What Obama Means: ...for Our Culture, Our Politics, Our Future

What Obama Means: ...for Our Culture, Our Politics, Our Future

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by Jabari Asim
     
 

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“Provocative and compelling.”
 —New York Newsday

 

“Both entertaining and insightful.”
Washington Post Book World

“It should be on the required reading list.”
 —Chicago Sun-Times

 

What Obama

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Overview

“Provocative and compelling.”
 —New York Newsday

 

“Both entertaining and insightful.”
Washington Post Book World

“It should be on the required reading list.”
 —Chicago Sun-Times

 

What Obama Means by Jabari Asim, renowned cultural critic and author of The N Word, is a timely and sharp analysis of how the “Obama phenomenon” exhibits progress in American politics and society. A frequent guest and commentator on “The Colbert Report,” “The Today Show,” NPR’s “Diane Rehm Show” and many other media programs, Asim also examines how cultural and political forces led to the watershed 2008 presidential election while indicating what the election means for every American.  

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Editorial Reviews

Richard Thompson Ford
What Obama Means dispatches a formidable battery of references to pop and high culture with the machine-gun pacing of a music video. Often, the results are both entertaining and insightful. Asim's enthusiasm for his subject keeps the reader engaged, and the strength of his underlying thesis about changing race relations usually grounds his heavily anecdotal exposition.
—The Washington Post
Kirkus Reviews
The editor-in-chief of the NAACP's The Crisis magazine conducts a celebratory tour d'horizon of the cultural and political developments that paved the way for Barack Obama's rise. Surely, Obama's writing, oratory and first-class campaign are most responsible for his historic election, but he also had the judgment and courage to understand the country's readiness to elect its first African-American president. Asim (The N Word, 2007, etc.) identifies and explains the significance of many of Obama's cultural antecedents from the world of sports (Arthur Ashe, Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods), music (Prince, Michael Jackson, Jay-Z), movies (Sidney Poitier, Morgan Freeman, Denzel Washington), television (Bill Cosby, Dennis Haysbert) and politics (Shirley Chisholm, Doug Wilder, Jesse Jackson). He convincingly demonstrates how these icons had already helped shape society in a fashion that enabled Obama's breakthrough. To a generation raised on The Cosby Show, "accustomed" to a black president through TV shows like 24 and familiar with authoritative, real-life figures like Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice, the Illinois senator's seemingly effortless ability to bridge the black and white worlds appears unremarkable. To Americans tethered less to history than to video-sharing and text messaging, Obama's articulate, multicultural, charismatic cool means far more than his connection to a tradition of black, activist intellectuals that stretches back to Frederick Douglass. Occasionally, Asim trips over his own argument. It's unclear, for example, how comedian Sarah Silverman's "fearless" and "irreverent" use of racial stereotypes on Obama's behalf measurably differs from the blackface satire of SaturdayNight Live or the recent film Tropic Thunder, or how, precisely, Obama has exploited the cultural fixture of the "Magic Negro" while simultaneously subverting it. For the most part, though, Asim places a sure finger on the culture's pulse, ably reporting the signal factors contributing to a moment of societal transformation that Obama appears to have mastered. An alert, thoroughly readable assessment of a candidacy that seemed unlikely only to those who weren't paying attention.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780061977220
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
10/06/2009
Sold by:
HARPERCOLLINS
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
240
File size:
475 KB

Meet the Author

Jabari Asim is the author of the critically acclaimed The N Word. He is editor-in-chief of The Crisis—the magazine of the NAACP—and former editor at and frequent contributor to the Washington Post, and his writing has appeared on Salon.com and in Essence, the Los Angeles Times, and other publications. He divides his time between Maryland and Illinois with his wife and five children.

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