African Americans and Politics in the Media

Words: 1934
Topic: Politics & Government
Updated:

Introduction

Generally, there is a common concern among scholars that African American politics are of no consequence. Arguably, the study and practice of African American politics have reached a state of sluggishness, and nothing new is being discussed by scholars (Persons 1). To a large extent, studies on African American politics tend to focus more on the description and analysis of racial dynamics. Apparently, some studies about the American electoral process are concerned with the elimination of the racial element in order to create an electoral system where Whites and Blacks are treated as equals. While this is meant to uplift African American politicians, the main idea is to encourage African Americans to think beyond race.

According to King, it is imperative to recognize principles and systems that control democracy in American society so as to comprehend the prospects of African American politics (2). Ostensibly, the concept of African American politics is further complicated by the political reasoning that surrounds American politics (Anderson 2). Although research findings indicate that most Whites have changed their perception of African American politicians over the years, some studies indicate otherwise.

Method and Structure of the Paper

This paper generally discusses African American politics in the media. The paper is developed using secondary sources accessed through Google books as well as journal articles. The paper looks at a number of critical issues regarding African American politics and goes on to examine how African American politics have evolved over the years. The effect of the media on the advancement of African American politics and the participation of Blacks in American politics are also discussed extensively. The conclusion presents a summary of key issues and highlights outstanding concerns regarding African American politics in the media.

The Effect of the Media on African American Politics

In general, the media has an important part to play in determining how African Americans are regarded by Whites. Focusing on criminal activities or other antisocial activities among African Americans, for example, portrays a very bad picture of African Americans. The fight against discrimination and oppression of African Americans has thus been seriously hampered by the way the media depicts Blacks. It is thus imperative for the media to exercise fairness while communicating racial issues to the whole of America. According to Podoshen, the problem of race is also experienced within the American consumer industry (211). Apparently, some brands are negatively associated with the Black community.

Although evidence exists to show that the perception of African Americans among the Whites has changed to some extent, Blacks are still regarded as trouble makers by many Whites. Debatably, the fact that African Americans are considered to be politically inferior to Whites has denied them an opportunity to assume leadership in various public offices. Ostensibly, the problem of race and exploitation among African Americans is worsened by the fact that the media is largely controlled by Whites. This leads to the dismissal of critical concerns raised by African Americans.

Without a doubt, the election and subsequent re-election of Barrack Obama as president of the United States have positively influenced how African Americans are perceived by Whites and clearly indicates that race no longer has a major effect on the election of office-bearers in the United States. While this new political development represents an important milestone for African Americans, its sustainability after President Barrack Obama’s time in office is questionable. Drawing from a study by Gillespie, Obama’s success has led to a huge debate about the future of African American politics (1). For some scholars, the rise of Barrack Obama to be the president of such a powerful nation implies a major transition of African American politics. Purportedly, modern-day African American leaders are slowly stepping into the shoes of older politicians mostly associated with the fierce fight for human rights. Distinct from the older brand of African American leaders, Black leaders in present-day America are unlikely to be affected by the problem of race.

Apparently, the conversations that ensued after Barrack Obama’s victory provoked interesting debates about the future of African American politics. During the deliberations, it was commonly agreed that young African American leaders such as Barrack Obama, Artur Davis, Deval Patrick, Harold Ford Jr., and Adrian Fenty represented a major transformation of African American politics (Gillespie 1). Besides being moderate, these leaders also took a less radical approach to politics, unlike leaders in the earlier generations. Obviously, the debate opened an avenue for Americans to talk about the future of African American politics candidly.

As a result of Barrack Obama’s victory, the impact of young African American politicians is now being felt, and many people are paying attention to them. It is, however, important to realize that not all African American politicians are like Barrack Obama. Although there are similarities in terms of background, political style, and policy preferences, the differences are equally remarkable. There are also variations in the way these leaders have ascended to power. While some assumed office by running for open political seats, those without political connections were forced to take major risks in order to gain entry into the political scene.

Undoubtedly, the emergence of these leaders raises questions about the effectiveness of racial control as a campaign and governance strategy. Although critics saw the importance of eliminating the racial problem, they argued that the use of such a strategy might work against the advancement of African American politics. Although they could get elected, they would be unable to deal with racial issues as doing so explicitly could offend the uncertain electoral mergers that put them into office. According to critics, candidates who get elected to political offices this way enter into agreements with their White counterparts that forbid them from addressing racial issues. However, considering that young African American politicians have assumed political offices based on such arrangements, many are left to wonder whether these leaders will be forced to overlook the problem of race. Seemingly, the emergence of such engagements has serious implications for African American politics.

