Matthew C. Whitaker: Change Blossoming in the "Age of Obama"tags: Barack Obama, Arizona, Matthew C. Whitaker, blackness
Matthew C. Whitaker is an ASU Foundation professor of history and founding director of the Center for the Study of Race and Democracy at Arizona State University.
Time magazine recently announced the selection of President Barack Obama as its Person of the Year. It did so, for a second time, because, as Richard Stengel argued in his editorial preface, “We are in the midst of historic cultural and demographic changes, and Obama is both the symbol and in some ways the architect of this new America.” Obama is Time’s Person of the Year, he wrote, “for finding and forging a new majority, for turning weakness into opportunity and for seeking, amid great adversity, to create a more perfect union.”
Indeed, Arizona State University’s Center for the Study of Race and Democracy for years has studied the “Age of Obama” and foretold the influence of America’s stunning demographic changes. February, Black History Month, presents us with an opportunity to pause and reflect upon these changes and what they mean for a society still grappling with race and pluralism.
Blackness, as personified by the Obama family, embodies the type of hybridity that defines all Americans. We are a fusion of humanity, but Obama’s ascendency has helped educate millions about just how diverse we are. Thanks to Obama, we see that Blackness, and a diverse racial lineage, are not antithetical. In fact, multiraciality is what helps to make African-Americans who we are....
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