Post-Race

By most accounts, the term “post-­race” entered the U.S. popular lexicon in 2008 over the course of raucous electoral campaigns that ended with the election of the first African American to the U.S. presidency. Circulating with enthusiasm in news commentaries, via viral circuits of social media, and within the performative repertoires of the campaigns themselves, the 2008 election took shape as “trailblazing” and “historic” (Herbert 2008). Barack Obama’s unprecedented victory promised “an affirmation of American ideals and a celebration of American circumstances, . . . a particularly American achievement” (Wallace-­Wells 2006) and, as the filmmaker Spike Lee put it, cleaved time itself, from “B.B., Before Barack to A.B., After Barack” (quoted in Colapinto 2008). On November 4, 2008, in the giddy euphoria of election-­night celebrations, a jubilant black voter from California proclaimed, “Color has no meaning, and Obama has proved it.” The Atlantic’s Twitter feed, likewise, summed things up, …

This essay may be found on page 160 of the printed volume.

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