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Barack Obama, the Tea Party, and the Threat of Race: On Racial Neoliberalism and Born Again Racism

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This essay engages the racist rhetoric of the U.S. Tea Party and President Barack Obama's (non)response as both emblematic of what David Theo Goldberg and others call racial neoliberalism. While Obama's detractors certainly deserve attention for their invective discourse, Obama also warrants critique for operating within a racially neoliberal discursive field binding him to antiracial (not antiracist) responses to racist discourses. This essay first stakes out the conceptual terrain of racial neoliberalism and addresses the relationship between racial neoliberalism, antiracialism, and racial threat to elucidate its significance for discourse about race. How the Tea Party's racist rhetoric functions and how Obama's reaction further reinforce the hegemony of racial neoliberalism are explained using this critical analytic.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: March 1, 2011

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