Mixed Messenger: Barack Obama & Post-Racial Politics

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The election of President Barack Hussein Obama marks an important milestone in United States racial politics. Many cultural critics and opinion leaders argue that Obama’s popularity and position represent post-racial accomplishments for the nation.

In this article I argue that post-racial politics, the ideology that race and/or racism is dead, ignores the salient fact that we continue to live in a society deeply influenced by race, with material consequences that affect life chances. I support this argument through an examination of Obama’s racial rhetoric in the address of March 18, 2008 "A More Perfect Union." Through Obama’s uses of mixed race identity, the speech acknowledges the actual history of racial injustice and the ideal future of racial reconciliation through frank deliberation and political intervention, and thus serves as a prologue to racial dialogue rather than a post-racial epilogue or monologue.

“Mixed Messenger: Barack Obama and Post-racial Politics,” Spectator 30.2, (2010): 9-17.



Dr. Dawkins,
I can't wait to see what you do with the Obama essay. Be sure to check out the new book on this speech as well as The Western Journal of Black Studies fall special issue on Obama. I agree with you that we are by no means in a post-racial era. I prefer the term, post-racism. Let's call a spade a spade and not a digging tool. Racism now is more virulent than before primarily because the racists have declared racism over. I think the Union speech actually perpetuates more acts of racial discrimination than it resists. I'll be looking for you to prove me wrong!