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Obama and the biracial factor

Obama and the biracial factor: The battle for a new American majority

Edited by Andrew J. Jolivette
Copyright Date: 2012
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  • Book Info
    Obama and the biracial factor
    Book Description:

    Since the election in 2008 of Barack Obama to the Presidency of the United States there have been a plethora of books, films, and articles about the role of race in the election of the first person of color to the White House. None of these works though delves into the intricacies of Mr. Obama's biracial background and what it means. Obama and the Biracial Factor is the first book to explore the significance of mixed-race identity as a key factor in the election of President Obama and examines the sociological and political relationship between race, power, and public policy in the United States with an emphasis on public discourse and ethnic representation in his election . Jolivette and his co-authors bring biracial identity and multiraciality to forefront of our understanding of racial projects since his election. Additionally the authors assert the salience of mixed-race identity in U.S. policy and the on-going impact of the media and popular culture on the development, implementation, and interpretation of government policy and ethnic relations in the U.S. and globally. Obama and the Biracial Factor speaks to a wide array of academic disciplines ranging from political science and public policy to sociology and ethnic studies.

    eISBN: 978-1-4473-0102-8
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. About the authors
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. Acknowledgements
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. Preface
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  6. Part I The Biracial Factor in America

    • CHAPTER ONE Obama and the biracial factor: an introduction
      (pp. 3-30)
      Andrew J. Jolivette

      The United States has a long history of racial, ethnic, and economic competition for resources, political power, and socio-cultural capital. Since first contact with the indigenous peoples in the United States there has been a structural system used through political and military mechanisms to control, define, and articulate a socially constructed racial classification system. While most social scientists have for decades asserted that the notion of race is itself a social construct, most critical race theorists also argue that race remains a salient feature in U.S. society because it is deeply embedded in our social, cultural, political, and legal systems....

    • CHAPTER TWO Race, multiraciality, and the election of Barack Obama: toward a more perfect union?
      (pp. 31-60)
      G. Reginald Daniel

      The rule of hypodescent is a social code that designates racial group membership of the first-generation offspring of unions between European Americans and Americans of color exclusively based on their background of color. Successive generations of individuals who have European American ancestry combined with a background of color, however, have more flexibility in terms of self-identification (Daniel, 2002, 2012; Lee and Bean, 2011; Root, 1998).² The one-drop rule of hypodescent designates as black everyone with any African American ancestry (“one drop of blood”) and precludes any choice in self-identification (Davis, 1991).

      The dominant European Americans began enforcing rules of hypodescent...

    • CHAPTER THREE “A patchwork heritage”: multiracial citation in Barack Obama’s Dreams from My Father
      (pp. 61-80)
      Justin Ponder

      On January 20 2009, just moments after being sworn in as America’s first black President, Barack Obama rose to the platform and gave his inaugural address. According to rhetoric scholar James Mackin (2009), the speech’s defining characteristic was Obama’s use of citation to connect himself with tradition. Americans were unfamiliar with a President that looked like him, so he cited familiar discourses. He directly quoted from the constitution,Swing Time, the Bible, Thomas Paine, Reagan’s 1981 inaugural speech, contemporary statistics, historical events, natural disasters, and world conflicts, but the most notable allusion occurs when he references the crowd. Obama addresses...

    • CHAPTER FOUR Racial revisionism, caste revisited: whiteness, blackness, and Barack Obama
      (pp. 81-96)
      Darryl G. Barthé, Jr.

      In 1903, W.E.B. Du Bois observed that the problem of the twentieth century was the problem of the “color line.” At the turn of the twentieth century, racial divides were being chiseled through the American working class. These divides were codified in laws demanding racial segregation and led to an era referred to by Rayford Logan as the “nadir of American race relations.” Historians argue over when that era came to a close, but the vast majority agrees that it is over. Yet, is it possible that over the course of the last 100 years, or so, the United States...

  7. Part II Beyond Black and White Identity Politics

    • CHAPTER FIVE Obama Mamas and mixed race: hoping for “a more perfect union”
      (pp. 99-112)
      Wei Ming Dariotis and Grace J. Yoo

      In reviewing data from a national study, conducted in May 2009, of mothers and their feelings about the candidacy of Barack Obama for President, we saw a narrative emerge about his identity as a mixed race African American. Some of the mothers who responded themselves identify as mixed race, others identify as the mothers of mixed race children, and still others see Obama’s mixed race identity as a metaphor for healing the racialized fissures in U.S. political and social culture and for mending the relationship of the United States with the international community. Mothers surveyed identified with Obama personally—especially...

