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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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Obama, African American Women, and the Limitations of the Politics of Recognition

Obama, African American Women, and the Limitations of the Politics of Recognition

(p.149) 5 Obama, African American Women, and the Limitations of the Politics of Recognition
After Obama

Wendy G. Smooth

NYU Press

In this chapter, I examine if African American women benefitted from their support of the Obama presidency by using traditional markers of group interests, especially as a key constituency group supporting candidate Obama. I explore the Obama presidency, asking beyond the politics of recognition, Did American women receive the attention from the president that their numbers as voters and early supporters of his presidential run might suggest? If not, why? I explore these questions from four different perspectives. First, I center African American women as the key constituency group that accounted for Obama’s electoral successes and situate what traditionally emerges when groups bear that designation in electoral politics. Second, I examine a range of policy interventions the administration pursued that might have addressed the specific needs of African American women as a distinct group. Third, I explore African American women’s descriptive representation under the Obama administration and whether the Obama administration created unique opportunities for African American women as decision makers in the administration. Finally, I argue that Obama’s failures to adequately address African American women as a critical constituency is explained by critical disconnections in his relationship to Black women.

Keywords:   Obama administration, African American women, politics of recognition, descriptive representation

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