I once gave a talk about racism that was followed by an interesting comment from a middle-aged white man. “You can’t seriously imagine that racism is still a big problem in the United States ,” this man said, “when millions of white Americans are ready to vote for Barack Obama, a black man, for president.”
I once did an article on Obama that elicited the following response from a white Republican science professor in a Detroit suburb: “If Obama gets elected President, it would be a big — probably the biggest since the Emancipation Proclamation — step toward race equality in the U.S. If a half-black man gets elected President,” the professor elaborated, “we could stop focusing so much on race in this country and focus on other things.”
A different essay critical of Obama provoked an angry response from a black man who thought I was African-American. “How can you betray your race like this?” this individual asked. “Why are you undermining a brother with a shot at the most powerful job in the world?” By this writer’s estimation, Obama’s black identity was in itself sufficient reason for a responsible black journalist to swallow any criticisms of the junior Senator from Illinois.
The racial meaning of “the Obama phenomenon” is an interesting question that merits careful consideration. It is significantly more complicated than my three commentators grasped.
Is there anything positive about the fact that droves of whites are willing to embrace a black presidential candidate? Sure. Forty years ago, as the United States entered the racially turbulent summer of 1967 and the movie Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner disturbed conventional racial norms by portraying a black doctor (played by Sidney Poitier) dating a white woman (Joanna Drayton), it would have been impossible for a black politician to become a viable presidential contender. Nothing a black candidate could have done or said would have prevented him from being excluded on the basis of the color of his or her skin. The fact that this is no longer true is a sign of some (admittedly slow) racial progress more than fifty years after the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts. But there are at least three reasons not to get overly excited about Obama’s cross-racial appeal from a racial justice perspective.
“HE’S NOT ALL THAT BLACK”
The first difficulty is that part of Obama’s appeal to white America has to do with the widespread Caucasian sense that Obama “isn’t all that black.” Many whites who roll their eyes at the mention of the names of Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton — former presidential candidates who behave in ways that many whites find too African-American — are by the cool, underplayed blackness and ponderous, quasi-academic tone of the half-white, Harvard-educated Obama. Obama doesn’t shout, chant, holler or drawl. He doesn’t rail against injustice, bring the parishioners to their feet and threaten delicate white suburban and middle-class sensibilities. He stays away from catchy slogans (like Jackson’s “Keep Hope Alive”) and from emotive “truth”-speaking confrontations with power. To use Joe Biden’s revealing terminology, Obama strikes many whites as “clean” and “articulate” — something different from their unfortunately persistent image of blacks as dirty, dangerous, irrational and unintelligible.
Obama has no moral or political obligation to shed his biracial identity, “multicultural” background and elite, private school education to “act [more classically and stereotypically] black.” But whites’ racial attitudes are less progressive than might be assumed when their willingness to embrace a black candidate is conditioned by their requirement that his or her “blackness” be qualified. When ingrained gender sensibilities lead you (all other things equal) to prefer your “straight-acting” gay uncle over your outwardly “effeminate” gay nephew, your tolerance for non-traditional sexual orientations might be less enlightened than you think.
“WHAT AILS BLACKS IS NOT FUNDAMENTALLY DIFFERENT”: ACCOMMODATING RACISM
A second and related reason not to do racial justice cartwheels over Obama’s popularity with whites is the candidate’s deep willingness to accommodate white supremacy. In his ponderous, power-worshipping and badly titled campaign book The Audacity of Hope (Henry Crown, 2006), Obama ignores elementary U.S. social reality and strokes the master race by claiming that “what ails working- and middle-class blacks is not fundamentally different from what ails their white counterparts.” Equally calming to the white majority is Obama’s argument that “white guilt has largely exhausted itself in America” as “even the most fair-minded of whites . . . tend to push back against suggestions of racial victimization and race-based claims based on the history of racial discrimination in this country” (p. 247). Part of the reason for this “push back” — also known as denial — is, Obama claims, the bad culture and poor work ethic of the inner city black poor (Obama 2006, pp. 245, 254-56).
