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Race and the Obama PhenomenonThe Vision of a More Perfect Multiracial Union$
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G. Reginald Daniel and Hettie V. Williams

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9781628460216

Published to University Press of Mississippi: May 2015

DOI: 10.14325/mississippi/9781628460216.001.0001

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date: 22 July 2018

Barack Obama’s (Im)Perfect Union

Barack Obama’s (Im)Perfect Union

An Analysis of the Strategic Successes and Failures in His Speech on Race

(p.311) 15. Barack Obama’s (Im)Perfect Union
Race and the Obama Phenomenon

Ebony Utley

Amy L. Heyse

University Press of Mississippi

This chapter argues that Barack Obama’s “A More Perfect Union” speech was an appropriate and successful response to a political-personal crisis. He negotiated the controversy surrounding his personal relationship with Reverend Wright by acknowledging racial disparities in the United States without placing blame for those disparities. Accordingly, Obama successfully maintained a post-racial rhetorical stance that appealed to extremely diverse audiences. Yet the speech failed to accurately represent a racially differentiated United States of America. By sanitizing the country’s histories of chattel slavery and racism, Obama’s speech reified many harmful racial tropes. Our essay exposes the potentially damaging strategies Obama employed to resolve his political-personal crisis and considers the rhetorical implications of a post-racial discourse.

Keywords:   Race, Barack Obama, Race Speech, Imperfect Union, Strategic Successes, Postracial

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