Howard Winant on Obama

I love Howard Winant. Some years back I read Racial Formation in the United States (co-authored by Michael Omi) and declared Winant and Omi the rock stars of sociology. I actually talked with Winant* briefly at some cocktail meet-and-greet thing and he is fascinating and brilliant, plus he seems genuinely nice. I don’t entirely agree with this article, but it’s an interesting read:

Obama Navigates the Home Stretch

We haven’t seen much anger from him yet, maybe a bit in his repudiation of Wright, but his chief emotion then seemed to be sadness. Obama needs to develop some serious and articulate anger at the powers that be. He’d better do it fast. Can a black man get angry in a national election? Can he channel the righteous indignation of America, not just black but also white? Can he represent BOTH class resentment AND racial tolerance? America’s future depends on the answer to that question.

*one of these days I’m going to write about my encounters with the famous.

**he also asked me if I knew Michael Omi. Heh.

5 thoughts on “Howard Winant on Obama

  1. I guess what I disagree with in this article is the idea that Wright should have stopped speaking truth to power so that Obama could win the election — but the most important thing, to me, isn’t that Obama wins the election. It’s that America gets started cleaning out that massive collection of skeletons in its closet. I’d rather know that Obama is a coward and a turncoat NOW before he gets in the White House and I expect him to make real changes to America. If he thinks pointing out Hiroshima or discrimination is hateful or old school then let me find that out before I get to the ballot, because, really, I don’t care if Obama is a brown skinned Democrat with slightly curly hair — he can talk about hope and change all he wants but unless he’s willing to confront the white power structure he’s no good to me or America. Winant seems to be saying Wright should have kept his eyes on the prize, but I think Winant forgot what the prize is.

  2. Yeah, this part gave me pause:

    Obama properly denounced Wright fiercely and thoroughly this time. Wright had not only betrayed his leader; he had arrogantly abandoned the quest for a new democratic racial politics.

    I’m not sure what Winant means by a “new democratic racial politics.” But I thought Obama denouncing Wright did not ring true.

    The question this raises for me, though, is whether it is worth it to keep all the “race stuff” under the radar in the hopes of election and then making change.

  3. Yes, I agree that that’s an important question, resistance. Keeping all under the radar, though, may be the only hope for serious change from on high. I have guarded faith in Obama, a hope (yes) that his early days in community activism consisted of sincere work that’s stuck with him, and that would guide his the racially significant aspects of his domestic policies (what am I saying–all aspects of domestic policy are racially significant).

    Thanks for the link to Winant, good to see such a smart prof writing at Arianna’s joint.

    By the way, I gave you an E! award today–thanks for all that you do here!

    http://stuffwhitepeopledo.blogspot.com/2008/05/act-all-humble-and-stuff.html

  4. Yes, I agree that that’s an important question, resistance. Keeping all under the radar, though, may be the only hope for serious change from on high. I have guarded faith in Obama, a hope (yes) that his early days in community activism consisted of sincere work that’s stuck with him, and that would guide his the racially significant aspects of his domestic policies (what am I saying–all aspects of domestic policy are racially significant).

    Thanks for the link to Winant, good to see such a smart prof writing at Arianna’s joint.

    By the way, I gave you an E! award today–thanks for all that you do here!

    http://stuffwhitepeopledo.blogspot.com/2008/05/act-all-humble-and-stuff.html

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