I Heart Obama

Posted in Barack Obama, Books, Forthcoming Media, Monographs, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2016-02-03 03:28Z by Steven

I Heart Obama

University Press of New England
256 pages
5 1/2 x 8 1/2″
Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-61168-536-7
Ebook IBSN: 978-1-61168-967-9

Erin Aubry Kaplan

A personal and cultural exploration of Barack Obama as black president, black icon, and black folk hero

In his nearly two terms as president, Barack Obama has solidified his status as something black people haven’t had for fifty years: a folk hero. The 1960s delivered Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, forever twinned as larger-than-life outsiders and truth tellers who took on racism and died in the process. Obama is different: Not an outsider but president, head of the most powerful state in the world; a centrist Democrat, not the face of a movement. Yet he is every bit a folk hero, doing battle with the beast of a system created to keep people like him on the margins. He is unique among presidents and entirely unique among black people, who never expected to have a president so soon.

In I Heart Obama, journalist Erin Aubry Kaplan offers an unapologetic appreciation of our highest-ranking “First” and what he means to black Americans. In the process, she explores the critiques of those in the black community who charge that he has not done enough, been present enough, been black enough to motivate real change in America. Racial antipathy cloaked as political antipathy has been the major conflict in Obama’s presidency. His impossible task as an individual and as a president is nothing less than this: to reform the entire racist culture of the country he leads. Black people know he can’t do it, but will support his effort anyway, as they have supported the efforts of many others. Obama’s is a noble and singular story we will tell for generations. I Heart Obama looks at the story so far.


  • Introduction
  • Obama the Folk Hero: What He Means to Us
  • Obama Represents
  • Obama Leads
  • Who Is This Guy?
  • Is Obama Bad for Us?
  • Epilogue: I Heart Obama
  • Bibliography
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The Race Whisperer: Barack Obama and the Political Uses of Race

Posted in Barack Obama, Books, Forthcoming Media, Monographs, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2016-01-28 02:21Z by Steven

The Race Whisperer: Barack Obama and the Political Uses of Race

New York University Press
July 2016
224 pages
Cloth ISBN: 9781479853717
Paper ISBN: 9781479819256

Melanye T. Price, Assistant Professor of Africana Studies and Political Science
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey—New Brunswick

Nearly a week after George Zimmerman was found not guilty of killing Trayvon Martin, President Obama walked into the press briefing room and shocked observers by saying that “Trayvon could have been me.” He talked personally and poignantly about his experiences and pointed to intra-racial violence as equally serious and precarious for black boys. He offered no sweeping policy changes or legislative agendas; he saw them as futile. Instead, he suggested that prejudice would be eliminated through collective efforts to help black males and for everyone to reflect on their own prejudices.

Obama’s presidency provides a unique opportunity to engage in a discussion about race and politics. In The Race Whisperer, Melanye Price analyzes the manner in which Barack Obama uses race strategically to engage with and win the loyalty of potential supporters. This book uses examples from Obama’s campaigns and presidency to demonstrate his ability to authentically tap into notions of blackness and whiteness to appeal to particular constituencies. By tailoring his unorthodox personal narrative to emphasize those parts of it that most resonate with a specific racial group, he targets his message effectively to that audience, shoring up electoral and governing support. The book also considers the impact of Obama’s use of race on the ongoing quest for black political empowerment. Unfortunately, racial advocacy for African Americans has been made more difficult because of the intense scrutiny of Obama’s relationship with the black community, Obama’s unwillingness to be more publicly vocal in light of that scrutiny, and the black community’s reluctance to use traditional protest and advocacy methods on a black president. Ultimately, though, The Race Whisperer argues for a more complex reading of race in the age of Obama, breaking new ground in the study of race and politics, public opinion, and political campaigns.


  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction
  • 1. Barack Obama and Black Blame: Authenticity, Audience and Audaciousness
  • 2. Barack Obama, Patton’s Army, and Patriotic Whiteness
  • 3. Barack Obama’s More Perfect Union
  • 4. An Officer and Two Gentlemen: The Great Beer Summit of 2009
  • Conclusion
  • Notes
  • References
  • Index
  • About the Author
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Obama as Text: The Crisis of Double-Consciousness

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United States on 2016-01-26 00:23Z by Steven

Obama as Text: The Crisis of Double-Consciousness

Comparative American Studies
Volume 10, Issue 2/3 (August 2012)
pages 211-225
DOI: 10.1179/1477570012Z.00000000016

Simon Gikandi, Robert Schirmer Professor of English
Princeton University

The argument of this essay is that given the unique circumstances of his life, including his location in multiple spaces of cultural identity, Obama is an indeterminate signifier. To textualize Obama, we must account for how the narrative of his life is structured by need and demand as he tries to comprehend his own location and dislocation in American culture and to give meaning to the gap between the idea of what he is and what others assume him to be. In this regard, Obama is probably the quintessential subject of what W. E. B. Du Bois famously described as ‘double-consciousness’.

