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Publishers WeeklyFew were more galvanized by the election of Obama than African Americans. But four years after the first black president moved into the Oval Office, the excitement has been supplemented by the sober realization that no single individual can tackle the major civil rights challenges that remain. BBC journalist Griffith interviews activists, scholars, and others, including Obama's former Green Jobs Advisor Van Jones, to delve into the psyche of African Americans during the Obama years. This slim volume packs a punch as it unpacks uncomfortable truths, and the provocative voices here do not mince words. Some, like Ohio State University law professor Michelle Alexander, fault Obama for not doing more for blacks, going so far as to declare that "there really is no point in putting black and brown faces in positions of power if they aren't actually going to make much of a difference." But others say African Americans slipped into the trap of seeing Obama as a "saviour" and failed to understand that the president is head of state, not the leader of a new civil rights movement. Consequently, according to Jones, expecting Obama to "fix black America" is a mistake; if anyone is going to do that, it will be some person or group outside the political realm. Operating as he does within the constraints of Washington, the president's greatest triumph is perhaps more psychological, as Obama, his wife, and daughters have provided a much needed emotional boost for blacks as the country's First Family.
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