African-American Identity in the Age of Obama

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

In a new book, Professor Michael Eric Dyson explains how he described Barack Obama's attitude toward African-American identity during the 2008 election. "[W]hat I've noticed is that he's proud of his race, but that doesn't capture the range of his identity. He's rooted in, but not restricted by, his blackness." A new book, "Who's Afraid of Post-Blackness?", examines that concept, and the complicated identity of the 40 million African-Americans in the U.S. today.

The book's author, Touré, fiction writer, music critic, and correspondent for MSNBC, defines "post-blackness" and gives examples of it in modern America.

Comments [2]

Marques Travae

I've been anxious to read Toure's book so that I can scrutinize his arguments a little closer. Black identity can be a strange thing. Growing up in the 80s as a black kid in an 85% black city and going to a Catholic school, I was also accused of "acting" white. It amazes me this stigma of being educated and articulate being equated with whiteness.

Black identity has evolved since the end of the Civil Rights/Black Power era and, unfortunately, it appears that a certain type of mentality represented by lower class values and attitutudes has hijacked and dictated and been appointed as gatekeeper of black authenticity.

With the end of segregation, there simply doesn't exist any one issue that unites the black community, so the question of black identity remains.

Although I admit I don't listen to the TAKEAWAY everyday, I never knew that Celeste was black! Why is that? And to Celeste, I discovered and began buying the music of your grandfather, William Grant Still 10 years ago. If black identity falls prey to a certain, narrow prerequisite of what blackness is supposed to be, folks like Still, Jimi Hendrix and Charley Pride would be forever lost in Black History.

Sep. 14 2011 08:37 AM
Mike from Seattle, WA

Props to the NW African American Museum and Evelyn, volunteer genealogist who helped me determine that my ancestors trace back to / through: Tennessee, Virginia, Germany, England and Scotland as well as ultimately back to Africa. White on my mother's side. White and Black on my father's side.

Born in the mid 50's a child of the 60's, I grew up in what was then the mostly black Selby-Dale area of Twin Cities, MN. To look at me, I'm white. By ancestry and the influence of the culture in which I was raised, I'm black. Lately, I think of myself as a black man in a white man's body.

I've been told, I don't "look" black and don't "act" white.

"Post Blackness"? Born in the era of colored / negro. Migrated through black, Afro-American, African American, bi-racial, mulatto, the one drop rule.

"Black" is a state of mind. It's a socio-political description. Today, regardless of what you might think of me, I'm "black" and ALL else that applies based on my heritage.


Sep. 13 2011 05:34 PM

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