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Michelle Obama And Race In America

FILE - In this Jan. 21, 2013, file photo, President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama wave to guests after their dance at the Inaugural Ball at the 57th Presidential Inauguration in Washington. Michelle Obama has a new look, both in person and online, and with the president's re-election, she has four more years as first lady, too. The first lady is trying to figure out what comes next for this self-described "mom in chief" who also is a champion of healthier eating, an advocate for military families, a fitness buff and the best-selling author of a book about her White House garden. For certain, she'll press ahead with her well-publicized efforts to reduce childhood obesity and rally the country around its service members. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya, File)

President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama wave to guests after their dance at the Inaugural Ball at the 57th Presidential Inauguration in Washington in January. (Paul Sancya/AP)

A post-racial president? Not so fast, says Wellesly social scientist Michael Jeffries. We’ll talk about his new book on the state of race and class and gender in Obama’s America.

Guests

Michael Jeffries, Knafel Assistant Professor of Social Sciences and assistant professor of American studies, studies race, gender, politics, identity, and popular culture at Wellesley College. His new book is “Paint the White House Black: Barack Obama and the Meaning of Race in America.”

More

Michelle Obama has been the subject of numerous portrayals in the media that many consider racist. You can find some examples of controversial cartoons here, here, and here.

WBUR “Obama’s name appears in the titles of courses at colleges and universities across the country, and even those that don’t pitch themselves as classes about the president are full of Obama-related reading and discussion; “Obama Studies” is emerging.”

The Atlantic “One of the iconic moments of late Bush-era America came when Kanye West wandered off script at a Hurricane Katrina telethon and boldly proclaimed, “George Bush doesn’t care about black people.” Despite some obvious political and personal differences between Bush and Barack Obama, the current president has also been criticized for taking black supporters for granted and failing to advance a policy agenda that effectively combats black suffering.”

Wellesley College “We need to move away from “great man” or “great woman” explanations for historical change. President Obama is a supremely talented politician, and an important thinker and speaker in many ways, but he operates within all sorts of constraints. Likewise, our impressions of the president are constrained by our cultural context—the language we use, the images we see, and the stories that are amplified by media outlets become the raw material for building our own personal models of Barack Obama.”

Excerpt


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