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After ObamaAfrican American Politics in a Post-Obama Era$
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Todd Shaw, Robert A. Brown, and Joseph P. McCormick

Print publication date: 2021

Print ISBN-13: 9781479807277

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: September 2021

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9781479807277.001.0001

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Invitations to the Dance

Invitations to the Dance

The Obama Administration’s Complex Engagement with Black Elected Officials and Advocacy Groups

(p.72) 2 Invitations to the Dance
After Obama

Tyson D. King-Meadows

NYU Press

In this chapter, I argue that the impact of the Obama presidency is best gauged not by examining shortfalls in Obama’s overt advocacy for race conscious policies but, rather, by examining what Obama did to assert that Black representatives should be more concerned about the enactment of legislation that advances Black progress than about credit claiming via overt advocacy. To illustrate, I examine select public speeches by Obama, White House documents, and press accounts to outline the Obama administration’s engagement with the Congressional Black Caucus and other elites over Black unemployment. Subsequent political clashes showcased Black dismay that a Black executive had not delivered tangible race-specific benefits, White fear that a Black president would practice racial favoritism, and an intergovernmental struggle between the executive and legislative branches over who should control employment policy. These clashes best illustrate how the “inclusionary dilemma” required Obama to utilize a complex engagement strategy with Black Americans to navigate Black dismay about job creation and to outline his socio-cultural-economic policy agenda. In the conclusion, I discuss how Obama used his final days in office to prepare the Obama coalition for the Trump presidency and to warn Black voters and Black elites about privileging style over substance.

Keywords:   Obama administration, Congressional Black Caucus, job creation, Black elected official, representation

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