The 2008 election of President Barack Obama represents a halcyon moment in U.S. history. President Obama’s election begs a critical question: whether his nationwide landslide victory catapulted the United States, with its sordid racial past, into a truly post-racial place as many claim. While Obama’s election was possible due to important changes that have taken place in the United States in the past fifty years, the reality is that profound disparities continue to exist between minority and white Americans that show no sign of dissipating during this Obama presidency. Of these profound disparities, some of the most striking include those in the United States prison population, where 55% of all federal prisoners are African American while only 13% of the U.S. population is black. Further, the academic achievement gap between blacks and whites persists even for the black middle class, continuing to fuel theories of white supremacy and black inferiority. In a society where 74% of black Americans have personally experienced racial discrimination and where 76% of African Americans believe that they do not receive equal treatment from the police, the claim of post-racialism rings hollow.
In arguing that much hard work remains before Americans can authentically claim a post-racial arrival, this Essay examines the recent 2008 financial market crisis as well as several recent isolated instances of American racial disharmony (Henry Louis Gates, Shirley Sherrod and Jordan Miles), in order to lay bare any post-racial claim.
andré douglas pond cummings, Post Racialism?, 14 J. Gender Race & Just. 601 (2011).