White fears that Obama will reawaken the tragically unfinished revolutions of Reconstruction and Civil Rights are further soothed by his claim that most black Americans have been “pulled into the economic mainstream” (Obama 2006, pp. 248-49). During a speech marking the anniversary of the Selma, Alabama Voting Rights march, Obama claimed that 1950s and 1960s civil rights activists — who he referred to as “the Moses Generation” — had brought black America “90 percent of the way” to racial equality. It’s up to Obama and his fellow “Joshua Generation” members to get past “that 10 percent in order to cross over to the other side” (Barack Obama, 2007)
And then there’s Obama’s claim that “conservatives and Bill Clinton were right about welfare.” The abolished Aid for Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) program, Obama claims, “sapped” inner-city blacks of their “initiative” and detached them from the great material and spiritual gains that flow to those who attach themselves to the noble capitalist labor market, including “independence,” “income,” “order, structure, dignity and opportunity for growth in peoples’ lives”. He argues that encouraging black girls to finish high school and stop having babies out of wedlock is “the single biggest that we could do to reduce inner-city poverty” (Obama 2006p. 256).
Never mind that blacks are afflicted with a shocking racial wealth gap that keeps their average net worth at one eleventh that of whites and an income structure starkly and persistently tilted towards poverty (Loewen 2005, p. 130; Shapiro 2005). Never mind that lower-, working-, and middle-class blacks continue to face numerous steep and interrelated white-supremacist barriers to equality. Or that multidimensional racial discrimination is still rife in “post-Civil Rights America,” deeply woven into the fabric of the nation’s social institutions and drawing heavily on the living and unresolved legacy of centuries of not- so “past” racism (Feagin 2000; Brown et al. 2003, Street 2005; Street 2007),
Never mind that the long centuries of slavery and Jim Crow are still quite historically recent and would continue to exercise a crippling influence on black experience even if the dominant white claim that black “racial victimization” is a “thing of the past” was remotely accurate (Brown et al. 2003; Feagin 2000). Never mind the existence of numerous left Caucasians (e.g. Joe Feagin, Tim Wise, Michael Albert, Stephen Steinberg, yours truly and many more), not to mention a large number of black Americans, who support not simply the “race-based” claims of affirmative actions but the demand for reparations to address the living and powerful legacy of slavery and Jim Crow.
And never mind the absence of social-scientific evidence for the “conservative” claim that AFDC destroyed inner city work ethics or generated “intergenerational poverty.” Forget the existence of numerous studies showing that the absence of decent, minimally well-paid, and dignified work has always been the single leading cause of black inner city poverty and “welfare dependency” (Handler 1995, 32-55; Jencks 1992, 204-235; Stier and Tienda 2001). Disregard research showing that high black teenage pregnancy rates reflect the absence of meaningful long-term life and economic opportunities in the nation’s hyper-segregated inner-city and suburban ring ghettos. Forget that the single biggest thing that could be done to reduce inner city poverty would be to make the simple and elementary moral decision to abolish it through the provision of a decent guaranteed income — something once advocated by Martin Luther King, Jr. and that other dangerous left “moral absolutist” (Obama’s description of 1960s New Left peace and justice activists) Richard Nixon.
Racial hierarchy isn’t the only oppression structure that Senator Obama is willing to eagerly accommodate. As I’ve been arguing for some time now (Street 2004, 2006, 2007a-2007e), he plays the same essential opportunistic and power-worshipping game in relation to related inequality structures of class and empire. Beneath peaceful and populist sounding claims to the contrary, he’s largely on the dark and neoliberal side of power when it comes to each of what the democratic socialist and anti-imperialist Martin Luther King, Jr. called “the triple evils that are interrelated”: racism, economic exploitation/inequality (capitalism), and militarism (King 1967, 250-251; Garrow 1986 p. 546) It’s not for nothing that Obama was recently described as a “conservative” in a flattering New Yorker write-up titled “The Conciliator.” (MacFarquar 2007)
THE POST-CIVIL RIGHTS ERA
In accommodating white supremacy, Obama is playing to the perverse racial politics of the post-Civil Rights era, wherein the leading architects of policy and opinion have declared “race” over as a barrier to black advancement. It is a time when large number of Americans, including many blacks, claim “exhaustion” with race issues. Race- and racism-avoidance have become the orders of the day in an officially “color-blind” neoliberal age when conventional wisdom ascribes people’s status and wealth to purely private and personal success or failure in adapting to the permanent, inherently human realities of inequality in a “free market” system of reactionary corporate rule to which “there is no alternative.” In the dominant public discourse of this era, the nation’s “pervasive racial hierarchies collapse,” in the words of Henry A. Giroux, “into power-evasive strategies such as blaming minorities of class and color for not working hard enough, refusing to exercise individual initiative, or practicing reverse racism.” Even as an enveloping, increasingly invisible racism “functions” as “one of the deep and abiding currents in everyday [American] life,” this discourse works “to erase the social from the language of public life as to reduce all racial problems to private issues [of] . . . individual character and cultural depravity.”
