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The Obama PhenomenonToward a Multiracial Democracy$
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Charles P. Henry, Robert L. Allen, and Robert Chrisman

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780252036453

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252036453.001.0001

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The New Negro in African American Politics

The New Negro in African American Politics

Barack Obama and the Politics of Racial Representation

Chapter:
(p.200) Twelve The New Negro in African American Politics
Source:
The Obama Phenomenon
Author(s):

Ronald Williams

Publisher:
University of Illinois Press
DOI:10.5406/illinois/9780252036453.003.0013

This chapter raises the question of how Barack Obama, an African American, was able to achieve the support of American whites, enough to win not only his party's nomination, but also ultimately the presidential election by a landslide. It argues that Obama's success in American politics is rooted primarily in his “acceptability” as an African American racial representative in the eyes of American whites. By acceptable to American whites, the point here is that Obama was able to achieve his status as racial representative primarily because of categorical rejection, exclusion, and repression of black leaders with agendas that were understood to be in any way radical or as posing a threat to the existing racial arrangement. Obama was the modern-day representative Negro in that he represented black people most eloquently and elegantly, and because he was the race's great opportunity to re-present itself in the court of racist public opinion.

Keywords:   Barack Obama, race, racial representation, African Americans, American whites, presidential election, race relations

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