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2016-2017 PLACE Theme: Race and Ethnicity: The Black Presidency

Resource Guide for PLACE

About the Book

Michael Eric Dyson explores the powerful, surprising way the politics of race have shaped Barack Obama’s identity and groundbreaking presidency. How has President Obama dealt publicly with race—as the national traumas of Tamir Rice, Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Freddie Gray, and Walter Scott have played out during his tenure? What can we learn from Obama's major race speeches about his approach to racial conflict and the black criticism it provokes? 

Dyson explores whether Obama’s use of his own biracialism as a radiant symbol has been driven by the president’s desire to avoid a painful moral reckoning on race. And he sheds light on identity issues within the black power structure, telling the fascinating story of how Obama has spurned traditional black power brokers, significantly reducing their leverage. 

President Obama’s own voice—from an Oval Office interview granted to Dyson for this book—along with those of Eric Holder, Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, Andrew Young, and Maxine Waters, among others, add unique depth to this profound tour of the nation’s first black presidency.

Editorial Reviews

“Readers will recognize Dyson's practiced flair for language and metaphor as he makes an important and layered argument about American political culture and the narrowness of presidential speech...[T]he book ably maintains a sharp critical edge...[The Black Presidency] might well be considered an interpretive miracle.”
New York Times Book Review

“An enlightening work...incisive criticisms....Dyson  reinterprets some soaring moments in the Obama race canon...Dyson reconsiders [the post racial debate] in memorable terms and points to the pitfalls inherent in the concept. [Dyson offers] as sharp a distillation of white privilege as you'll ever read.”
Washington Post

“For a fuller explanation of the relationship between Obama and black America, Michael Eric Dyson’s The Black Presidency is indispensable.”
The New Statesman

“Michael Eric Dyson combines cutting-edge theoretical acuity with the passionate, engaged, and accessible stance of a public intellectual.”
Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

“Immensely engaging, unflinchingly honest, and appropriately provocative, Michael Eric Dyson proves, once again, that he is without peer when it comes to contextualizing race in 21st-century America. The Black Presidency is a must-read for anyone who wants to better understand America’s racial past, present, and future, as well as an urgent and vital contribution to any serious discussion of race in the waning moments and aftermath of Barack Obama’s time in office.”
Gilbert King, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Devil in the Grove 
  

“Dyson succeeds admirably in creating a base line for future interpretations of this historic presidency. His well-written book thoroughly illuminates the challenges facing a black man elected to govern a society that is far from post-racial.”
Kirkus, Starred Review

About the Author

Michael Eric Dyson  is an American academic, author, and radio host. He is a professor of Sociology at Georgetown University.[2] Described by Michael A. Fletcher as "a Princeton Ph.D. and a child of the streets who takes pains never to separate the two",[3] Dyson has authored or edited 18 books dealing with subjects such as Malcolm XMartin Luther King, Jr.Marvin GayeNas's debut album IllmaticBill CosbyTupac Shakur and Hurricane Katrina.

Dyson has taught at Chicago Theological SeminaryBrown University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel HillColumbia UniversityDePaul University, and the University of Pennsylvania.[3] Since 2007, he has been a Professor of Sociology at Georgetown University. His 1994 book Making Malcolm: The Myth and Meaning of Malcolm X became a New York Times notable book of the year.[10] In his 2006 book Come Hell or High Water: Hurricane Katrina and the Color of Disaster, Dyson analyzes the political and social events in the wake of the catastrophe against the backdrop of an overall "failure in race and class relations".[11][12][13] In 2010, Dyson edited Born to Use Mics: Reading Nas's Illmatic, with contributions based on the album’s tracks by, among others, Kevin Coval, Kyra D. Gaunt ("Professor G"), dream hamptonMarc Lamont HillAdam Mansbach, and Mark Anthony Neal.[14] Dyson's own essay in this anthology, "'One Love,' Two Brothers, Three Verses", argues that the current US penal system disfavors young black males more than any other segment of the population.[15][16] Dyson hosted a radio show, which aired on Radio One, from January 2006 to February 2007. He was also a commentator on National Public Radio and CNN, and is a regular guest on Real Time with Bill Maher. Beginning July 2011 Michael Eric Dyson became a political analyst for MSNBC.

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