America Still Can't Accept a Black President

Ta-Nehisi Coates takes a long look at Obama and American racism
By Mark Russell,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 25, 2012 9:15 AM CDT
President Barack Obama puts his arm around daughter Malia as they and family friends walk to Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House.   (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

(Newser) – The Trayvon Martin shooting at first brought much of America together in a "trans-partisan" reaction, with many Republicans and conservatives sympathizing with the unarmed teenage boy who was killed. But when America's first-ever black president commented on the tragedy—with a mild expression of sympathy and a universal message for "every parent in America"—it quickly descended into "racialized political fodder." Why the change? Because the president's "indelible blackness irradiates everything he touches," writes Ta-Nehisi Coates in the Atlantic, in a long, angry, and nuanced look at race relations in America since the election of President Obama.

Obama came to power seeming to promise a post-racial America; but to do so, he had to be "twice as good" and "half as black," writes Coates. And as soon as Obama seemed to be a black man wielding the power of government, the racist backlash kicked in. To illustrate how the negative attacks on Obama are more than just typical partisanism, Coates looks at how opposition to the Affordable Care Act and other issues has grown racialized, even though Obama has mostly ignored race as an issue since becoming president. "Barack Obama governs a nation enlightened enough to send an African American to the White House, but not enlightened enough to accept a black man as its president," writes Coates. Check out his entire article in the Atlantic.

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