Faculty Spotlight: Melissa Harris-Lacewell

Faculty Spotlight: Melissa Harris-Lacewell

Center for African American Studies
Princeton University
Spring 2008 Newsletter
Pages 6-7

Dara-Lyn Shrager

Melissa Harris-Lacewell smiles broadly when asked about Senator Barack Obama’s run for the democratic nomination for President. She is clearly a fan of both the man and his campaign.  As a former Chicagoan, who lived in the state while Obama was first a State Senator and then a US Senator, Harris-Lacewell considers herself an Obama supporter.  After just a few minutes spent chatting with Harris-Lacewell in her cozy Corwin Hall office, I realize how lucky Obama – or anyone for that matter – would be to find Harris-Lacewell on his side. She is a veritable storm of intelligent exuberance, possessing equal parts charm and determination. I left our meeting as a fan and supporter of Melissa Harris-Lacewell.

Q. What do you make of the criticism that Obama is not really black?

R. It’s wrong. Americans are really stupid about race, partly because we live so far apart from each other. Black people have always been a mixed race but whites cannot say this about themselves.  Doubting his authenticity as a black candidate means that white people cannot feel good about supporting him because he’s not really black. That’s ridiculous.  It also discredits his ability to make claims on the black resistance movements and other important issues.  Obama has actively promoted himself as someone onto whom we can cast our own understandings. His race is something of a blank slate onto which we can project our own hopes, dreams and desires…

Read the entire interview here.

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