    • CHAPTER SIX Is “no one as Irish as Barack O’Bama?”
      (pp. 113-128)
      Rebecca Chiyoko King-O’Riain

      On May 23 2011 Barack Obama visited Ireland for the first time and, amidst an enthusiastic crowd of 50,000 people gathered in College Green, Dublin, began his speech thus: “My name is Barack Obama of the Moneygall Obamas. I’ve come home to find the apostrophe we lost somewhere along the way” (RTE, 2011). The crowd went wild despite the rain and high winds of the classic Irish summer. Obama’s trip to Ireland, his warm embrace by the Irish nation as a “true son of Ireland” (Lord, 2011), and his own recognition of the trip to Ireland as a trip home,...

    • CHAPTER SEVEN Mixed race kin-aesthetics in the age of Obama
      (pp. 129-140)
      Wei Ming Dariotis

      Barack Obama’s decision to mark “Black/African American” on the 2010 census would seem to affirm mixed race Asian American artist Li-lan’s feeling that we are indeed not in a “post-racial” time at all. And what would such a label mean? How would we measure the start of a post-racial era? Would President Obama, born in 1961, or Li-lan, a Chinese and European American artist born a generation earlier, be part of the post-racial era? How so, given that both have lived through significant watersheds in U.S. racism? Their identities are shaped just as much by racism as by being Americans....

    • CHAPTER EIGHT Mutt like me: Barack Obama and the mixed race experience in historical perspective
      (pp. 141-166)
      Zebulon Vance Miletsky

      In an attempt at humor, in his first press conference as President-elect, Barack Obama made an awkward joke in regard to choosing a puppy for his daughters. As many will recall, there had been much talk about adopting a dog during the campaign after Obama had promised his daughters that they could have one if he won the election. It became the kind of fun political issue that media pundits began reporting on as a light alternative to the heavy issues of the long and drawn-out, and often negative campaign. “We have two criteria that have to be reconciled. One...

  8. Part III The Battle for a New American Majority

    • CHAPTER NINE A different kind of blackness: the question of Obama’s blackness and intraracial variation among African Americans
      (pp. 169-190)
      Robert Keith Collins

      Prior to that amazing day of January 20 2009, many African Americans talked about Senator Barack Obama as if he was not “black enough,” would not understand “the black experience,” and that most Americans—by the time they realized that he was not a “real black man”—they also believed that he would not be able to execute the office of President of the United States. This notion of what counts a “true blackness” is receiving much revitalized attention as a result of CNN’s Solidad O’Brien’s critical discussion series “Black in America”: “the black experience” may be much more varied...

    • CHAPTER TEN Avoiding race or following the racial scripts? Obama and race in the recessionary period of the colorblind era
      (pp. 191-204)
      Kathleen Odell Korgen and David L. Brunsma

      The United States is founded upon many stories and scripts. Individualism, property, ownership, rights, democracy, white supremacy, patriarchy, and empire are some of the stories that have been woven into the fabric of dominant U.S. institutions and interpersonal relationships. There are also embroidered patterns etched upon this fabric—us/them, individual/structure, black/white, men/women, etc. Such a fabric also structures the scripts from which individuals, like the President of the United States, can draw to resonate with the people, create laws and policies, and to do the job. Acknowledgement of this reality helps us to begin understanding that President Barack Obama cannot...

    • CHAPTER ELEVEN Barack Obama and the rise to power: Emmett Till revisited
      (pp. 205-226)
      Andrew J. Jolivette

      In the social sciences ideology is often viewed as problematic without empirical evidence to support assertions about the social world. While empirical data often supports research findings and new scientific inquiries—it is ideology that often informs behavior in human beings. As the essays in this collection assert—multiracial identity and the construction of mixed race hegemony has profound implications on socioeconomic status, parenting, politics, public policy, the arts, history, and literary analysis. The contributors to this book demonstrate with complex and diverse examples how contemporary American politics in the United States is still deeply affected by race and ethnicity,...

  9. Index
    (pp. 227-237)
  10. Back Matter
    (pp. 238-238)