Racial politics in a post-racial presidency

Sep 14, 2011

Even given the progress which has been made in American race relations, there is still a tangible quality which affects not only society as a whole, but microcosmic interactions between members of different ethnic groups as well. For the first time in this country’s history, the man serving as President has acutely experienced racism both in his lifetime as a private citizen and as a political candidate in the public sphere. Randall Kennedy, Harvard Law Professor, addresses this issue in The Persistence of the Color Line: Racial Politics and the Obama Presidency. This is the first such book to be authored by a major African-American intellectual figure, making it all the more hard-hitting and complex in scope and perspective. For instance, Kennedy does not simply explore the racial opposition Obama faced as a black man running for president, he also extensively investigates Obama’s relationship with the African-American constituency. Does Barack Obama have a singular responsibility to African Americans? What exactly characterizes black patriotism in the United States? How close are we to the hypothetical post-racial society we’ve been pursuing since the civil rights movement?

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