Earl Ofari Hutchinson on Obama the Non-Racial Centrist

Algernon Austin presents an excellent, concise, and wonderfully read scholarly examination of the complicated landscape of race, class and popular perception. Besides the prison industrial complex, black strides in education, poverty rates, crime and other indices contradict claims that blacks are “moving backward.”
--Jeffrey O. G. Ogbar, Director, Institute for African American Studies, University of Connecticut and author of Black Power: Radical Politics and African American Identity (The Johns Hopkins University Press), 2004 and Hip-Hop Revolution: The Culture and Politics of Rap (University Press of Kansas), 2007.

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"But even if Obama were not faced with towering crises that have nothing to do with race, ethnicity and special interest demands, he still would hew tightly to a moderate centrist path in his staff and cabinet picks. The tipoff of that was his campaign. There was, and could not have been, the slightest racial or confrontational edge to it. That was absolutely crucial to win over doubting centrist, and conservative independents. In the early stages of the campaign they leaned tenuously to McCain. But Obama's pitch that he'd put priority emphasis on tax and economic aid to the middle-class proved decisive in tipping the vote scale in his favor.

"This was no accident. Though Obama publicly distanced himself from Bill Clinton's conservative Democratic Leadership Council. He still hewed closely to the template that Clinton and the DLC laid out for Democrats to win elections.

"That is talk of strong defense, the war against terrorism, a vague plan for winding down the Iraq War, tax reform, a tame plan for affordable health care and the sub-prime lending crisis, and the economic resuscitation of mid-America. This non-racial, centrist pitch does not threaten or alienate the white middle-class. Meanwhile, Obama was virtually silent on issues such as racial profiling, affirmative action, housing and job discrimination, the racial disparities in prison sentencing, and the HIV/AIDS epidemic, failing inner city schools, ending the racially-marred drug sentencing policy, and his Supreme Court appointments."

Read the full op-ed.