Why Obama is Black: Language, Law and Structures of Power


When he filled out the race section of the 2010 U.S. Census survey, President Barack Obama checked the "Black, African Am., or Negro" box despite the fact that Obama is of both European-American and African ancestry. This simple fact raises a number of complicated questions and challenges the idea that race, or more properly, racism, is a thing of the past or "post" as used in "post-racial." What follows is a critique of the "post-racial" ideology. Centuries of racial sedimentation have made some aspects of racism invisible to the eye, yet an analysis of the post-racial concept shows that debates on race and color are fundamentally flawed. This Essay exposes the concept as a type of wishful thinking, and more critically, how the law prevents this wish from being fulfilled.


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Columbia Journal of Race and Law

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October 20, 2012