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“No More Excuses”: Problematic Responses to Barack Obama’s Election

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The election of Barack Obama to the presidency of the United States brought forth torrents of emotions and expressions from across the racial spectrum, but especially so among African Americans. However, amidst the euphoria of this historic event is a disturbing reaction circulating among African Americans which has implications for the struggle against racism in America. Since Barack Obama’s election, many African Americans across the nation are saying “now blacks have no more excuses,” in effect evoking old discredited theories that eschewed racism as a factor in African American life and blamed victims of this racism for their resulting situations. We assess this development.

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  1. For an in-depth analysis of black conservatism, see Bracey 2008.

  2. The Cult of Victimology, the belief that all Black people are victims of racism, explains why African Americans have not been as successful as other racial and ethnic groups. The Cult of Separatism refers to what McWhorter considers the narrowness of Black American scholarship, exemplified by a lack of commitment to the objective assessment of intellectual issues, and rigorous debate of relevant theories and methods, as well as by an obsession with topics which pertain only to Blacks, Africa, and the African Diaspora. The Cult of Anti-Intellectualism is a tendency among African Americans to attribute low course grades or poor performance on standardized tests to racially marked cultural differences, and to characterize book learning and the pursuit of knowledge as peculiarly “White” endeavors. McWhorter contends that these defeatist cults have been woven into the very fabric of Black American life. Deeply embedded in the ideologies, rituals and ordinary practices of a peculiarly African American culture, the effects of the three cults are evident in language use, speech inflection, hairstyles, dress, and body language among Blacks.


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Correspondence to Wornie L. Reed.

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Reed, W.L., Louis, B.M. “No More Excuses”: Problematic Responses to Barack Obama’s Election. J Afr Am St 13, 97–109 (2009).

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