Trash Talk: Anti-Obama Lore and Race in the Twenty-First Century

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Univ of California Press, Sep 6, 2022 - Political Science - 264 pages
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What racist rumors about Barack Obama tell us about the intractability of racism in American politics.

Barack Obama and his family have been the objects of rumors, legends, and conspiracy theories unprecedented in US politics. Outbreaks of anti-Obama lore have occurred in every national election cycle since 2004 and continue to the present day—two elections after his presidency ended. In Trash Talk, folklorist Patricia A. Turner examines how these thought patterns have grown ever more vitriolic and persistent and what this means for American political culture.

Through the lens of attacks on Obama, Trash Talk explores how racist tropes circulate and gain currency. As internet communications expand in reach, rumors and conspiracy theories have become powerful political tools, and new types of lore like the hoax and fake news have taken root. The mainstream press and political establishment dismissed anti-Obama mythology for years, registering concern only when it became difficult to deny how much power those who circulated it could command. Trash Talk demonstrates that the ascendancy of Barack Obama was never a signal of a postracial America.
 

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Contents

Introduction
1
Flagged Down
27
Articles of Faith
54
Born to Run
77
Michelle Matters
103
Pandemic Levels
129
Obama Legends in the Age of Trump
163
Epilogue
195
Acknowledgments
207
Bibliography
227
Index
245
Copyright

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About the author (2022)

Patricia A. Turner is Professor of African American Studies and of World Arts and Cultures/Dance at the University of California, Los Angeles. Her previous books include I Heard It Through the Grapevine and Whispers on the Color Line.

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