AAPSS, Fellows|

rogers-smith-s-2011-book.480.700.sThis month, Rogers Smith, 2011 Theodore Roosevelt Fellow of the AAPSS and Christopher H. Browne Distinguished Professor of Political Science at the University of Pennsylvania, published with Princeton University Press Still a House Divided: Race and Politics in Obama’s America (with Desmond S. King).

The book opens with a look back at the history that Obama has “inherited”: “The leaders of America’s founding generation,” it recalls “knew well that of all the challenges they faced, slavery and racial equality most profoundly threatened their efforts to make the aspiration expressed in the new national motto a reality. In response, many strove…to keep those issues as remote from the national agenda as possible. …Abraham Lincoln invoked a different biblical passage … to argue that when it came to slavery, policies of evasion and compromise could not long endure: ‘a house divided against itself cannot stand.'”

Race and racial inequality in the age of Obama has once again taken center stage in the world of politics and scholarship, with many arguing that America is now a postracial society. A recent issue of The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, “Race, Racial Attitudes, and Stratification Beliefs,” counters this claim with contributions from many prominent scholars on issues such as “color-blind racism”, “The Obama Effect” on white racial attitudes, and the perceived relationship between race and lawbreaking behavior. Lawrence Bobo, author (with Victor R. Thompson) of “Thinking about Crime: Race and Lay Accounts of Lawbreaking Behavior” in the May 2011 volume of The Annals, says in his review of King and Smith’s book that the book “deftly lays to rest the idea of postracialism in American politics” and that “King and Smith make a compelling case that competing visions over the role of race continue to define the core of American political life. …”

So as America approaches the 2012 presidential elections, what are Americans to do if their country is “still a house divided” and “a house divided against itself cannot stand”?

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