A Bound Man: Why We Are Excited About Obama and Why He Can't Win
Shelby Steele examines the challenges that Barack Obama must overcome in his bid to become President of the United States in A Bound Man: Why We Are Excited About Obama and Why He Can't Win. Having to cater to both black voters and white voters in what binds Obama, and his dilemma is that he achieved visibility more as a racial icon than as an individual. In his analysis, Shelby Steele discusses his own mixed race background, and he empathizes with Obama's inner conflicts even as he critiques him. He also identifies the two 'masks' that blacks wear in order to seek success and power in the American mainstream: bargaining and challenging, and he argues that Obama is too constrained by divisive racial politics to find his own true political voice - and proposes a way for him to break those bonds and find his own voice.
Shelby Steele is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and the author of The Content of Our Character and White Guilt, and a contributing editor at Harper's; his work has also appeared in numerous other magazines and newspapers- Cody's Books
Shelby Steele is the Robert J. and Marion E. Oster Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution. He specializes in the study of race relations, multiculturalism, and affirmative action. He was appointed a Hoover fellow in 1994.
Steele has written widely on race in American society and the consequences of contemporary social programs on race relations.
In 2006, Steele received the Bradley Prize for his contributions to the study of race in America. In 2004, he was awarded the National Humanities Medal. Steele is the author of White Guilt: How Blacks and Whites Together Destroyed the Promise of the Civil Rights Era and most recently A Bound Man: Why We Are Excited About Obama and Why He Can't Win.
Shelby Steele identifies the racial transcendence paradox in the Obama campaign having more to do with the white voting base than with Obama himself. Steele asserts that while Barack Obama does not typically address race in his campaign, his candidacy is based entirely on it.
(born Aug. 4, 1961, Honolulu, Hawaii, U.S.) 44th president of the U.S. (2009 ). Obama graduated from Columbia University (1983) and Harvard Law School (1991), where he was the first African American to serve as president of the Harvard Law Review. He moved to Chicago, where he served as a community organizer and lectured in constitutional law at the University of Chicago before he was elected (1996) to the Illinois Senate as a member of the Democratic Party. In 2004 he was elected to the U.S. Senate and quickly became a major national political figure. In 2008 Obama won an upset victory over former U.S. first ladyHillary Clinton to become the Democratic presidential nominee. He easily defeated Republican candidate John McCain and became the first African American president. In 2009 he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.
he's right in the sense, that more white people voted for him than blacks, but it was not really relevant. I noticed hardly anybody knew he was black for the first year or so, then when his momentum grew, that's when people noticed
Steele argued that "Obama is too constrained by divisive racial politics to find his own true political voice" in January 2008. He was proven wrong by the Philadelphia speech exactly two months later.
After the campaign, Steele alluded to the subtitle of his book as "a marketing device." But he still maintains the argument that Obama won by donning the "bargainer's mask."
I wonder what it takes for someone to be proven so thoroughly wrong to get it?
Seeing as Obama has been elected in a landslide; I've been having a lot of fun the last few days listening to and reading scholarly dissertation-esque lectures on why Obams couldn't possible win. Just one more reason why I don't automaticaly trust the word of authority. On any matter. You always have to question it.
A constructive critique is a favor to the one who is beeing criticised. Steele´s prediction might have been wrong: this was a totally new campaign, on both sides red or blue. But there is substance in Steele´s observations and any smart person would take a good note of it to see beyond circumstances . That these circumstances are historical make it even more important.
It would be really interesting if Steele performed an act of intellectual honesty and wrote about what the victory of Obama means to his rigid framework for race relations in America.
As George Will wrote not too long after the book came out, Steele's elaborate framework is based on a misunderstanding of Obama's identity which, unlike his, is not obsessed with a binary perspective (white/black) of race.
I wonder if Steele, in his act of intellectual honesty, could track the steps of Obama in a multiracial Hawaii and the foreign diversity of Indonesia to see whether his fixation on black masking applies to the young people that grow up today without the torment of history.
But I suspect, as his post election column in the LA Times reveals, a large part of this book (besides the "Obama" title which surely helped publicize and monetize) had to do with differences in political ideology - Steele's of course as a conservative.
Honesty is difficult, especially when one has to admit they are wrong, but I'm hoping there are enough conservative values in Steele to make this more of a value than the royalty dollars from his book.
Mr.Steele is fast becoming an anachronism.His agonizing over racism is not shared by new generations of Americans who have moved beyond black and white, masks, guilt,
and anything else he identifies as being part of the separation
of people because of color.
Younger Americans are
connecting on a human level that has no relevance to skin pigmentation.Their children of mixed race are just children
and are not living with all the old labels Mr.Steele identifies for Oprah,Cosby,Jordan etc.These labels don't apply to Obama either and Americans don't see his race but se his face-his real face,the only face he has.He doesn't need anything else,doesn't want anything else and wouldn't know what to do with it if he had it.
Mr.Steele hasn't caught up with any of this yet, and discusses Obama like
he discusses Cosby.
Americans are rapidly reaching a place where "uncle tom" means nothing anymore
and kowtowing to whites by blacks doesn't happen because it belongs to a forgotten past.This is rapidly happening in an America being changed by so many racial ethnicities,color is just swept aside.