‘Mutts like Me’: Multiracial Students’ Perceptions of Barack Obama

‘Mutts like Me’: Multiracial Students’ Perceptions of Barack Obama

Qualitative Sociology
Volume 35, Number 2 (2012)
pages 183-200
DOI: 10.1007/s11133-012-9226-4

Michael P. Jeffries, Assistant Professor of American Studies
Wellesley College, Wellesley, Massachusetts

Existent sociological studies of multiracialism in the United States focus on identity construction, the cultural and legislative battle over multiracial categorization, and the implications of demographic shifts towards an increasingly “mixed race” population. This article engages literature from each of these areas, and uses data from in-depth interviews with self-identified multiracial students to document their perceptions of President Barack Obama and trace the symbolic boundaries of multiracial identity. Interviews are specifically directed towards the influence of race on Obama’s identity management and political career, the relationship between Obama and respondents’ multiracial identity, and Obama’s impact on America’s racial history. Respondents hold favorable opinions of the President despite his inconsistent affirmation of multiracial identity. They believe that emphasis on Obama’s blackness rather than multiracialism is the unfortunate result of both personal choices and political pressures. In addition, the cohort insists that racism remains is a major factor in Obama’s career and in America at large.

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