Analysis: Parallels to country's racist past haunt age of Obama

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In a CNN article titled "Parallels to country's racist past haunt age of Obama" by John Blake, the issue of racism in politics is addressed in a manner that attempts to remove stereotypes and racist attitudes, yet reverts back to somewhat racist terms.

The author, John Blake, uses words that address the color of skin the subject has, but not in a sense that evoke racism or a sense of segregation. At the beginning of the article, Blake only uses the term "African-American," as shown here, "The man was an African-American of mixed-race heritage, an eloquent speaker whose election was hailed as a reminder of how far America had come. But the man who placed his hand on the Bible that winter day in Washington wasn't Barack Obama. He was Hiram Rhodes Revels, the first African-American elected to the U.S. Senate," Blake said.

Later in the article, however, Blake begins using "white" and "black" to describe the color of the subject's skin. "His election and that of many other African-Americans to public office triggered a white backlash that helped destroy Reconstruction, America's first attempt to build an interracial democracy in the wake of the Civil War." It seems odd that he would use the term African-American and then use "white" but I suppose we don't usually say "caucasian," either.

Blake stops using African-American at the middle of the article and begins using "black," shown here, "The notion that the country is poised to enter a new post-Reconstruction era may seem outlandish, even offensive. That period, known as the Jim Crow era, saw the establishment of American apartheid: segregated public facilities, race riots and white racists murdering blacks and their white allies with impunity."

To gain information, Blake used Ruha Benjamin, an African American studies professor at Boston University, Mark D. Naison, a history professor from Fordham University, Nsenga Burton, a writer for The Root, a website about the African-American perspective and Eric Foner, a Pulitzer Prize-winning author among other authors. Blake's use of several sources shows that he intended to write a well-rounded article with various perspectives.

Blake's inability to stick to one term in the article shows that he would like to use the term that is accepted more by society - African-American - but gets lost in society's norms, thus switching to black instead. Though it is generally okay to use the term black, I believe using that term allows us to revert back to our racist ways as human beings.

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This page contains a single entry by micha444 published on November 18, 2012 10:37 PM.

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