Read or purchase the article here.

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Review ‘Democracy in Black’ is a bracing call to action for African Americans

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Book/Video Reviews, Law, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2016-01-25 03:21Z by Steven

Review ‘Democracy in Black’ is a bracing call to action for African Americans

The Los Angeles Times

Kiese Laymon, Professor of English
Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, New York

Eddie S. Glaude Jr., Democracy in Black: How Race Still Enslaves the American Soul (New York: Crown, 2016)

“We laud our democratic virtues to others and represent ourselves to the world as a place of freedom and equality,” Eddie Glaude writes of the U.S. in his unflinching new book, “Democracy in Black,” “all while our way of life makes possible choices that reproduce so much evil, and we don’t see it happening — or worse, we don’t want to know about it.”

Glaude’s “Democracy in Black: How Race Still Enslaves the American Soul” is as narratively unrelenting as it is thematically percussive, calling for black Americans to take dramatic action in our lives, voting booths and on the streets to contend with a “value gap” that has left African Americans behind socially and economically.

On Jan. 13, Barack Obama, the first black president of the United States, delivered a boastful State of the Union rooted in American exceptionalism, the importance of political cooperation and predictably, what we have, will, and can do to our enemies with our big American guns. Eight days earlier, Obama had held a press conference during which he cried over the murders of 30 American children and countless others victims of citizens wielding small American guns.

I watched both political spectacles, knowing that while the violent, often racist American weight on President’s Obama’s back has been so terrifyingly heavy, the violent, exceptional American weight that he and all American presidents must abusively wield is heavier. “Democracy in Black,” one of the most imaginative, daring books of the 21st century, effectively argues that this weight — rooted in American exceptionalism — impedes a national reckoning of how the racial “value gap” in our nation sanctions black Americans terror while providing systemic unearned value to white Americans.

The book asks us to reconsider not simply what presidential tears for systemic violence initiated and condoned by our nation might look like, but what can a revolution fueled by politically active black Americans wholly disinterested in presidential tears, speeches or “post-racial” policy actually accomplish. In this way, the book is not just post-Obama; it is post-presidential…

Read the entire review here.

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Democracy in Black: How Race Still Enslaves the American Soul

Posted in Barack Obama, Books, Law, Media Archive, Monographs, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2016-01-25 02:41Z by Steven

Democracy in Black: How Race Still Enslaves the American Soul

288 Pages
6-1/4 x 9-1/4
Hardcover ISBN: 9780804137416
Ebook ISBN: 9780804137423

Eddie S. Glaude Jr., William S. Tod Professor of Religion and African-American Studies
Princeton University

A powerful polemic on the state of black America that savages the idea of a post-racial society

America’s great promise of equality has always rung hollow in the ears of African Americans. But today the situation has grown even more dire. From the murders of black youth by the police, to the dismantling of the Voting Rights Act, to the disaster visited upon poor and middle-class black families by the Great Recession, it is clear that black America faces an emergency—at the very moment the election of the first black president has prompted many to believe we’ve solved America’s race problem.

Democracy in Black is Eddie S. Glaude Jr.’s impassioned response. Part manifesto, part history, part memoir, it argues that we live in a country founded on a “value gap”—with white lives valued more than others—that still distorts our politics today. Whether discussing why all Americans have racial habits that reinforce inequality, why black politics based on the civil-rights era have reached a dead end, or why only remaking democracy from the ground up can bring real change, Glaude crystallizes the untenable position of black America–and offers thoughts on a better way forward. Forceful in ideas and unsettling in its candor, Democracy In Black is a landmark book on race in America, one that promises to spark wide discussion as we move toward the end of our first black presidency.

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The Black Presidency: Barack Obama and the Politics of Race in America

Posted in Barack Obama, Books, Forthcoming Media, Monographs, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2016-01-22 18:29Z by Steven

The Black Presidency: Barack Obama and the Politics of Race in America

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
368 pages
6 x 1.2 x 9 inches
Hardcover ISBN: 9780544387669
eBook ISBN: 9780544386426
Paperback ISBN: 9780544811805

Michael Eric Dyson, Professor of Sociology
Georgetown University, Washington, D.C.

