The Black Presidency: Barack Obama and the Politics of Race in America

Michael Eric Dyson. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $27 (336p) ISBN 978-0-544-38766-9
In insightful fashion, Dyson (Come Hell or High Water: Hurricane Katrina and the Color of Disaster) looks at how President Obama has dealt with, in James Baldwin's phrase, "the burden of representation" as an African-American. He begins with the president's strained relationships with political elders such as Marcia Fudge, Emanuel Cleaver, and Maxine Waters. Dyson cites Martin Luther King Jr., Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton as inspirations for the president's "linguistic charisma" and podium skills, which reflect "the beauty and power of black rhetoric." However, Dyson roundly criticizes Obama's typically measured responses to the race-related controversies of his term, from professor Henry Louis Gates Jr.'s arrest in Massachusetts and the death of teenager Trayvon Martin in Florida to the riots in Ferguson, Mo., and the church murders in Charleston, S.C. At the same time, the author acknowledges that, as America's first black president, Obama faces unusually heightened expectations. He has been in a precarious position, one that Dyson examines diligently and passionately in this timely analysis. Agent: Tanya McKinnon, McKinnon McIntyre. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 01/04/2016
Release date: 02/02/2016
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 384 pages - 978-0-544-81180-5
Open Ebook - 288 pages - 978-0-544-38642-6
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