Title Page, Copyright

pdf iconDownload PDF
 

Contents

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. vii-viii

read more

Foreword

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. ix-xiv

For centuries, blacks and assorted other so-called minorities in America were defined by their otherness—their options circumscribed by the general assumption that they were too alien, too indigestible, to fully melt into the American pot. In The Souls of Black Folk, W. E. B. Du Bois poignantly described the bewilderment and alienation...

read more

Preface

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. xv-xvi

This book is the culmination of almost two decades of work on multiethnic societies, nationalism, and identity. I have a personal interest in the topic. My writing reflects a deep desire to see the success of efforts to strengthen national unity and inculcate an inclusive American national identity. Having learned from my...

read more

Acknowledgments

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. xvii-xviii

There are many I want to thank and acknowledge for giving me assistance, guidance, and support in the writing of this book. In terms of institutional support, I am grateful to Empire State College of the State University of New York, my professional home since 2002, which awarded me a sabbatical year to research and write the book...

read more

Introduction

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 1-10

Barack Obama is a different kind of president. What Obama brings to the presidency is something far more important than simply being an African American. This book focuses on his particular understanding of what it means to be an American and his commitment to transforming the way we define our national identity by making it fully...

read more

1. American National Identity

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 11-26

Who is an American? The American nation, according to the Declaration of Independence, knew no boundaries at its founding. As written, the Declaration did not differentiate among blacks, whites, or members of any ethnic group when discussing the self-evident truth of human equality. The document cited the “good people of...

read more

2. Since the 1960s

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 27-46

Since its emergence in the 1960s, multiculturalism has come in many varieties— some moderate, others more extreme.1 Broadly defined, multiculturalism has hovered over the discussion of how to define our national identity for more than four decades. The moderate or “soft” form of multiculturalism celebrates the contributions and identities of nonwhite...

read more

3. Obama’s Search for His Own Identity

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 47-70

As many observers have noted, Obama’s autobiography, Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance, is strikingly literary and not typical for its genre.1 The work falls somewhere between two well-established categories. It is clearly within a long tradition of identity narratives written by African Americans and in its approach to race...

read more

4. Obama on Racial Discrimination

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 71-88

Melissa Harris-Perry has identified four basic, broad ideologies that encompass much of contemporary African American political thought: black nationalism, black conservatism, black feminism, and liberal integrationism. 1 There certainly are significant divergences—particularly in rhetorical style and points of emphasis—among...

read more

5. Candidate and President Obama’sBroader Rhetoric on Race

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 89-108

The way Barack Obama has approached race in America drew harsh criticism from some black commentators as early as late 2006, when it became apparent that he was seriously considering a run for the White House.1 Some accused him of downplaying black issues or the importance of racism, of somehow being “not black enough” in his politics...

read more

6. Obama’s Vision of National Identity and National Unity

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 109-134

Since the founding of the country, Americans have grappled with how much weight to assign, respectively, to unity and diversity in defining our national identity. Focusing solely on unity, as Teddy Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson did, demands cultural homogenization and rejects people’s desire to preserve the cultural heritage and identity of their...

read more

7. Obama’s Narrative of American History and Our Place in the World

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 135-162

Obama’s depiction of our history as the saga of a people that has fought and—bit by bit—succeeded in enshrining in law equality for those initially denied it stands at the center of his drive to invigorate American national identity. According to Gary Nash, “History . . . is about national identity. . . . It provides so much of the substance...

read more

8. Rejecting obama’s America

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 163-198

Many voices have expressed opposition to President Obama’s inclusive and strongly unified definition of American national identity and his balanced yet hopeful narrative of our history. On the far left, critics have accused him of glossing over the oppression that America and its white majority have inflicted on its ethnic minorities over time. A different kind of antagonism has arisen from a certain segment...

read more

Conclusion

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 199-202

My Country ’Tis of Thee. Think of the words and the meaning of this song. Marian Anderson sang it in 1939 on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial after, ironically, the Daughters of the American Revolution had vetoed her proposed concert in front of a racially integrated crowd in Constitution Hall. The lyrics surely evoked different feelings on the part of minority and especially black Americans compared...

Notes

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 203-238

Selected Bibliography

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 239-242

Index

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 243-250

read more

About the Author

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 251-254

Raised in Smithtown, Long Island, Ian Reifowitz graduated from Brown University with a BA in history and from Georgetown University with a PhD in history. Since 2002, he has taught history at Empire State College of the State University of New York, and in 2009 he received...