cover image What Obama Means: For Our Culture, Our Politics, Our Future

What Obama Means: For Our Culture, Our Politics, Our Future

Jabari Asim. William Morrow & Company, $21.99 (223pp) ISBN 978-0-06-171133-6

In this exultation of everything Obama, author and magazine editor Asim (The N Word) takes a more historical approach to the 43rd President than his title would suggest, focusing more on pop-culture and political forebears than the consequences of Obama's election and presidency. Asim notes the influence of Michael Jackson and Prince, Duke Ellington and Dizzie Gillespie, Jay-Z and Usher, Eddie Murphy and Chris Rock, Jesse Jackson and Colin Powell-among many others-taking in the sweep of African-American empowerment and its drastic effects for Americans of every race. Asim deftly handles the intricacies of Black oratory, like Barbara Jordan's 1976 Democratic national convention keynote speech outlining the legacy of language, and responsibility, that Obama inherits (especially regarding MLK and the context of religion). Though Asim's goal-tying Obama to the proper ""tradition of African American eloquence ""-is, in many chapters, left undeveloped, this is a smart, easily-accessed history of African Americans in the public eye, suitable more for pop-culture enthusiasts than serious students of history or sociology.