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Barack Obama Impact on the American Society - Essay Example

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­ Race is part of America, and understandably race is and for most of his life been an important aspect of the life of Barack Obama, America’s president. His contact with race has been even more complicated than most others because of the wide array of ways race has played a role in his life…
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Barack Obama Impact on the American Society
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Barack Obama Impact on the American Society

Download file to see previous pages... As such, the “Nigrescence Model,” a model for the acquisition of Black identity created by William E. Cross Jr., does not quite fit his life, and in some ways his life shows that the Nigrescence model is something of an over-simplification. While he does identifiably go through every stage of the Nigrescence model, Barack Obama demonstrates that this model is also an incredible over-simplification of African American life. Barack Obama’s experience of racial identity though his early life mirrors aspects of Cross’s Nigrescence model relatively closely. He clearly experienced stage one, the “Pre-experience” stage, wherein a person is not quite aware of the existence or importance of racial identity. He discusses how when he was a child, he “barely registered” the fact that his “father looked nothing like the people around [him] – that he was as black as pitch” (Obama, 10). At this very early stage of his childhood he was barely cognizant of skin color, much less race as a social construct and what the difference between his mother’s skin “white as milk” and his father’s “black as pitch” skin could mean (10). This clearly represents the first stage of Nigresence as described by Cross’s model. ...
ant to take on identifying features of ‘blackness.’ He said that his white friends “treated us [Obama and a black friend named Ray] any differently from how they treated each other” (82). In this passage Obama clearly shows both that he is aware of his race and that he understands it is supposed to have identifying features. Following that, however, things get more complicated. In the third stage of Nigresence a person is supposed to take on the identifying elements of his or her race, and Obama did show that he did this to some degree. He talks about enacting a “bad-assed nigger pose” around his white friends, but also thinks that maybe he should “give it a rest” because his friends seemed to treat him no differently because of his race (82). Barack, as a bi-racial person, was trying to acquire and enact two different sets of racial identities, two “worlds that each possessed their own language and customs and greetings” but that he hoped would “eventually cohere” (82). So even though Obama did enact elements of the third stage, even though he was consciously aware of the performative aspects of them, he also was in the fourth stage simultaneously. In the fourth stage someone is supposed to break out of their individual group and start noticing characteristics of other groups, and start to take on the ones that suit one’s personality. Obama never had the luxury of purely immersing himself in one group, because he was always “suspect” to both white and black friends; he would sometimes feel too white for black people and too black for white people. He clearly spent a long time struggling with his own race and identity, but more often with what perceptions of his race and identity meant to others. By the close of Dreams from my Father, ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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