October 17, 2008

Posted: 08:00 PM ET

Educated white voters followed suit, though Obama has had a far more difficult time effectively wooing working class white voters.
That has to do in large part with the effective, if cynical, effort of conservative activists to falsely paint Obama as an unpatriotic figure who pals around with terrorists because he is secretly a Muslim. The manipulation of the public image of Obama as a subversive presence who hates the nation rests on racially coded inferences about unreliable blackness as it tinges the face of American politics. Few quarters in American life have been tolerant of the complex black identities that constitute African American communities.
As a result, a punishing and narrow range of stereotypes have obscured the fact that black struggle for social equality and racial justice was never antithetical to the best interests of the nation. Because black people loved the nation so much, they fought hard to make sure that it lived up to the true meaning of its creed, as Martin Luther King said.
Barack Obama represents both the maturing of black American politics, and the increased willingness of significant portions of the white population to embrace a worthy black presidential candidate. Whether that is sufficient to propel Obama to the presidency remains to be seen. Still I am cautiously hopeful that it is.

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON
Professor, Georgetown University

Michael Eric Dyson's commentary is an LKL Blog Exclusive

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