This “neoliberal racism,” as Giroux calls it, “can imagine public issues only as private concerns.” It sees “human agency as simply a matter of individualized choices, the only obstacle to effective citizenship being the lack of principled self-help and moral responsibility” on the part of those most victimized by structural oppression and the amoral agency of those super-empowered actors who stand atop the nation’s steep and interrelated hierarchies of class and race. Under its rule, “human misery is largely defined as a function of personal choices,” consistent with “the central neoliberal tenet that all problems are private rather than social in nature.” (Giroux 2003; Giroux 2004).
The technically biracial Obama’s campaign and persona are perfectly calibrated for this era of victim-blaming neoliberal racism. He allows whites to assuage their racial guilt and feel non-racist by liking and perhaps even voting for him while signaling that he won’t do anything to tackle and redress the steep racial disparities and systemic racial oppression that continue to deeply scar American life and institutions. “What . . . me and my country racist? You can’t be serious: we’re thinking seriously about voting for a black man as president. My wife and son just love Oprah and Jamie Fox.”
RACISM’S DIFFERENT LEVELS: “STATE OF BEING” v. “STATE OF MIND”
This brings me to the third reason not to sing racial justice hosannas over the sudden rise of Obama. His election could actually worsen racism’s power in ways that are unintentionally suggested at the end of the professor’s comment given at the beginning of this article. The main problem with the conventional white wisdom holding that racism no longer poses relevant barriers to black advancement and black-white equality in post-Civil Rights America is a failure to distinguish adequately between overt “state of mind” racism and covert institutional, societal, and “state-of-being” racism (Street 2002; Street 2004a; Street 2007).
The first variety of racism has a long and sordid history. It includes such actions, policies and practices as the burning of black homes and black churches, the murder of “uppity” blacks and civil rights workers, the public use of derogatory racial slurs and epithets, the open banning of blacks from numerous occupations, the open political disenfranchisement of blacks and the open segregation of public facilities by race. It is largely defeated, outlawed and discredited in the “politically correct” environment created partly by the victories of the Civil Rights Movement.
The second variety lives on, with terrible consequences. It involves the more impersonal operation of social, economic and institutional forces and processes that both reflect and shape the related processes of capitalism in ways that “just happen” but nonetheless serve to reproduce black disadvantage in numerous interrelated key sectors of American life. It includes racially segregating real estate and home-lending practices, residential “white flight” (from black neighbors), statistical racial discrimination in hiring and promotion, the systematic under-funding and under-equipping of schools predominately attended by blacks relative to schools predominately attended by whites, the disproportionate surveillance, arrest and incarceration of blacks and much more.
Richly enabled by policymakers who commonly declare allegiance to anti-racist ideals, this deeper racism has an equally ancient history that has outlived the explicit, open and public racism of the past and the passage of justly cherished Civil Rights legislation. It does not necessarily involve individual white bigotry or even subtly prejudiced “ill will” against blacks. Consciously or even unconsciously prejudiced white actors are not required and black actors are more than welcome to help enforce the New Age societal racism of the post-King era. This entrenched, enduring, and more concealed societal racism does not depend on racist intent in order to exist as a relevant social and political phenomenon. The racism that matters most today does not require a large portion of the white population to be consciously and willfully prejudiced against blacks or any other racial minority. It only needs to produce racially disparate outcomes through the operation of objectively racialized processes. It critically includes a pivotal failure and/or refusal to acknowledge, address, and reverse, the living (present and future) windfall bestowed on sections of the white community by “past” racist structures, policies and practices that were more willfully and openly discriminatory toward blacks.
