial problematic Brett St Louis
  • Part II. Perspectives: Introduction to Part II
    • 8. Superseding race in sociology: the perspective of critical rationalism Michael Banton
    • 9. Critical race feminism Adrien K. Wing
    • 10. Performativity and ‘raced’ bodies Shirley Tate
    • 11. Racism: psychoanalytic and psycho-social approaches Simon Clarke
    • 12. The sociology of whiteness: beyond good and evil white people Matthew W. Hughey
    • 13. (Sexual) whiteness and national identity: race, class and sexuality in colour-blind France Éric Fassin
    • 14. Racial comparisons, relational racisms: some thoughts on method David Theo Goldberg
  • 15. Conclusion: back to the future Karim Murji and John Solomos
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American Race and Charismatic License: Finding Martín de Porres in Obama

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Barack Obama, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Religion on 2014-08-05 14:52Z by Steven

American Race and Charismatic License: Finding Martín de Porres in Obama

Soundings: An Interdisciplinary Journal
Volume 97, Number 3, 2014
pages 376-384
DOI: 10.1353/sij.2014.0018

Chris Garces, Assistant Professor of Anthropology
Cornell University, Ithaca, New York

Problematizing the saintly reputation of seventeenth-century Dominican servant Martín de Porres, this article explores a little-known, late medieval Spanish form of agency, or licencia, with which a mulato colonial monastic could influence his Spanish Creole superiors, perform miracles, and gain a widespread reputation for superhuman piety. I ask: under what specific conditions could licencia have been wielded by nonwhite Christian subjects to manipulate the shifting moral orders of early modern Spanish Creole hegemony? I also explore how the politicization of racialized charisma continues to depend on a logic of licencia. Tracking resonances between the Spanish Creole veneration of a mulato figure in seventeenth-century Peru with the recent election of a “mixed race” president in the United States, this article reads together theology and politics to demonstrate the fraught beauty, or legal “beatification,” of racialized charisma.

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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’sGettysburg 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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Attorney General Holder is right: Racial animus plays role in Obama opposition

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Law, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2014-07-24 06:33Z by Steven

Attorney General Holder is right: Racial animus plays role in Obama opposition

Southern Poverty Law Center
2014-07-16

Morris Dees, Founder, Chief Trial Attorney

Right-wing pundits are jumping all over Attorney General Eric Holder for daring to suggest on Sunday that “racial animus” plays a role in the “level of vehemence” that’s been directed at President Obama. They’re denouncing him for “playing the race card” and “stoking racial divisions.”

Who do they think they’re fooling?…

…And, we’ve seen an explosive growth of radical-right groups, including armed militias, since Obama was elected, and repeated threats that violence is needed to “take our country back” from the “tyranny” of Obama. This is part of a backlash to the growing diversity in our country, as symbolized by the presence of a black man in the White House…

Read the entire article here.

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On My Upcoming Trip to Indian Country

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2014-06-05 15:47Z by Steven

On My Upcoming Trip to Indian Country

Indian Country Today Media Network
2014-06-05

Barack Obama, President of the United States

Six years ago, I made my first trip to Indian country. I visited the Crow Nation in Montana—an experience I’ll never forget. I left with a new Crow name, an adoptive Crow family, and an even stronger commitment to build a future that honors old traditions and welcomes every Native American into the American Dream.

Next week, I’ll return to Indian country, when Michelle and I visit the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in Cannonball, North Dakota. We’re eager to visit this reservation, which holds a special place in American history as the home of Chief Sitting Bull. And while we’re there, I’ll announce the next steps my Administration will take to support jobs, education, and self-determination in Indian country.

As president, I’ve worked closely with tribal leaders, and I’ve benefited greatly from their knowledge and guidance. That’s why I created the White House Council on Native American Affairs—to make sure that kind of partnership is happening across the federal government. And every year, I host the White House Tribal Nations Conference, where leaders from every federally recognized tribe are invited to meet with members of my Administration. Today, honoring the nation-to-nation relationship with Indian country isn’t the exception; it’s the rule. And we have a lot to show for it…

Read the entire article here.

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Beyond the One-Drop Rule: Views of Obama’s Race and Voting Intention in 2008

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science, United States on 2014-05-19 13:55Z by Steven

 

Beyond the One-Drop Rule: Views of Obama’s Race and Voting Intention in 2008

Sociological Science
Volume 1, March 2014 (2014-04-17)
pages 70-80
DOI: 10.15195/v1.a6

Simon Cheng, Associate Professor of Sociology
University of Connecticut

David Weakliem, Professor of Sociology
University of Connecticut

We use data from a national survey of likely voters conducted before the 2008 election to study the association between Obama’s perceived racial identity and voters’ choices. Voters who saw Obama as biracial were substantially more likely to vote for him, suggesting that many Americans regard a biracial identity more favorably than a black identity. The relationship was stronger among Democrats than among Republicans. The potential implications of our findings for the future of race in American politics are discussed.

Read the entire article here.

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