How much has racial prejudice hurt President Obama?

Posted July 11th, 2014 by
Category: Living consequences Tags: , , ,

President Barack ObamaThere are two new studies out on public opinion and voting behavior which shed light on persistent questions about how much racial prejudice hurts black politicians, and in particular, President Obama’s approval ratings and his vote totals in the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections.

The first new study, “The cost of racial animus on a black candidate,” by Seth Stephens-Davidowitz and slated for publication in the October 2014 issue of the Journal of Public Economics, asks a relatively simple question: how much did racial prejudice affect Barack Obama’s vote share?1

Read the rest of this entry »

  1. Seth Stephens-Davidowitz, “The cost of racial animus on a black candidate: Evidence using Google search data,” Journal of Public Economics 118: 26-40 (2014). []

What I hope Obama’s second inaugural will address

Posted January 21st, 2013 by
Category: Public History Tags: , , , , ,

Today marks only the second time that Inauguration Day has coincided with our national holiday commemorating the life of Martin Luther King, Jr., and on this occasion, our first black president will be taking the oath of office for the second time.

Here is what I hope the president will include in his second Inaugural Address:

This year marks the coming together of two powerful anniversaries, the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation and the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington and King’s “I Have a Dream” speech.

Today, 50 years after the civil rights movement and 150 years after the end of slavery, we have come a long way towards realizing the visions of Lincoln and King for a more just and inclusive society. Yet the legacies of slavery and race—the unfinished business of Civil War and civil rights—remain a crisis in our nation.

Read the rest of this entry »


“2012 Don’t Re-Nig”

Posted September 26th, 2012 by
Category: Living consequences Tags: ,

Jacob Philadelphia touching the president's hairLeonard Pitts has another inspiring column this week on our nation’s persistent racial intolerance, based, of all things, on an anti-Obama bumper sticker reading, “2012 Don’t Re-Nig.”

This story isn’t new, with variations of this bumper sticker having been reported in the spring. As usual, however, Pitts manages to take a depressing topic and infuse it with hope for the future, exposing profound bigotry while showing that this bigotry is, in fact, a reaction to powerful and irreversible change for the good.

(Click here to see an image of the bumper sticker.)

Pitts doesn’t pull his punches in discussing the raw bigotry represented by this political slogan. He notes with sensitivity that some white people are experiencing a sense of “racial and cultural dislocation” in the age of a black president. But he quickly adds that for some of “us” the issue isn’t the rapidly changing racial landscape, but “just the same old hate as always.”

Read the rest of this entry »


Goodwin Liu re-nominated to 9th Circuit

Posted September 14th, 2010 by
Category: Repair and reparations Tags: , , , ,

James DeWolf Perry is a regular contributor. He appears in the film Traces of the Trade and is the Tracing Center’s interim managing director and director of research. This entry is cross-posted from James’ own blog, The Living Consequences, and the opinions expressed are his own.

The White House announced late yesterday that President Obama has re-nominated Berkeley law professor Goodwin Liu to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

Professor Liu’s nomination became controversial when it was discovered that he had addressed the subject of reparations for slavery on a panel following a special screening of our documentary, Traces of the Trade: A Story from the Deep North, in Washington, D.C. in 2008. Liu’s scholarship has also drawn considerable attention for its intellectual heft and for what conservative senators have declared to be a left-leaning philosophical approach to the law.

Professor Liu was originally nominated to the appellate judgeship in February, and passed the Senate Judiciary Committee on a 12-7 vote. His nomination expired, however, when the Senate recessed in August without having held a full vote.

Professor Liu’s nomination, along with several others who were re-nominated yesterday, must now pass the Senate Judiciary Committee again. A committee meeting has been scheduled for Thursday at which these nominations will be discussed.


Goodwin Liu nomination sent back to White House

Posted August 7th, 2010 by
Category: Repair and reparations Tags: , , , ,

James DeWolf Perry is a regular contributor. He appears in the film Traces of the Trade and is the Tracing Center’s director of research. This entry is cross-posted from James’ own blog, The Living Consequences, and the opinions expressed are his own.

President Obama’s nomination of controversial law professor Goodwin Liu to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit has been blocked by Senate Republicans and returned to the White House.

Professor Liu became the subject of controversy in late March, in part due to remarks he made on a panel convened to discuss our documentary, Traces of the Trade: A Story from the Deep North. That evening, in response to the topic of reparations for slavery, Liu observed that any effort to  compensate for our nation’s history of slavery and racial discrimination would inevitably require trade-offs which would diminish the privileges enjoyed by people who benefit from that history today.

Read the rest of this entry »


Reparations and African complicity in the slave trade

Posted April 23rd, 2010 by
Category: Repair and reparations Tags: , , ,

James DeWolf Perry is a regular contributor. He appears in the film Traces of the Trade and is the Tracing Center’s director of research. This entry is cross-posted from James’ own blog, The Living Consequences, and the opinions expressed are his own.

Professor Henry Louis (“Skip”) Gates, Jr. has an op-ed in this morning’s New York Times in which he takes on the issue of reparations for slavery.

Gates will, no doubt, attract enough controversy for his general approach to the issue. He is convinced that our society must address the issue of reparations, and that we must reach a “just and lasting agreement,” which he believes will have to be “a judicious (if symbolic) gesture to match such a sustained, heinous crime.”

Remarks like these will land any public intellectual in the U.S. in hot water these days. Just consider the case of Goodwin Liu, whose mild remarks related to reparations at one of our events in 2008 became a central issue in his nomination by President Obama for a seat on the Ninth Circuit.

However, this essay is most notable for telling difficult truths about the central role of Africans in the transatlantic slave trade, and thus about the shared culpability of people of different races in the resulting history of slavery.

Read the rest of this entry »



Copyright 2010-2017 by the Tracing Center | All Rights Reserved | Website design and coding: James DeW. Perry