thai black politicians from Booker T. Washington in the Reconstruction era to contemporaries like Douglas Wilder and David Dinkins employ to appear "non- threatening" and thereby elect-able lo the white middle class (Marable, 1990, p. 24). The cases of Douglas Wilder, the first black govemor of Virginia, and David Dinkins, the first black mayor of New York City, are especially significant because they illuminate this rhe- torical practice at work: "rather than denying ihe reality of race. Wilder and Dinkins sought to 'transcend' the color line, offering generous platitudes of how racism had supposedly declined in significance during the 1980s" (Marable. 1990. p. 28). While both of these men won their positions. Marable (1990) cautions that the accommodation strategy may do more harm than good: "the strategy of declaring victory against racial prejudice may produce some short-term victories, but it will only reinforce white supremacy within the electoral process in the long run" (p. 28).
The final rhetorical strategy of raced candidates is the post-racial approach. Harris (2009) best explains this "race-neutral" rhetoric:
Fearful that while voters would be turned off by policy positions that steered too closely to black interests, black candidates running before majority or near-majority white constituencies have to adopt campaign strategies that deemphasize race. These strategies deemphasize or neglect discussions about racism but take up the banner of racial unity and public policies that appeal to ail citizens as a way to allay the concents of white voters, (p. 43)
Political agents like Harold Washington, Chicago's first black mayor in 1983, Cory Booker, mayor of New- ark. New Jersey in 2006, and Deval Patrick, govemor of Massachusetts in 2(X)6, have successfully employed this strategy to win their offices. In his inaugural address, after a viscous campaign season (CBS), Washington ( 1983) announced, "Racial fears and divisiveness have hurt us in the past. But I believe that this is a situation that will and must be overcome." Similarly, Booker (2009) adopted a post-racial perspective in his State of the City address in which he repeatedly declared, "we will rise" (p. 1) to the residents of Newark, New Jersey. Patrick summed up his post-racial position in his campaign slogan, "together we can" (as cited in Ifill, 2009, p. 194). However, just as Marable (1990) warns about the long-term impact of a neo-accommodationist perspective, Harris (2009) cautions that "while [the post-racial approach] can be a winnable strategy for black candidates running in state-wide and national
campaigns, it often leaves issues that are specific to the concerns of black voters off the public agenda" (p. 43). Unlike the Jackson model, post-racial political rhetoric does not outwardly address the role of race in politics and society, and unlike the neo-accommodationist angle, post-racial discourse does not declare racism defeated. However, both the neo-accomodationist and post-racial approaches mimic the political-personal crisis resolution strategy of briefiy addressing race and attempting to transcend it.
It has been widely argued that Barack Obama is a post-racial candidate who speaks in universal terms so as to have the greatest rhetorical appeal (Burnside & Whitehurst, 2007; Frank & McPhaii. 2005; Fraser, 2009; Hill, 2009; Ifill, 2009; Mazama. 2009; Roediger, 2008: Rowland & Jones, 2007: Walters. 2007). Obama himself uflimied thi.s perspective. In an interview on National Public Radio, Obama explained that "there has always been some tension between speaking in universal terms and speaking in very race-specific terms about the plight of the African American com- munity. By virtue of my background, I am more likely lo speak in universal term.s" (as cited in Walters, 2007, pp. 13-14). When describing how Obama addressed his background, journalist Gwen Ifill (2009) notes, "He did not deny his race, but he generally didn't bring it up either" (p. 54). In 2007, another reporter, Tom Baldwin for the Times of London, observes that Obama "did not make a single reference to the color of his skin....Not once did the words 'black' or "African-American' pass Mr. Obama's lips" in his announcement of candidacy speech (as cited in Walters, 2007, p. 19). Perhaps best summing up the perspectives on Obama as a po.st- racial candidate, though, was a black Obama pollster who once mused, "'A hlack man can't be president of America. However, an extraordinary, gifted, and talented young man who happens to be black can be president"' (as cited in Ifill. 2009, p. 54).
While effective in some spheres, the post-racial approach is roundly criticized in other camps because the perspective ignores the unique concerns of the black community. It attempts to transcend race without transcending racial inequality (Roediger, 2008, p. 3). Mazama (2009) argues that the notion of transcend- ing race may be inherently racist because non-raced candidates are never asked or expected to do so (p. 3). Frank and McPhail (2005) read Obama's 2004 concilia- tory Democratic National Convention (DNC) speech, for example, as "an old vision of racelessness" that appealed to "rhetorics of whiteness and modem rac- ism" (pp. 572-573). Professor of Religion and African
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