“State-of-being” or structural racism generates racially disparate results even without racist intent – “state-of-mind” racism – on the part of white actors. It oppresses blacks with objectively racialized social processes that work in “routine” and “ordinary” fashion to sustain racial hierarchy and white supremacy often and typically without white racist hostility or purpose. (Carmichael and Hamilton 1967; Feagin 2000; Brown et al. 2003; Street 2007; Steinberg 1995)
Sadly, the fact that level-one (overt) racism has been defeated while the deeper (level-two) racism survives is not just a matter of the social and racial justice glass being half-full. It’s more darkly complicated than that. The second and deeper level of racial oppression’s power may actually be more firmly entrenched by celebrated Civil Rights victories and related black upward mobility into the middle and upper classes insofar as those victories and achievements encourage the illusion that racism has disappeared and that the only obstacles left to African-American success and equality are internal to individual blacks and their community — the idea that, in Derrick Bell’s phrase, “the indolence of blacks rather than the injustice of whites explains the socioeconomic gaps separating the races”(Bell 2004, pp. 77-78). “It’s hard,” Leonard Steinhorn and Barbara Diggs-Brown have noted, “to blame people” for believing (falsely in Steinhorn and Diggs-Brown’s view) that racism is dead in America “when our public life is filled with repeated affirmations of the integration ideal and our ostensible progress towards achieving it.” (Steinhorn and Barbara Diggs-Brown 1999, 6-7)
In a similar vein, Sheryl Cashin notes that “there are [now] enough examples of successful middle-class African-Americans to make many whites believe that blacks have reached parity with them. The fact that some blacks now lead powerful mainstream institutions offers evidence to whites that racial barriers have been eliminated; the issue now is individual effort.” (Cashin 2004, p. xi)
The white-run culture’s regular rituals of self-congratulation over the defeat of overt, level-one racism — the Martin Luther King national holiday, the playing of King’s “I Have a Dream” speech over school sound systems and on television, the demotion of Trent Lott, the routine reference to integrationist ideals in political speeches, and now the presidential viability of the “conservative” Obama, etc. — reinforce the dominant white sentiment that the United States no longer has much of anything to answer for in regard to its treatment of black America and the ubiquitous white American notion that racism is something only from the now relatively irrelevant and distant “past.” “Now we can finally forget about race completely” is the basic white wish seeking fulfillment in the election of someone like Obama.
This is a problem that Martin Luther King, Jr. anticipated. By the middle 1960s, King and other civil rights leaders were most concerned about the deeper institutional and societal racism that existed across the entire United States. King and others feared that the defeat of open segregation and racial terrorism in the South would reinforce the majority white nation’s tendency to avoid more covert, established, invisible and nationwide forms of racial oppression while encouraging whites to falsely conclude that all the nation’s racial problems have been “automatically solved” (King 1969, pp. 321-322).
King also worried that early Civil Rights victories over level-one racism would encourage white Americans to deny the powerful and living legacy and material relevance of “past racism.” As he knew and as is still true today, the older, more open racism of the long pre-Civil Rights past continues to cast more than just an incidental shadow over contemporary racial inequalities. Most white Americans object strenuously to the idea that “past racial discrimination matters in the present.” (Feagin 2000, 261) But anyone who examines capitalism in an honest way knows that what people get from the present and future so-called “free market” is very much about what and how much they bring to that present and future market from the past. “Long ago” racism continues to exact a major cost on current-day black Americans, raising the question of whether unresolved historical inequity is really “past.” Slavery and then Jim Crow segregation in the South — and the racial terrorism, discrimination and apartheid imposed on black northerners in places like Chicago and Detroit and the thousands of northern all-white “Sundown Towns” that were formed between 1890 and 1968 (see James Loewen’s masterly study Sundown Towns: A Hidden Dimension of American Racism, Touchstone, 2005) — “long ago” continue to shape present-day racial inequality.
As Michael K. Brown and his colleagues note in their study Whitewashing Race: The Myth of a Color-Blind Society (2003), racial “inequalities are cumulative, a fact adherents of the new public wisdom on race ignore in their rush to celebrate [racial] progress.” Because the “inequalities accumulate over time,” the authors argue, the distinction frequently made by “racial conservatives” between “past and present racism” is often inadequate and deceptive” (Brown et al. 2003). The ongoing need for historical acknowledgement and correction, commonly called reparations, is developed quite well in the following useful analogy advanced by political scientist Roy L. Brooks (Brooks 1996, p. ix):
Two persons — one white and the other black — are playing a game of poker. The game has been in progress for some 300 years. One player — the white one — has been cheating during much of this time, but now announces: “from this day forward, there will be a new game with new players and no more cheating.” Hopeful but suspicious, the black player responds, “that’s great. I’ve been waiting to hear you say that for 300 years. Let me ask you, what are you going to do with all those poker chips that you have stacked up on your side of the table all these years?’ ‘Well,’ said the white player, somewhat bewildered by the question, ‘they are going to stay right here, of course.” “That’s unfair,’ snaps the black player. “The new white player will benefit from your past cheating. Where’s the equality in that?’ “But you can’t realistically expect me to redistribute the poker chips along racial lines when we are trying to move away from considerations of race and when the future offers no guarantees to anyone,” insists the white player. “And surely,” he continues, “redistributing the poker chips would punish individuals for something they did not do. Punish me, not the innocents!” Emotionally exhausted, the black player answers, “but the innocents will reap a racial windfall.”
