Elwood Watson: The Season of Racial Discontent





[Dr. Elwood Watson is a full professor of history and African-American studies at East Tennessee State University. He is the author of several award-winning academic articles, several anthologies and is the author of the book “Outsiders Within: Black Women in the Legal Academy After Brown v. Board” (Rowman and Littlefield Publisher, Spring 2008).]

For anyone who thought the election of Barack Obama ushered in an era of post-racial harmony, several events that have transpired over the past few months should assuage any doubts of such a notion....

It seems that race relations in certain quarters of America have become intense during Obama’s tenure as commander–in-chief. From more benign, yet problematic comments such as Nevada Senate candidate Harry Reid's reference to Obama as a “light-skinned Negro with no Negro dialect,” to more problematic rhetoric from former Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin urging Laura Schlessinger “not to retreat, but rather, reload” in response to the criticism Schlessinger received for repeatedly using one of the most vile racial epithets in American history, to disturbing comments from Kentucky Tea Party candidate Ron Paul who described “certain portions” of the Civil Rights Act as “problematic.” During her tirade, Schlessinger also offended those Americans involved in interracial marriages and relationships. In the case [of] Gibson, let’s be honest, were we really all that surprised?...


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