“At This Defining Moment”: Barack Obama’s Presidential Candidacy and the New Politics of Race

“At This Defining Moment”: Barack Obama’s Presidential Candidacy and the New Politics of Race

New York University Press
October 2011
229 pages
Hardback ISBN: 9780814752975
Paperback ISBN: 9780814752982

Enid Lynette Logan, Associate Professor of Sociology
University of Minnesota, Minneapolis

In January 2009, Barack Obama became the 44th president of the United States.  In the weeks and months following the election, as in those that preceded it, countless social observers from across the ideological spectrum commented upon the cultural, social and political significance of “the Obama phenomenon.” In “At this Defining Moment,” Enid Logan provides a nuanced analysis framed by innovative theoretical insights to explore how Barack Obama’s presidential candidacy both reflected and shaped the dynamics of race in the contemporary United States.

Using the 2008 election as a case study of U.S. race relations,  and based on a wealth of empirical data that includes an analysis of over 1,500 newspaper articles, blog postings, and other forms of public speech collected over a 3 year period, Logan claims that while race played a central role in the 2008 election, it was in several respects different from the past. Logan ultimately concludes that while the selection of an individual African American man as president does not mean that racism is dead in the contemporary United States, we must also think creatively and expansively about what the election does mean for the nation and for the evolving contours of race in the 21st century.  


  • Acknowledgments
  • 1. Introduction: The Landscape of Race in the 21st Century
  • 2. Post-race American Triumphalism and the Entrenchment of Colorblind Racial Ideology
  • 3. Rooted in the Black Community but Not Limited to It: The Perils and Promises of the New Politics of Race
  • 4. Contesting Gender and Race in the 2008 Democratic Primary
  • 5. The Trope of Race in Obama’s America
  • 6. Asian and Latino Voters in the 2008 Election: The Politics of Color in the Racial Middle
  • 7. In Defense of the White Nation: The Modern Conservative Movement and the Discourse of Exclusionary Nationalism
  • 8. Racial Politics under the First Black President
  • Notes
  • References
  • Index
  • About the Author
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