DePaul University College of Law Distinguished Research Professor Terry Smith's new book, Barack Obama, Post-Racialism, and the New Politics of Triangulation, examines black voters’ relationship to the political process and to the first black president in a prematurely post-racial America.
Using interviews with members of the Congressional Black Caucus, empirical data, news accounts, academic literature and case law, Professor Smith argues that the price of black electoral success outside of traditional majority-minority settings has become the triangulation of the post-racial black politician’s African-American constituency. The book is broad-ranging in its examination of how black politics has become so susceptible to marginalization even in a nation governed by its first black president. It also brings attention to the electoral calibration that post-racial black politicians such as Obama must perform between identifying with black-centric concerns and retaining the support of white voters who are averse to race talk, even when it is in the name of racial equality.
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Professor Terry Smith embarked on a career in teaching and voting rights scholarship
after graduating from New York University Law School, where he was a Patricia Roberts Harris Fellow, clerking for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit, and practicing law in Washington, D.C. A nationally recognized expert on voting rights, his scholarship has appeared in the Columbia Law Review, Duke Law Journal and North Carolina Law Review, among others. Professor Smith's opinion pieces have appeared in the New York Times, Huffington Post, Philadelphia Inquirer, Los Angeles Times and Providence Journal.
"In a sea of nonsensical post-racial hoopla, Professor Smith brings to the fore the 'new politics of triangulation,' which he describes as 'the 'third way' between liberalism and conservatism.' Obama, accordingly, does not represent racial progress but a new and perhaps more problematic phase of phenotypical rather than substantive representation for people of color in the polity. My hope is that this book helps progressives and people of color understand once and for all that politicians should be judged not by the color of their skin but by the content of their politics!"
-- Eduardo Bonilla-Silva, Professor of Sociology, Duke University, and author of Racism Without Racists
"Terry Smith has written an insightful book on post-racialism in Obama’s America. Despite the election of the country’s first African-American president, the United States continues to experience racial disparities, and political and social inequality. The author makes clear than as a "race-averse" president, Obama poses serious challenges for voters from many different backgrounds, including black voters. I would recommend this book to all those interested in understanding racial politics and the costs of electoral triangulation."
-- Darrell M. West, Vice President and Director of Governance Studies, Brookings Institution
"Terry Smith sets out to illustrate how African-Americans have fared in a post-racial triangulation society. He is critical of the triangulation theory, yet provides a balanced critique filled with statistics and further evidence of its impact on the African-American community. He exposes judicial and political hypocrisy in the unpleasant realities regarding race, politics and money. It is an act of courage to describe the harsh truth of disparities in the African-American community economically, socially and politically, yet Terry Smith does all these things well."
-- Gilda R. Daniels, Associate Professor, University of Baltimore School of Law, and former Deputy Chief of the U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Voting Section