Seen against the backdrop of Brooks’ living “racial windfall,” there is something significantly racist about the widespread white assumption that the white majority society owes African-Americans nothing in the way of special, ongoing compensation for singular black disadvantages resulting from past explicit racism. Roy Brooks’ surplus “chips” are not quaint but irrelevant hangovers from “days gone by.” They are weapons of racial oppression in the present and future. Given what is well known about the relationship between historically accumulated resources and current and future success, the very distinction between past and present racism ought perhaps to be considered part of the ideological superstructure of contemporary white supremacy functioning as an ongoing barrier to black advancement and equality.
It is important to remember that the explicit and overt racism that made it impossible for a black man to seriously consider running for higher office in the not-so distant past was about more than the sadistic infliction of racial terror in and of itself. That racism served and enforced the economic exploitation and material subordination of blacks Americans. That long exploitation gave rise to a steep, living and historically cumulative racial wealth and power gap whereby stark contemporary disparities are deeply fed by past inequalities. Such is the deep and dark reality behind what Barack “The Conciliator” Obama calmly terms the tendency of “even the most fair-minded of whites . . . to push back against suggestions of racial victimization and race-based claims based on the history of racial discrimination in this country”
THE WHITE-SUPREMACIST FUNCTIONAL UTILITY OF BLACK “SUCCESS STORIES”
Thinking about white America’s superficial “post-racism” and the related distinction between level-one and level- two racism, a Left black political writer recently told me that the election of a black Democrat like Obama to the presidency would be a “disaster” for the cause of black equality. It would be a big negative from a racial justice perspective, this writer feels, because it would deeply reinforce the pervasive majority white notion that racism is essentially over as a relevant barrier to black equality in the U.S. The writer was thinking also about the perverse role that the related success of a minority of privileged blacks and the related class bifurcation of the black community has long played in the preservation of white privilege. As Stephen Steinberg noted in his important book Turning Back: the Retreat from Racial Justice in American Thought and Policy (Steinberg 1995, pp.149-150):
The success of the black middle-class [since the Civil Rights Movement is not] proof of…a more favorable opportunity structure for blacks. After all, racism has never been indifferent to class distinctions, and it may well be that blacks who have acquired the ‘right’ status characteristics are exempted from stereotypes and behaviors that continue to be directed at less privileged blacks. [But] there is nothing new in this phenomenon. Even in the worst days of Jim Crow, there were blacks who owned land, received favored treatment from whites and were held forth as ‘success stories’ to prove that lower-class blacks had only themselves to blame for their destitution…The existence of this black elite did not prove that racism was abating (thought illusions to this effect were common even among blacks). On the contrary, the black elite itself was a vital part of the system of [racial] oppression, serving as a buffer between the [ruling white] oppressor and [most truly black] oppressed and furthering the illusion that blacks could surmount their difficulties if only they had the exemplary qualities of the black elite.
The remarkable success of power-respectful, bourgeois, non-threatening (to whites) and (in short) “good” blacks like Barack Obama, Oprah Winfrey and (once) Colin Powell helps white Americans believe that blacks have only themselves to blame on the whole for black America’s persistently separate and unequal status in the U.S. For many whites, loving national media stars like Oprah and Barack is the nice reverse side of hating inner-city Darnell and Lakisha.
The sophisticated and opportunistic Obama knows this very well. He’s not going to complicate his comfortable funding relationships with the likes of Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Henry Crown and Co. and General Dynamics et al (Street 2007d and 2007e). by substantively criticizing empire and/or class inequality at home and abroad. In a similarly calculating and power-seeking vein, he’s not about to undermine his favorable post-Civil Rights situation with the white electoral majority by making strong public reference to the persistently powerful and pervasive role of anti-black racism in American life. He’s going to try to ride white America’s self-serving racial confusion and denial as far as he can — all the way, he hopes, to the White House.
Derrick Bell 2004. Silent Covenants: Brown V. Board of Education and the Unfulfilled Hopes for Racial Reform ( New York , NY : Oxford University Press, 2004).
Roy Brooks 1996. Integration or Separation: A Strategy for Racial Equality (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1996).
