The Situationist

The Post-Obama Situation of Racism – Abstract

Posted by The Situationist Staff on July 27, 2009

Obama Prisoners - images from FlickrIan Haney-Lopez, has recently posted his thoughtful paper, “Post-Racial Racism: Crime Control and Racial Stratification in the Age of Obama” on SSRN.  Here is the abstract.

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What does the 2008 election of Barack Obama to the United States presidency portend for race in America? This Essay uses the tremendous racial disparities in the American crime control system to assess race and racism as key features of contemporary society. The Essay begins by considering a compelling thesis that racialized mass incarceration stems from backlash to the civil rights movement. If true, this raises the possibility that Obama’s election, potentially marking the end of backlash politics, also represents a likely turning point in the war on crime. The Essay then reconsiders mass imprisonment from the perspective of “racial stratification,” a structural theory that emphasizes the simultaneous formation of racial categories and the misallocation of resources between races. A stratification approach leaves one less sanguine about rapid change in American race relations, though without disparaging either the historic nature of Obama’s inauguration or the possibility of incremental improvements in racial justice. Reflecting the continued need to push for positive racial change, the Essay concludes by arguing morally and politically for a renewed focus on racism, in particular on “post-racial racism.”

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To download the paper for free, click here.  For a sample of related Situationist posts, see “The Situation of the Obama Presidency and Race Perceptions,” “Black History is Now,” The Cognitive Costs of Interracial Interactions,” “Guilt and Racial Prejudice,” “Perceptions of Racial Divide,” “The Situation of Solitary Confinement,” and “Examining Why Estimated “Costs” of Racial Inequality Vary by Race.”

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