What's post racial discourse got to do with it? Obama and implications for multiculturalism in college classrooms

Jennifer Thorington Springer

Abstract


With the election and re-election of Barack Obama as the first Black President of the United States came the vexing yet perhaps expected conclusion that issues of race and ethnicity were no longer grave concerns.  Somehow Obama’s presence suggests the transcendence of race.  While a nod to the political progress made in terms of social race relations may be in order, Obama’s election does not translate into a “color-blind,” “post race” American nation.  This essay explores how current and ongoing conversations about a post race nation shape student perceptions of race and how they directly affect the teaching instruction of professors, like myself, who are invested in multicultural and inclusive pedagogy. As an instructor invested in inclusive learning, my former struggle of getting students to understand the importance of acknowledging the validity of cultural differences has resurfaced as students who buy into the rhetoric of a “post race” nation no longer think it necessary to examine closely racially charged inequities.  Rather than adhere to the problematic ideology of Obama as the embodiment of a “post race” nation, I propose an exploration of his identity and politics as those that encourage fluidity and cultural plurality without denying rightful acknowledgement of race as a viable political reality.


Keywords


Multicultural teaching; inclusion; race; post-race; Barack Obama; black

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.14434/josotl.v14i3.3449