Ostensibly, scholars have consistently monitored the progress or lack of it among African Americans concerning racial issues. Debatably, the work of scholars in the race-based era was to encourage the idea of a race-based society. In general, academicians were convinced that they had a major obligation to expose racial disparities. However, the concern is whether social scientists have contributed to the proliferation of racial differences through the use of race as the basis of their research. From the perspective of academicians, it is clear that African Americans were not equal to Whites, and any efforts made to eliminate the inequality have not been fruitful. By and large, Whites have remained nervous about the whole concept of racial equality. According to some scholars, there is a likelihood that racial equality could take away privileges enjoyed by Whites (Starasta 1). For this reason, most White would rather leave the issue of race unresolved.

According to some scholars, the survival of African American politics requires a radicalized approach that is not dependent on race and the socioeconomic plight of African Americans. This is regardless of the fact that President Barrack Obama took a less radical approach throughout his campaigns. Others are, however, convinced that African American politics can not be devoid of racial politics. Apparently, the non-violent approach taken by activists such as Martin Luther King is considered unhelpful in dealing with the challenges of African Americans. Despite the fact that some growth has been realized regarding the development of African American politics, the perception of African American politicians has not changed much, and it is imperative to continue lobbying leaders and decision-makers.

Participation of African Americans in American Politics

African American politicians can take part in American politics in different ways. In a study by King, African Americans have been able to lobby leaders and influence policy by pulling resources together (14). Apparently, this so-called pluralist approach permits individuals and groups to work closely to eliminate oppression and promote respect for African Americans. The approach, however, does not consider barriers that hinder the growth of African American politics. It is also limited as it fails to take into consideration the apparent influence of interest groups on the development of African American politics. The effect of power and wealth is also ignored. Although it is alleged that individuals in the United States have an opportunity to challenge leaders and get their voices heard, this is not necessarily the case. The use of organized political groups is thus essential.

Coalitions have also been used by African Americans to advance politically. Among other benefits, coalitions have been hailed for their ability to empower minority groups in the United States. As has already been explained, coalitions have been used by modern-day African American leaders to ascend to power. It is, however, important for all parties in any coalition to have clear rules of engagement. Coalitions create an avenue for parties to learn from each other and grow.

On the other hand, they are faced with unique problems that require expert skills to deal with. Another limitation of coalitions has to do with the fact that they may be formed either around powerful or powerless individuals or groups, and this may have a negative impact. In addition, they rely on the morals and ethics of individual members in order to succeed. In spite of the limitations, coalitions are considered to be the best choice for influencing political leaders and changing the way African Americans are viewed politically. Ostensibly, this is based on the allegation that coalition politics is well aligned with African American politics. Undoubtedly, the coalition model provides a strong solution to dealing with most problems that affect the development of African American politics.

Generally, the participation of African Americans in the American political scene drastically changed with the end of slavery. Certainly, the victory of Barrack Obama in 2008 provided a good opportunity for African Americans to be recognized politically. Some people are, however, afraid that Obama’s election might work against African American politicians in the future. This notwithstanding, the election of Barrack Obama greatly boosted the agenda of African Americans to be represented in American politics (Persons 215). Despite being an achievement for all African Americans, Obama’s election redefined African American politics and provoked scholars to start worrying about the future of African American politics in the United States. Various factors have also affected the participation of African Americans in American politics. Despite being embedded in the constitution of the United States, the rights of African Americans are, for example, largely ignored. To some extent, African Americans are also afraid of being intimidated by Whites.

Conclusion

By and large, the political landscape in America has greatly influenced African American politics. Without a doubt, the challenges faced by African American politicians in present-day America are totally different from those encountered by older leaders. While older leaders took a radical stand in their approach to politics, young Black leaders have chosen to adopt a less radical strategy.

The election and subsequent re-election of Barrack Obama as president of the United States is a clear indication that race is no longer a hot issue in American politics. This notwithstanding, some people are concerned that Obama’s election may lead to further alienation of African Americans. In addition, there is a likelihood that race will continue to be an important consideration in the American electoral process for a long time. Despite the fact that President Barrack Obama adopted a less radical approach during his political campaigns, it is alleged that a radical approach is necessary to strengthen African American politics in the United States.

Works Cited

Anderson, Kevin. Agitations: Ideologies and Strategies in African American Politics. Fayetteville, AR: University of Arkansas Press, 2010. Print.

Gillespie, Andra. Whose Black Politics?: Cases in Post-Racial Black Leadership. New York, NY: Routledge, 2010. Print.

King, Kendra. African American Politics. Malden, MA: Polity, 2010. Print.

Persons, Georgia. Contours of African American Politics, Volume III: Into the Future: The Demise of the African-American Ethnic Moment? Piscataway, NJ: Transaction Publishers, 2013. Print.

Podoshen, Jeffrey. “The African American Consumer Revisited: Brand Loyalty, Word-of-Mouth and the Effects of the Black Experience.” Journal of Consumer Marketing 25.4 (2008): 211 – 222. Print.

Starasta, Leslie. “The African American Experience.” Reference Reviews 22.4 (2008): 47 – 47. Print.