Michael Eric Dyson explores the powerful, surprising way the politics of race have shaped Barack Obama’s identity and groundbreaking presidency. How has President Obama dealt publicly with race—as the national traumas of Tamir Rice, Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Freddie Gray, and Walter Scott have played out during his tenure? What can we learn from Obama’s major race speeches about his approach to racial conflict and the black criticism it provokes?

Dyson explores whether Obama’s use of his own biracialism as a radiant symbol has been driven by the president’s desire to avoid a painful moral reckoning on race. And he sheds light on identity issues within the black power structure, telling the fascinating story of how Obama has spurned traditional black power brokers, significantly reducing their leverage.

President Obama’s own voice—from an Oval Office interview granted to Dyson for this book—along with those of Eric Holder, Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, Andrew Young, and Maxine Waters, among others, add unique depth to this profound tour of the nation’s first black presidency.

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America Is Not Post-Racial: Xenophobia, Islamophobia, Racism, and the 44th President

Posted in Barack Obama, Books, Media Archive, Monographs, Social Science, United States on 2016-01-21 01:22Z by Steven

America Is Not Post-Racial: Xenophobia, Islamophobia, Racism, and the 44th President

September 2015
170 pages
6.125 x 9.25
Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-4408-4125-5
eBook ISBN: 978-1-4408-4126-2

Algernon Austin, Senior Research Fellow
Center for Global Policy Solutions, Washington, D.C.

This book is the first in-depth examination of the 25 million Americans with the most intense hatred of President Obama—arguably the most Republican-friendly of recent Democratic presidents—and what the mindsets of these “Obama Haters” teach us about race and ethnicity in America today.

Despite the fact that President Obama was raised by a white mother and white grandparents, and has two degrees from Ivy League universities, he has still been subject to intense racial hatred from a large number of Americans. Even after Obama’s presidency, the “Obama Haters”—and their xenophobia, Islamophobia, and racism—will continue to shape American politics.

America is certainly not post-racial, argues author Algernon Austin, PhD, a noted sociologist and author on racial issues who consults on race, politics, and economics in Washington, DC. In this book, he uses the Obama Haters as an appropriate jumping-off point to consider what strategies might begin to reduce racial animosity in the United States—a real concern, considering that demographic trends are likely to exacerbate and escalate race-based hatred in our society.

Austin sets the stage for the discussion by establishing that President Obama is hardly liberal in the eyes of liberal political activists, raising the question of why Obama is so intensely hated by some conservatives. He then compares the views of the Obama Haters—estimated to be some 25 million strong—with conservatives, moderates, and liberals who are not Obama Haters. The author shows how the Obama Haters are distinctly more xenophobic, Islamophobic, and racist than political conservatives who are not Obama Haters, underscoring the fact that the Obama Haters are motivated by more than just conservatism.


  • Offers a critique of Obama from the left on his health insurance reform, judicial and political appointments, civil liberties policies, educational reforms, and strategy for dealing with African American concerns
  • Presents hard data showing that Obama Haters are so extreme in their conservatism and in their anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim, and anti-black attitudes that in comparison, Tea Party supporters appear to be moderate
  • Boldly identifies strategies for dealing with white racial anxiety about a diversifying America
  • Provides empirically derived estimates of the percentage of the American public with strong anti-black, anti-Latino, anti-immigrant, and anti-Muslim attitudes
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Demonizing a President: The “Foreignization” of Barack Obama

Posted in Barack Obama, Books, Media Archive, Monographs, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2016-01-20 22:31Z by Steven

Demonizing a President: The “Foreignization” of Barack Obama

August 2014
253 pages
6.125 x 9.25
Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-4408-3055-6
eBook ISBN: 978-1-4408-3056-3

Martin A. Parlett

This groundbreaking political exposé scrutinizes the motivations behind the unparalleled attacks on President Barack Obama that attempt to undermine his eligibility to lead the country.

The ascendancy of the first African American president was a watershed moment in American history. In response, President Obama’s adversaries have engaged in relentless and systematic mudslinging throughout his campaign and well into his presidency, “othering” him as a foreign and dangerous political figure. Never before has a presidential candidate been so maligned, by so many, in such a variety of ways—and yet won. This provocative study investigates the unrest behind the Obama campaign and election, and the controversial political machine that causes it.

