I am honored to present Volume 22 of Political Power and Social Theory (PPST). This volume is a landmark, in that it is among the first volumes of PPST to be dedicated to a single topic. With the 2012 U.S. Presidential Election in sight, this special volume on the meaning of Barack Obama's presidency from a critical social science perspective is especially timely. For the first part of the volume, Eduardo Bonilla-Silva and Louise Seamster have put together a diverse collection of essays on the politics of race in the age of Obama. For the second part (the Scholarly Controversy section familiar to PPST readers), Philip S. Gorski offers provocative reflections on Obama and civil religion in the United States, with critical commentary from Joseph Gerteis, Andrew R. Murphy, and Michael Young and Christopher Pieper.
This essay tackles the Obama “phenomenon,” from his candidacy to his election, as a manifestation of the new “color-blind racism” that has characterized U.S. racial…
This essay tackles the Obama “phenomenon,” from his candidacy to his election, as a manifestation of the new “color-blind racism” that has characterized U.S. racial politics in the post-civil rights era. Rather than symbolizing the “end of race,” or indeed a “miracle,” Obama's election is a predictable result of contemporary U.S. electoral politics. In fact, Obama is a middle-of-the-road Democrat whose policies since taking office have been almost perfectly in line with his predecessors, especially in terms of his failure to improve the lot of blacks and other minorities. In this essay, I review the concept of color-blind racism and its application to the Obama phenomenon. I also revisit some of my past predictions for Obama's presidency and evaluate their accuracy halfway through his term. Finally, I offer suggestions for constructing a genuine social movement to push Obama and future politicians to provide real, progressive “change we can believe in.”
This chapter is based on a chapter I added for the third edition of my book, Racism without Racists. Louise Seamster, a wonderful graduate student at Duke, helped me update some material, locate new sources, and rework some sections, as well as abridge some of the many footnotes (interested readers can consult the chapter). I kept the first person to maintain the more direct and engaged tone of the original piece and because the ideas (the good, the bad, and the ugly ones) in the chapter are mine, and thus, I wish to remain entirely responsible for them.
In this special section of Political Power and Social Theory, we present the work of scholars from various disciplines documenting and analyzing the Obama phenomenon. The…
In this special section of Political Power and Social Theory, we present the work of scholars from various disciplines documenting and analyzing the Obama phenomenon. The work in this section, including both theoretical and empirical analysis, is an early step in the much-needed academic discussion on Obama and racial politics in the contemporary United States. We offer this compendium as a call-to-arms to progressives and leftists, encouraging the revival of radical critique of Obama's discourse and policies instead of the fulsome praise or confused silence that has so far greeted Obama from the left.