Paint the White House Black: Barack Obama and the Meaning of Race in America

Paint the White House Black: Barack Obama and the Meaning of Race in America

by Michael P. Jeffries

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Barack Obama's election as the first black president in American history forced a reconsideration of racial reality and possibility. It also incited an outpouring of discussion and analysis of Obama's personal and political exploits. Paint the White House Black fills a significant void in Obama-themed debate, shifting the emphasis from the details of Obama's political career to an understanding of how race works in America. In this groundbreaking book, race, rather than Obama, is the central focus.
Michael P. Jeffries approaches Obama's election and administration as common cultural ground for thinking about race. He uncovers contemporary stereotypes and anxieties by examining historically rooted conceptions of race and nationhood, discourses of "biracialism" and Obama's mixed heritage, the purported emergence of a "post-racial society," and popular symbols of Michelle Obama as a modern black woman. In so doing, Jeffries casts new light on how we think about race and enables us to see how race, in turn, operates within our daily lives.
Race is a difficult concept to grasp, with outbursts and silences that disguise its relationships with a host of other phenomena. Using Barack Obama as its point of departure, Paint the White House Black boldly aims to understand race by tracing the web of interactions that bind it to other social and historical forces.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780804780964
Publisher: Stanford University Press
Publication date: 02/13/2013
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 222
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Michael P. Jeffries is the Sidney R. Knafel Assistant Professor of American Studies at Wellesley College. He is the author of Thug Life: Race, Gender, and the Meaning of Hip-Hop (2011), and a frequent contributor to The Atlantic and The Guardian, UK. Visit the author's website,, for additional information about his writing and research.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

Chapter 1 Through the Fog 1

Chapter 2 My (Founding) Father's Son: Race, Nation, and the Politics of Inheritance 19

Chapter 3 "Mutts Like Me": Barack Obama, Tragic Mulattos, and Cool Mixed-Race Millennials 49

Chapter 4 Postracialism Reconsidered: Class, the Black Counterpublic, and the End of Black Politics 81

Chapter 5 The Perils of Being Superwoman: Michelle Obama's Public Image 115

Chapter 6 A Place Called "Obama" 149

Appendix I A Discussion of Racial Inequality 157

Appendix II Interviewing Multiracial Students 163

Notes 171

Index 201

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