Princeton University Professor Eddie S. Glaude’s book Democracy In Black: How Race Still Enslaves the American Soul is a particularly enlightening explanation of what ails America, in this post racial era, and why some black scholars – Cornel West and Michael Eric Dyson to name just two – take a less charitable view of Barack Obama’s presidency. Glaude begins by identifying why America is not post racial and what needs to be done to directly address our social disease. He says that there is a value gap in America where black people are valued less than whites. This not news but he quotes Malcom X when he says we should “tell what kind of hell we’ve been catching.” I take that to mean a full explanation of how white supremacy is employed and its effects. The lynchings, sexual exploitation of black women, denial of participation in the job market, police killings of black citizens, etc.
Glaude tells a frightful but familiar story of how his college age son was threatened by two white police officers for sitting on a park bench in a white neighborhood. I could feel the anger of his words at the idea of how close the son of a man, just elected as president of the American Academy of Religion, was killed for occupying a park bench working on a class project.
Glaude says that we need to bring our ideas about black people out into the open. This is the only way to change policies and make structural changes. Scholars like Glaude have argued that Obama, only when he could not avoid it, openly address structural racism. I highly recommend this book as it is a counterweight to the unqualified praise many progressives give President Obama.