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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: 23 July 2018

Barack Hussein Obama, or, the Name of the Father

Barack Hussein Obama, or, the Name of the Father

(p.116) (p.117) 5. Barack Hussein Obama, or, the Name of the Father
Race and the Obama Phenomenon

Tavia Nyong’o

University Press of Mississippi

This chapter argues that many commentators have held forth the possibility that Barack Obama might be the United States’ first “post-racial” president. Others have subjected this notion to a perhaps deserved derision. Yet, few have been as interested in contemplating another, equally likely prospect that he is the nation’s first post-colonial president. This silence bespeaks the degree to which “empire” remains a name that is still, on many public occasions, forbidden to pronounce. And Obama’s relationship to the colonial-modern is so obvious, yet so hard to hold consistently in view, like the nose on one’s face. Barack Hussein Obama has a Swahili first name, a Luo surname, and that notorious middle name. He was born in Hawaii and raised there and in Indonesia. And yet, a crucial percentage of the US voting public actively disattended the transnationalism and postcoloniality of this black name long enough to select him as a national surrogate. But now that American presidentialism has appropriated to itself the black male body that has so long served as its other, how is this interstice between the national and non-national to be navigated?

Keywords:   Race, Mixed race, Lacan, Postcoloniality, Fatherhood, Other

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