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“At This Defining Moment”: Barack Obama’s Presidential Candidacy and the New Politics of Race

Preview this item Preview this item. A candid discussion of the confines of the term "post-racial". Or will it provoke a culture war over what it really means to be an American? Or will racism in the 21st century simply become more covert, insidious, and entrenched? From the moment he declared his candidacy in February , the nation was forced to undergo a thorough reexamination of its core beliefs, subconscious fears, and highest ideals concerning the concept of race—and the place of African Americans, in particular.

Thus articles, postings, and commen- tary gathered from the mainstream media and the blogosphere constitute the chief source of primary data used in this book. The arguments developed in the book are based on my analysis of some 1, articles published or posted over an approximately three-year period. I began collecting data in earnest in November , about three months before Obama declared his candidacy. Too Sexist for Hillary?


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I stud- ied the ways that ideas about race circulated through debates about the economy, gender, religion, patriotism, and foreign policy. After identifying key themes found in discussions of the election, I linked these themes to wider discourses about race in American society. One of the unique contributions of this book lies in its intersectional approach. Scholars of intersectionality have argued that in order to under- stand how race works in any given context, we must consider the role of other social variables as well. Race, gender, class, and sexuality do not act independently of one another, but rather interrelate and are experienced simultaneously.

One of the most fascinating aspects of the presiden- tial election was that as race came ever more to the fore, questions of gen- der, religion, class, age, and nation were dragged right into the middle as well. Thus, while two chapters of this book focus primarily on the variable of race, others examine race in relationship to gender and to nation.

'At This Defining Moment' - Enid Lynette Logan - Bok () | Bokus

I begin with the observation that racial dynamics at present are contradictory, com- plicated, and in flux. The cultural and political meaning of race, its significance in shaping the social structure, and its experiential or exis- tential dimensions all remain profoundly unresolved as the United States approaches the end of the twentieth century.

As a result, the society as a whole, and the population as individuals, suffer from confusion and anxi- ety about the issue or complex of issues we call race. The important but partial gains of the civil rights movement. The contradiction, or irony, of formal legal equality and a wide- spread commitment to racial equality in the abstract, contrasted with pro- found, and in many cases deepening, inequality in education, housing, wealth, income, employment, life expectancy, child welfare, and criminal justice.

Mass immigration from Asia, Latin Amer- ica, and Africa following the elimination of national origins quotas in Among liberals however, the conversation about race was primarily a discussion about black and white. The emergence of plural black identities and compli- cated meanings of blackness. Of chief importance is the growing class divide among black Americans, leading to differences in identity, experi- ence, and political ideology. Dominant understandings of blackness today are further challenged by the increasing visibility of multiracial Ameri- cans, and the presence of black immigrants from the Caribbean, Latin America, and Africa.

Crisis in white identity. As a number of scholars have written, the post—civil rights United States is characterized by considerable anxi- ety and insecurity associated with the social construct of whiteness. But what it means to be white is far from clear. Globalization and the construct of nation. The global dimensions of the anxieties of race must be considered as well. They stem first from the demographic and cultural shifts accompanying mass immigration from developing countries, as referenced above.

The second most important factor in the production of racialized anxieties of nation is the threat of global terrorism. Questions that have been asked anew include: Who is an American? Colorblind individualism. The landscape of race is also very much shaped by the predominance of the ideology of colorblind individual- ism. This ideology holds that racial discrimination against non-whites is largely of a thing of the past, that it is better not to speak about racial matters, and that policy initiatives designed to remedy racial inequality are themselves discriminatory and unfair.

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Alternately, this or other 21st-century racial realities could lead to cracks in the hegemony of racial colorblindness. Post-racialism and the new politics of race. That November, Obama was elected to the U.


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Senate in a landslide. On February 10, , in Springfield, Illinois, Obama officially announced his candidacy for president.

Obama Elected President as Racial Barrier Falls

A victory in the Iowa caucuses in January made him a viable challenger to the early frontrunner, Senator Hillary Clinton of New York , whom he outlasted in a grueling primary campaign to claim the Democratic nomination in early June His team also worked to bring new voters—many of them young or black, both demographics they believed favored Obama—to become involved in the election.

Additionally, the campaign was notable for its unprecedented use of the Internet for organizing constituents and fundraising. Of those 6. In terms of campaign issues, Obama pledged to get the United States out of the war in Iraq and expand health care, among other promises. On November 4, more than Obama was the first sitting U.

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