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Can we talk about Obama and Race?
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Can we talk about Obama and Race?

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A strong crowd of attendess arrived early to hear from the knowledgable panel members, anticipating a thought-provoking discussion on Monday evening at Suffolk University's Law School. If you were ...

A strong crowd of attendess arrived early to hear from the knowledgable panel members, anticipating a thought-provoking discussion on Monday evening at Suffolk University's Law School. If you were unable to attend the very informative “Obama and race” event presented by Community Change, be sure visit their website to learn about this initial discussion.

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  • Circuits of dispossession: incarceration, health inequalities, education, income, employment.
  • Transition to sitting at my faculty meeting – isn’t it great? Everything has changed overnight. I still work at a place where I am regularly stopped and told I am not allowed to park in faculty parking lots. I am often the only person of color in the courses I teach. Looking around, not very much had changed except the decibel level of this colleagues comments, which I heard over and over again.
  • The takeway from Jeremy Lin from Westen and from images of Obama and what they inspire and incite is that we are most definitely not at all postracial. We are racialized. What we might ask is why we are so anxious to be rid of our melanin. Why, in 2012, it is still so common for people to claim that they don’t see color. Why in fact, it’s important to locate one’s cognitive processing outside of racial lenses. To remove that as part of our humanity, as part of how we create social relations with each other.
  • It seems to me that there are two things that this group has in common: a commitment to removing this black man fro the oval office, at all expenses, particularly to the working poor men and women of this country. If you ask me, and I kinda feel like you have since I’m standing up here, we have very little time to waste. The social inequities rage on, and as long as we are so quick to remove ourselves from the effects and processes or racialization, we are living anywhere but reality.
  • Circuits of dispossession: incarceration, health inequalities, education, income, employment.

Can we talk about Obama and Race? Presentation Transcript

  • 1. Can we talk about Obama and Race?   Presented by Community Change, Inc., Suffolk Black Law Students Association, and Suffolk Rappaport Center for Law & Public Service
  • 2. Racism: Our DefinitionRacism = Racial Prejudice + Systemic Power
  • 3. INTERNAL INTERPERSONAL Individual’s inner Interactions process between individuals DIMENSIONS OF A SYSTEM INSTITUTIONAL CULTURAL Individuals’ Interwovennegotiation of roles, pattern defining resources, who individuals are responsibilities and how they are within given to do things system
  • 4. What happened to Obama’s passion? In similar circumstances, Franklin D. Roosevelt offered Americans a promise to use the power of his office to make their lives better and to keep trying until he got it right. Westen
  • 5. I wish I didn’t agree with this searing analysis of President Obama’s failings Dear Mr. Obama, please hire this man! You’ve – but do. lost the hearts and minds of the American Completely. public and they are looking for new leadership in places like the Tea Party. Take back the power – a little confrontation is good sometimes.Obama had every opportunity to set the stagefor a Progressive movement that could last fordecades and forge a new direction for this “I wish these guys couldcountry. He has failed miserably. coach Obama on speaking. I voted for him, and I’m totally at odds with the GOP, but I am hugely disappointed and frustrated with the President.”
  • 6. What happened to Obama’s passion? In similar circumstances, Franklin D. Roosevelt offered Americans a promise to use the power of his office to make their lives better and to keep trying until he got it right. Westen
  • 7. Reflections…1. How have you experienced discussions about President Obama?2. Can we critique President Obama without falling into racial pitfalls?3. Come up with one or more insights and questions you have gained from the speakers and your discussions at your tables.
  • 8. Questions and Insights from the Audience• Can you critique President Obama without falling into racial pitfalls?• Can President Obama get angry without irreparable damage?• Is the “angry black man” strategy the one Obama should apply? Or will that course backlash?• How do we have a conversation about this topic with individuals and groups who only see race/racism as internal and interpersonal instead of systemic?
  • 9. Questions and Insights from the Audience cont.• What strategies are required to raise the race issue in a national manner?• Obama is attacked in the media already so how would the media portray an “angry” Obama? How could this strategy work?• How much of what we are observing (and criticizing) about Obama is due to his relative inexperience in Washington politics?
  • 10. Questions and Insights from the Audience cont.• What are some techniques that we can use to break into this conversation of Obama in the context of a racialized society while properly dividing the political and racial reality?• Is there a difference between the Republican Party and Tea Party relative to racism?• How can I talk to peace activists about Obama?
  • 11. Questions and Insights from the Audience cont.• How do we reconcile Obama’s responsibilities as POTUS and his responsibility as a black leader? If he has a responsibility has he lived up to those expectations? Can he?• Do you think the economic progress of Washington would have been different over the past four years had a different personal been elected in 2008?• One problem is the uninformed and underinformed viewer/vote. These will say they are not racist because they don’t call or use racial epithets.
  • 12. Questions and Insights from the Audience cont.• Can we all please grant the appropriate respect and not disrespect the office of the President and always into the future address Mr. Obama as President Obama? Thank you.• Professor Stevens seemed to be critical of people who say Obama hasn’t done enough. Professor Cooper said Obama should get angry. Please reconcile the two statements.
  • 13. Questions and Insights from the Audience cont.• The image of President Obama with a white woman pointing at him is upsetting and disrespectful. Why is this stream, you lie, of disrespect tolerated in a veil of standing up for America?• Was Obama embraced because he is half-white? Should he ignore his white half?• As whites become more and more a minority with the majority of power and wealth do you think racial tensions and racist legislation like the laws in Arizona will increase?
  • 14. Questions and Insights from the Audience cont.• Racial discussions are still taboo: whites feel shame, people of color blame and the discussion is lame.• If race is mentioned, then Obama is playing the “race card.” If it is not mentioned, then Obama is perceived as weak and bending to the white populace. Because races is so institutionalized in our society, most conversations cannot be had without sometimes falling into racial pitfalls. Whites tend to blame blacks for their social conditions and hardly ever recognize or discuss their privilege.
  • 15. Questions and Insights from the Audience cont.• Is President Obama a president who happens to be black or a Black President? He’s repeatedly told use he is the president for all Americans. Reaction: white people don’t believe it , and black people feel betrayed.• Remember the 2008 campaign at a John Edwards Town Hall meeting a woman asked Edwards, “Do you think if Obama gets elected he will try to settle the score with whites for all the racial injustices that came before him?”
  • 16. Questions and Insights from the Audience cont.• How do you promote discussion about race in college or law school without coming across as racist or claiming race?• It seems that white supremacists are hiding in plain sight within the Tea Party. Why aren’t people talking about these racist infiltrations? The media drives the rhetoric with soundbites that inflame the “isms” but never present a forum to discuss these issues.
  • 17. Thank you!For more resources, please check out the back of your program or visit us at Community Change, Inc: www.communitychangeinc.org