Michael Brown et al. 2003. Whitewashing Race: The Myth of a Color-Blind Society (Berkeley , CA : University of California-Berkeley Press, 2003).
Stokely Carmichael and Charles Hamilton 1967. Black Power: The Politics of Liberation in America (New York, NY: Vintage, 1967),
Sheryll Cashin 2004. The Failures of Integration: How Race and Class are Undermining the American Dream (New York: Public Affairs, 2004).
Bruce Dixon 2006. “Kucinich: A Blacker Candidate than Obama,” Black Agenda Report (December 20, 2006).
Joe Feagin 2000. Racist America: Roots, Current Realities, and Future Reparations (New York, NY: Routledge, 2000).
David Garrow 1986. Bearing the Cross: Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (New York, NY: HarperCollins, 1986).
Henry A. Giroux 2003. The Abandoned Generation: Democracy Beyond the Culture of Fear ( New York, NY: Palgrave-MacMillan, 2003).
Henry A. Giroux 2004. The Terror of Neoliberalism: Authoritarianism and the Eclipse of Democracy (Boulder, CO: Paradigm, 2004).
Joel Handler 1995. The Poverty of Welfare Reform (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1995).
Christopher Jencks 1992. Rethinking Social Policy: Race, Poverty, and the Underclass (Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press, 1992).
Martin Luther King, Jr. 1967. “Where Do We Go From Here?” 1967 Address to Southern Christian Leadership Conference, reproduced in Martin Luther King Jr., A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writing and Speeches of Martin Luther King Jr. (San Francisco, CA: HarperCollins, 1991), edited by James N. Washington.
Martin Luther King, Jr. 1969. “A Testament of Hope,” posthumous essay reproduced in Martin Luther King Jr., A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writing and Speeches of Martin Luther King Jr. (San Francisco, CA: HarperCollins, 1991), edited by James N. Washington.
James Loewen 2005. Sundown Towns: A Hidden Dimension of American Racism ( New York , NY : Touchstone, 2005),
Lisa MacFarquar 2007. “The Conciliator: Where is Barack Obama Coming From?” The New Yorker (May 7, 2007).
Barrack Obama 2006. The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream (New York , NY: Crown, 2006),
Barack Obama 2007. “Selma Voting Rights Commemoration,” Brown Chapel A.M.E. Church , Selma , Alabama, March 4, 2007.
Tom Shapiro 2004. “Running in Reverse,” Center for American Progress Action Fund, October 22, 2004.
Stephen Steinberg 1995. Turning Back: the Retreat from Racial Justice in American Thought and Policy (Boston: Beacon, 1995)
Leonard Steinhorn and Barbara Diggs-Brown 1999. By the Color of Their Skin: the Illusion of Integration and the Reality of Race (New York, NY: Penguin, 1999),
Haya Stier and Marta Tienda 2001. The Color of Opportunity: Pathways to Family, Work, and Welfare (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2001)
Paul Street 2002. “A Whole Lott Missing: Rituals of Purification and Deep Racism Denial,” Black Commentator (December 22, 2002).
Paul Street 2004. “Keynote Reflections,” (Featured Article), ZNet Magazine (July 29th, 2004).
Paul Street 2004a. “Skipping Past Structural Racism: Center Trumps Left in Recent PBS Series in Race in America ,” Black Commentator (April 8, 2004).
Paul Street 2005. Still Separate, Unequal: Race, Place, Policy and the State of Black Chicago (Chicago, IL : Chicago Urban League, 2005).
Paul Street 2006. “Obama’s Path to Hell,” ZNet Sustainers’ Commentary (June 18, 2006).
Paul Street 2007. Racial Oppression in the Global Metropolis: A Living Black Chicago History (New York, NY: Rowman and Littlefield, 2007).
Paul Street 2007a. “The Obama Illusion,” Z Magazine (February 2007): 29-33.
Paul Street 2007b. “Obama’s Audacious Deference to Power: A Critical Review of Barack Obama’s Audacity of Hope,” Black Agenda Report (January 31, 2007).
Paul Street 2007c. “The Pale Reflection: Barack Obama, Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Meaning of the Black Revolution,” ZNet Magazine (March 16 2007).
Paul Street 2007d. “Sitting Out the Obama Dance in Iowa City,” ZNet (April 28 2007)
Paul Street 2007e. “‘He’s a Mouse:’ Russell Simmons’ Speaks Some Truth on Obama,” Black Agenda Report (May 9, 2007).