Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Barack Obama and the Politics of Black & White

This week, Newsweek profiles Barack Obama, taking special notice of what his candidacy means for, and says about, race in America. The magazine bluntly asks: "Is Barack Obama black enough?"

The article details how Obama's race credentials were questioned by Cornel West, a leading voice for Black America. After West's criticism, Obama reached out to him, and West is now an unpaid adviser on his campaign.

West noted one of his major issues with Obama's race in this way: In his famous speech at the 2004 DNC, Obama said that his Kenyan father saw America as a "magical place." That line underscored a fundamental difference between Obama's experience, the child of a Kenyan and white Kansan, and the majority of Black America, descended from slaves brought to this hemisphere against their will.

The article is a good read.

It uses race as a kind of metaphor: you learn that much of Obama's life has been about creating concensus and compromise, and moving between different worlds- across the political spectrum, from Hawaii to South Side Chicago, from highrise law firms to church basements, and from "white" to "Black" America.


No comments: