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Nation of Cowards

Black Activism in Barack Obama’s Post-Racial America

David H. Ikard and Martell Lee Teasley

Publication Year: 2012

In a speech from which Nation of Cowards derives its title, Attorney General Eric Holder argued forcefully that Americans today need to talk more—not less—about racism. This appeal for candid talk about race exposes the paradox of Barack Obama's historic rise to the US presidency and the ever-increasing social and economic instability of African American communities. David H. Ikard and Martell Lee Teasley maintain that such a conversation can take place only with passionate and organized pressure from black Americans, and that neither Obama nor any political figure is likely to be in the forefront of addressing issues of racial inequality and injustice. The authors caution blacks not to slip into an accommodating and self-defeating "post-racial" political posture, settling for the symbolic capital of a black president instead of demanding structural change. They urge the black community to challenge the social terms on which it copes with oppression, including acts of self-imposed victimization.

Published by: Indiana University Press

Series: Blacks in the Diaspora


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pp. i-vi


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pp. vii-xii

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pp. 1-22

It just so happened that we heard the media commentary surrounding Attorney General Eric Holder’s now (in)famous “race speech” before we actually got the chance to hear the speech itself. The first black attorney general in U.S. history, Holder used his position as the nation’s top law enforcement officer as a bully pulpit to warn Americans that racism...

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The Teaching Moment That Never Was

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pp. 23-36

When distinguished black Harvard professor Henry Louis “Skip” Gates was arrested at his Cambridge, Massachusetts, residence for disorderly conduct on July 16, 2009, by James Crowley, a white police officer, the story seemed at once familiar and unique. Familiar in the sense that African Americans in general and African American men in...

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“I Know What’s in His Heart”

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pp. 37-56

Barely a year into Barack Obama’s presidency, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid captured national headlines when his pre-election perspective on Obama’s chances of becoming the nation’s first black president came to light. Seeking to generate interest in their then upcoming book Game Change (which chronicles the behind-the-scene maneuvering...

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The Audacity of Reverend Wright

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pp. 57-82

In The Fire Next Time James Baldwin tackles a thorny political issue of his day concerning how Black America should respond to rising influence of Malcolm X,1 Elijah Muhammad and the Nation of Islam (hereafter NOI). While Baldwin disagrees with their invented religious doctrine, which casts whites as devils and blacks as God’s chosen people,...

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Setting the Record Straight

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pp. 83-102

Wielding his customary take-no-prisoners satirical approach in his highly controversial Boondocks cartoon series, Aaron McGruder takes aim at the irrational exuberance that swept over black communities during Barack Obama’s historic ascendance to the presidency. More specifically, he uses the Boondocks episode, titled “It’s a Black President, Huey...

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Pull Yourself Up by Your Bootstraps

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pp. 103-136

In 1998 Toni Morrison declared that Bill Clinton was the nation’s first black president in a New Yorker op-ed column, and the idea stuck in many black spaces. Though she is credited (perhaps dubiously) with introducing the idea into the mainstream, hers was merely an articulation of the admiration many African Americans felt toward Bill Clinton.1 Though...


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pp. 137-142


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pp. 143-150


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pp. 151-161

E-ISBN-13: 9780253007018
E-ISBN-10: 0253007011
Print-ISBN-13: 9780253006288

Page Count: 176
Publication Year: 2012

Series Title: Blacks in the Diaspora
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OCLC Number: 821733311
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Nation of Cowards

Research Areas


Subject Headings

  • African Americans -- Politics and government -- 21st century.
  • African Americans -- Social conditions -- 21st century.
  • African Americans -- Economic conditions -- 21st century.
  • Obama, Barack -- Relations with African Americans.
  • United States -- Race relations -- Political aspects.
  • United States -- Politics and government -- 2009-.
  • Post-racialism -- United States.
  • Race awareness -- United States.
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