Martin A. Parlett, himself a former campaigner for Barack Obama, examines the role identity politics and racialization play in the anti-Obama movement, shows how foreignization is the latest tool for political dissent, and discusses the ways in which the president has successfully utilized the “outsider” label to his own advantage. The book questions the popular—and often contradictory—notions of Obama as illegitimate, Muslim, Marxist/Communist, socialist, Kenyan, terrorist, and angry African American. Additionally, chapters trace political marginalization and race throughout history from slavery to Reconstruction to the Civil Rights Movement, concluding with the culture of distrust in the American political psyche since the events of September 11, 2001.


  • Analyzes the tactics used by political adversaries to undermine the presidency
  • Considers the mass of literature and filmography which proliferates narratives of the president’s foreignization and offers a counter-position
  • Examines the rhetorical frames and motivations of Obama’s foreignization
  • Provides insight into the motivations surrounding Obama-era conspiracy theories, such as the Birther movement
  • Underlines the post-20th century emergence and maintenance of an increasingly polarized electoral climate
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Ladies and Gentlemen, (Is This) The Next President of the United States(?)

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Interviews, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2016-01-18 18:40Z by Steven

Ladies and Gentlemen, (Is This) The Next President of the United States(?)

Vibe Magazine
September 2007 (Volume 15, Number 9)
pages 172-181

Jeff Chang

Photographed by Terry Richardson on June 20, 2007 in Washington, D.C.

Can the freshman senator from Illinois stick to his ideals and still become the first man to rock Air Force Ones on Air Force One?  We’re entering the most hotly contested election of our lifetime. It s time to decide. Is Barack Obama our man?

On a Tuesday afternoon in May, the lines fora Barack Obama rally are as long as they would be for the rock concerts that are the normal fare here at the Electric Factory, a vast, converted warehouse in North Philadelphia. Even for this mixed city, the crowd is stunningly cosmopolitan. The orderly line includes a coed reading The Bookseller of Kabul, South Asian engineering majors from the New Jersey Institute of Technology, Arab-American law students from the University of Pennsylvania, veteran activists from the National Hip-Hop Political Convention in crisp suits, community organizers in ACORN T-shirts, youngwhitc, black, and Latino parents with kids in strollers, elderly people in wheelchairs, and everywhere, high schoolers —some sporting HOT CHICKS DIG OBAMA buttons, some from North Philly in their school uniforms, others from South Jersey in Abercrombie & Fitch, drawn like the faithful to Mecca.

They have all donated $25 to $50 — star prices for the B-Rock — to be, in Common’s words, ignited. Obama pitches himself as the candidate of change, and many here hope he can turn around a nation polarized by George W. Bush, war, the economy, race, religion, political parties, and even hip hop.

Beverly Washington from the Mount Olivet Tabernacle Baptist Church is wearing her red Sunday power worship suit and gripping her varnished brown cane. Four generations from her congregation have come on buses. The last time she felt this good about politics was two decades ago. “Jesse was real. But now Barack is coming,” she says. “He’s fresh, he’s new, he’s inspiring.”

Carmen Mitchell, 14, got her cousin Anthony Lewis, 17, to ask his mom to write them fake doctor’s notes that morning. They dressed in their summer-bright polos, grabbed their black D&G stunna shades, and skipped classes to catch a train from the boondocks of Conshohocken. Then they hiked two miles from 30th Street Station to be the first in line at their first political rally. They want the wars in Iraq and in their old West Philly neighborhood to end. “He makes us feel like he’s really talking to us,” Carmen says.

Obama arrives backstage, a retinue of Secret Service agents trailing behind. He introduces himself to the employees, looking them in their eyes. On the decks, King Britt cues Aretha Franklin’sThink,” and she wails, “Oh, freedom! Freedom!” Now it really is Obama time. This crowd of 3,000 isn’t the biggest he has seen — there were 12,000 in Oakland, 20,000 in Atlanta and Austin — but as he ascends to the stage, it is deafening. “Spring is here in America,” he says in his soothing baritone. “It’s time for us to renew the spirit of America, and that’s what this campaign is all about.”

When he first ran for state office in 1996, Obama continues, “People would say to me, ‘You seem like a nice guy.’” The crowd laughs. “‘You’ve got a fancy law degree. You could be making a lot of money. You’ve got a beautiful family. You’re a churchgoing man. Why would you want to go into something dirty and nasty like politics?’” Obama talks slowly, as if he’s unsure whether he’s really made up his mind, and when he has an opportunity to go hard, he often gets complicated instead. But while his voice is doing one thing, his body is doing another. He carries his slim 6′ 2″ frame with a hint of streetball swagger. And when he comes to a money line, he holds his position like he’s daring you to charge. His is the opposite of in-your-grill. Obama’s game is finesse.

