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Author to Discuss Obama, Black Activism and the Oct. 3 Debate | UVA Today

The shadows of youth: the remarkable journey of the civil rights generation. The price of the ticket: Barack Obama and the rise and decline of Black politics. Waking from the dream: the struggle for civil rights in the shadow of Martin Luther King Jr. A life in red: a story of forbidden love, the Great Depression, and the communist fight for a Black nation in the deep South. More By Kengor, Paul, The crusader: Ronald Reagan and the fall of communism. Further, some of these complications may have helped to resurrect manifestations of racism that could have seemed unlikely to reappear.

Unfair though it may have been, the strategy that might have worked best might have been to have addressed some of the legitimate concerns that poor, rural whites had that led to the especially onerous environment that Obama had to contend with. That is to say that, while there is a legitimate question over what and whom deserved the most consideration, Obama may have been well-served to have considered the particular wants and needs of poor whites while addressing issues of race and poverty in general.

As Harris puts it, on pg. Harris makes his case in six chapters. Harris walks us through the empowerment of the s Civil Rights movement and conceptions of African-American politics that followed, including rivaling independent and coalition movements. Harris provides a compelling account of how Chisholm and Jesse Jackson helped to solve problems so that Obama later avoided them.

Put simply, Harris states on pg.

Black Lives Matter and the Price of the Ticket

Chicago was not merely a backdrop for the rise of Obama. In fact, Chicago seems to have long been where the cutting edge of African-American electoral politics was put to the test. Diverging opinions on who should ally, and to what ends, led to a refined niche that a pragmatic Obama was able to take advantage of in order to tend to his ascendency. But Obama was not fully able to escape his Chicago legacy.

President Obama was made to answer for Reverend Jeremiah Wright having given a sermon in the long tradition of black liberation theology. Black liberation theology had historically preached that the United States was worth criticizing on moral grounds, and that it was righteous for African-Americans to fight for their own empowerment.

The Rise of Respectability Politics

By , Obama was two years removed from his post in the Illinois Senate and two years further removed from having been a more vocal advocate for racial issues. Harris uses the next chapter to explain how Barack Obama plays a role in a kind of intraracial dispute: that of social norms.

Harris tells us, on pg. Harris seems to recognize some of the complexities of the problem. Perhaps most people would agree that President Obama could not be the sole source of all of the problems raised by Harris.

They can vote to help Democrats win or do nothing that might be helpful to African-American causes. In fact, Harris seems to have been interested in some of these questions for quite some time. Obama seems to have constantly felt the need to explain that economic measures are intended for universal benefit and not targeted at African-Americans.

In the end, Harris leaves us to consider exactly what the price of the ticket really is. Harris demonstrates that the election of Obama may have appeared to have been a victory, and perhaps in many ways, it was one. It is impressive, especially considering that Harris more often works by a different mode: by way of statistical analysis. He relies a good deal on logical arguments in order to build a case, occasionally using relevant quotations from figures important to his narrative, along with scattered assistance from other relevant scholars and media figures.

For example, Harris begins chapter three by recalling an important speech by Reverend Wright.


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Later, on pg. That said, I would like to complicate the situation some.


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  • I do not expect that Harris could have predicted what could have happened, so to be clear, I recognize that my position outlined here comes with a great advantage in terms of available information. But I would like to argue that President Obama had a perhaps unobvious opportunity. What I mean is that the problematic Tea Party movement appears to have been something fabricated by the Power Elite in order to pass a neoconservative and to insulate the government from leftist forces.

    In some ways, the situation was made apparently more challenging by mass incarceration and liberalization of immigration policy, at least from the perspective of these poor, rural whites, in particular. Should we care about the plights of poor, rural whites? After all, are these not the willful bigots trying to hold back the United States in so many ways? It hardly seems fair that those maybe most responsible for the immiseration of so many in the African-American community should get special positive attention from President Obama.

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    I would argue that it is not exactly fair, but the situation in front of us is a complicated one that may require counterintuitive and ahistorical consideration in order to fully accomplish agreed-upon goals. Then again, to consider recent history, rural whites have, in recent decades, lost a good deal at least in terms of their material welfare.

    Conservative rhetoric about where jobs were going, who was leeching off of the government, and other dog whistle messages seemed to give targets for many of these suddenly disempowered whites to misguidedly attack. Instead of recognizing that they had been sold out by politicians and the Power Elite, they directed their frustrations toward people of color and other underprivileged groups.

    Perhaps there is no good justification for policies and rhetoric that might benefit poor whites, but it may be that such policies and rhetoric represent the most practical solution, anyway.


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    • With that said, the situation inherited by Obama seems to have been especially challenging.