Review – The Black Presidency by Michael Eric Dyson

Review – The Black Presidency by Michael Eric Dyson

I had some immediate reservations about reading a book about an American president’s term before it has actually finished. Ultimately my fears were largely realised as this book feels unfinished, much like the presidency itself.

The Black Presidency is more than just a book about the presidency of Barack Obama, however. It is a wide-reaching analysis of the social and political effect that having an African American man in the White House has had.

The book spends a decent amount of time discussing whether – as the son of an immigrant from Kenya and a white mother, who grew up in Hawaii among other places – whether Barack Obama was really the black enough to understand the plight of modern African Americans. It also spends most of its time analysing the anger in the community at how Obama hasn’t spent enough time showing the love to his ‘folk’.

Folk… the author loves this word like a fat kid loves chocolate cake. Folk this, folk that… every time he wants to create a separation between Obama and the people he is supposed to represent, he uses the word ‘folk’.

As a white middle-class Australian, I doubt that I have much to add to the discussion of the plight of African Americans. But putting aside the fact that Obama is black for a moment, he ran on a platform of hope, and change, ideals which appealed to more than just ‘his folk’. He was supposed to bring hope, and change, after 8 long years of war and conservatism under George Bush.

And in that, I feel he has failed. Many of the issues which were raised in the book, which spoke to general dissatisfaction with Obama’s policies, and failures of leadership, resonated with me. The book seems to be focussed on how Obama has either failed through inaction, or directly betrayed his folk; but as a progressive liberal I don’t think it should be limited. But maybe that’s just my white privilege talking.

As I said at the beginning, I really felt like this book was written several years too soon. It needs some perspective. It is easy to get caught up in the spin cycle, forgetting just how bad the events of previous presidencies might have been in comparison. The book ultimately just peters out, because life itself has not had the conclusion which would result from the end of Obama’s presidency.

I received a copy in exchange for an honest review.

Sadly, I found that the book was lacking the historical perspective it needed, and was too circular in nature.

2/5 stars

The Black Presidency by Michael Eric Dyson

The Black Presidency by Michael Eric Dyson

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