“We feel as if we can’t make a difference, and so half of us don’t even vote,” Obama says, to swelling cheers. “This nation is founded on a different tradition.” he says, his voice rising, “a very simple idea that we all have mutual obligations toward each other, that we all rise and fall together, that we can value our individualism and our self-reliance, but ultimately we have to lift up this idea that we are connected. And if there are children in Philadelphia right now that are killing each other and shooting each other, and without an education and dropping out, that impacts all of us.

The crowd goes bananas.

When he’s done, he comes offstage to shake hands, followed by the men in headsets. A throng of bodies push toward the barriers. People hold up copies of his 2006 book, The Audacity of Hope (Crown). An elderly black woman fights back tears. Carmen and Anthony reach out to clasp his hand. Aretha sings, “You need me…and I need you.”…

…Obama’s “blackness” has also come into question. “Obama isn’t black,” Salon.com columnist Debra Dickerson wrote. “‘Black,’ in our political and social reality, means those descended from West African slaves.” The debate exposed fears that a discussion about race that expands to include immigrants of color and their descendants might thwart continuing attempts to address the terrible legacies of slavery. And could someone who grew up in Hawai’i and Indonesia really be “black?” Obama’s Southside-for-life wife, Michelle, plays this line for laughs on the campaign trail when she talks about her first impressions of him: “I kind of thought any black guy who was raised in Hawai’i had to be a little off!”

“We as a culture are still confused about race,” Obama says carefully. “There’s this assumption that there’s only one way of being black. That if you are not conforming to a certain pattern of behavior, that somehow you may not be authentic enough. And those of us in African-American culture know that there’s as much diversity in the African-American community as there is in any other community.”

Some took just one look at him to make up their minds. On May 4, CBSNews.com disabled all user comments on its articles about Obama because the Web site was receiving too many racist posts. That same month, he was granted full Secret Service protection, the earliest ever for a presidential candidate who had not previously served — for reasons which reportedly include racist emails sent to his office. Only Jesse Jackson Sr., during his 1984 and 1988 runs, required similar arrangements. “He is both black and black enough for whatever individual or individuals unnerved his handlers enough to seek Secret Service protection,” observed Miami Herald columnist Leonard Pitts Jr.: “That’s a truth that cuts the clutter.”

When asked what he thinks of the “Is he black enough?” discussion, Obama grins. Perhaps it’s that bit of Ali in him. “If you go to my barbershop, the Hyde Park Hair Salon, 53rd Street on the Southside, and you ask my guys in there, people don’t understand the question,” he says. “But it’s something I worked out a long time ago. I know who I am. My friends, my family, my constituency know who I am, and by the time this campaign is all over, America will know who I am.”…

Read the entire article here.

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The Complicated History of Nikki Haley

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2016-01-18 00:22Z by Steven

The Complicated History of Nikki Haley

The New Yorker

Jelani Cobb, Staff Writer; Professor of History
University of Connecticut

Like President Obama, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley—who delivered last night’s Republican response to the State of the Union—has harnessed the rhetoric and symbolism of racial progress.
Credit Photograph Courtesy C-SPAN

Set aside the feuding policy particulars and last night’s pairing of Barack Obama and Nikki Haley, in the State of the Union address and Republican response, becomes a far more compelling exercise. There was a particular symmetry to the speakers: two people of color with multiracial families, both of whom have deployed the rhetoric and symbolism of racial progress at key moments in their careers.

Last summer, Haley, the two-term governor of South Carolina, gained national attention for her decision to remove the Confederate flag from the grounds of the State Capitol, in Columbia, South Carolina. Coming days after the massacre of nine black churchgoers in Charleston, the move marked an audacious if symbolic reckoning with the racial ugliness of the past.

The decision did not obviously fit into Haley’s broader vision for South Carolina, which preceded the events at Emanuel A.M.E. by several years. To a greater extent than any of her gubernatorial peers, Haley has promulgated and benefitted from the idea of a “New South,” which has shaken the grip of dead tradition and can serve as a model for the rest of the country. (It’s worth noting that even the concept of a New South is dated. When the Atlanta newspaper publisher Henry Grady used the term in the post-Reconstruction era, he, too, was hoping to cast off a moribund past and self-defeating tradition. The novelty of the South is that there is now a history of its efforts to move beyond its history.)…

Read the entire article here.

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