Barack Obama and Race in the United States: A History of the Future

Gregory D Smithers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Barack Obama’s rise to the presidency has unleashed newfound optimism about the United States’ racial future. For millions of Americans, an Obama presidency represents a radical departure from the nation’s dark and often brutal racial past, and the opening of a new chapter in America’s history. In books, newspapers, periodicals, and on 24-hour cable television news channels, we are told that Obama embodies the promise of a ‘colour blind’ or ‘post-racial’ future in which racial distinctions no longer matter. This essay asks that we pause to consider the meaning behind terms such as ‘colour blindness’ and ‘post-racial’. These terms often act as political mantras and obscure the depths to which America’s racial history often descended. The essay suggests that terms such as ‘colour blindness’ and ‘post-racial’ must not be used uncritically because, as Obama has acknowledged in his books and speeches, race and racism continue to shape the lives of millions of Americans.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
JournalAustralasian Journal of American Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2009


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