chapter  5
39 Pages

Barack Obama and the Erasure of Race

ByEric Cheyfitz

This chapter traces the history of Barack Obama's repudiation of the Reverend Wright's two sermons in the 2008 Philadelphia speech Obama gave on race, which marks Obama's commitment to the exceptionalist narrative. It begins with a reading of Obama's 1995 memoir Dreams From My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance, first published a year before Obama embarked on his political career and began to erase race as a topic for scrutiny. One can see this erasure in progress in Obama's next book, published when he was a senator from Illinois, his 2006 The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream, the primary title of which (The Audacity of Hope) he takes with barely an attribution from one of Reverend Wright's sermons ("The Audacity to Hope") that made a significant impact on his thinking, as he writes in Dreams From My Father.