To a large extent, African Americans are regarded as a minority group of individuals who are economically different from the rest in the wider society. Severally, African Americans have been subjected to unequal treatment in employment, representation in public offices, schooling, and involvement in various social activities. Generally, most studies that address the state of African American politics tend to portray a very hopeless picture. To most scholars, it appears that African American politics are of no consequence (Persons 1).
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Although the overall feeling is that the perception of African American politicians among the White community has been changing over time, many still consider African Americans as inferior individuals who can not be entrusted with huge responsibilities. It is alleged that African Americans have a unique claim upon the evolution of American politics and the general political arena (Anderson 1). Debatably, America has largely been shaped by African American politics.
To a large extent, the support for African American politicians within the White community is still very limited. Although Barrack Obama managed to become the president of the United States, this has not completely transformed how African Americans are regarded by most Whites. Certainly, President Barrack Obama’s election is a clear indication that race has no place in American politics.
Method and Road Map
This paper provides a discussion on African American politics and generally looks at how African Americans are represented in the media. The conclusion provides a summary of key issues discussed regarding African American politics. The method applied involved the use of secondary sources accessed through Google-books.
Although the racial problem has existed in the United States for a long time, different races have been presented with an environment that has enabled them to evolve. This notwithstanding, the level of oppression witnessed among African Americans is not in any way comparable to that seen among other minority groups in the United States. It has also been alleged that the dominant color of African Americans puts them at a disadvantage and thus subjects them to greater racial pressure unlike other minority groups. By and large, African Americans tend to experience a completely different form of oppression and ethnic evolution experience when compared to other minority groups in the United States.
A number of research professionals have directed their efforts to coming up with strategies meant to help eliminate the racial barrier in order to promote greater support for politicians of African American origin. The idea has always been to neutralize the hatred among Whites and to get them to take a neutral position as far as dealing with African Americans is concerned. Evidently, addressing the challenge of race among Whites has been and continues to be a very important issue that concerns all stakeholders. Ordinarily, Whites favor their own when it comes to leadership in public offices and will rarely vote for African Americans in any competition that involves Whites versus African Americans. Apparently, mistreatment of African Americans creates a strong bond among and gives them a reason to continue the fight against any form of injustice (Persons 8).
Generally, it is alleged that African Americans must take a radical stand if they are to advance in American politics (Davis 135). As noted by Bardes, Shelley and Schmidt, some African Americans are strongly opposed to non-violent strategies used by African Americans such as Martin Luther King (155). In the same way, it is not easy to isolate racial politics from African American politics.
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To understand the potential power of African American politics, it is imperative to be aware of the principles as well as systems that control American democracy (King 2). This is further complicated by the fact that African American political reasoning has been split into different schools of thought (Anderson 2). Research findings also indicate that American democracy as far as the involvement of African Americans is concerned has greatly been affected by a number of factors. To start with, African Americans have for a long time been subjected to various institutional limitations including their rights not being recognized as clearly stipulated in the Constitution of the United States.
The participation of African Americans has also been hindered by personal fear and intimidation. Apparently, extra-legal fears and intimidation tactics have widely been used to keep African Americans oppressed and afraid of practicing their political as well as legal rights. As a consequence, some scholars contend that African Americans have operated under a pretense of democracy in the United States.
Although it is assumed that every individual in the United States can influence the American political system and be able to govern, this is not the case when it comes to actual practice. As pointed out by King, all citizens of the United States including African Americans are allowed to be involved in the American politics through organized groups that have the ability to command power within the American electoral system (13). Through such interest groups, African Americans have an opportunity to elect whoever they want besides being able to shape policy at different levels in the American society.
Involvement of African Americans in American Politics
Various competing models of involvement have been used to determine who governs in the United States. Based on the pluralist model, every single individual in has an opportunity to utilize his or her political talent to influence political outcomes as well as public policy in the United States. The approach enables individuals and groups to democratically determine political outcomes by lobbying decision makers and influential leaders in the politics of the United States. According to King, the pluralist approach has had an effect on African American politics since the 1960’s (14). A notable benefit of the pluralist approach is the ability to bring together resources owned by different individuals and organized groups so as to change the political system as well as institutions that have for a long time been out of reach for African Americans.
Despite the fact that the pluralist approach is a good way to explain the formation of groups and how different groups or individuals end up becoming leaders in the United States, the system fails to provide tangible political involvement of African Americans. The pluralist approach also fails to take into account the historical barriers that generally hinder the advancement of African American politics. In addition, pluralism as a model of African American politics has a limitation in that it does not clearly separate the strong influence that interest groups tend to have on the future of African American politics. The pluralist approach has also been faulted for its failure to account for the impact of pre-established institutional networks and the part played by power and wealth in the African American politics.
Future leaders in the United States have also been determined through coalitions. In a way, the coalition model is regarded as an extension of the pluralist model (King 19). This notwithstanding, it is advisable to study the model in isolation as it addresses very specific issues. Unlike the pluralist model, coalitions are specifically concerned with the empowerment of minority groups including African Americans through power sharing and political deals. Furthermore, the coalition model is founded on the belief that minority groups with similar ideologies can join hands in their quest to influence the political scene as well as political leaders and decision makers. A number of benefits may be associated with the coalition model. Unlike the pluralist model, the coalition model brings together thoughts and ideas of different individuals and groups to lobby political leaders and influence policy.
The coalition model also has the ability to eliminate any form of competition among people who seem to share similar ideologies. Like the pluralist model, the coalition model has limitations. The dynamics of coalitions, for example, create a leadership challenge that must carefully be addressed. Ordinarily, the fact that people with varying ideologies have to be brought together in support of a common agenda often presents a serious challenge. Groups also tend to work against each other during times of political or even economic hardships. Coalitions also fail to fully address the problem of shifts in coalitions. For example, in the event that a common issue has been dealt with, the greatest concern that follows is what to do with the coalition formed to specifically deal with the issue.
The concept of coalition models is also based on the assumption that the interests of African Americans are similar to those of other minority groups in the United States. Another limitation has to do with the fact that coalitions 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 to succeed. In spite of the limitations, however, coalitions are considered to be the best choice for influencing political leaders and changing the way African Americans are viewed in the American politics. 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.
The participation of African Americans in America’s political arena received a great boost during the civil rights movement that happened in 1960s (Morrison 43). To a large extent, the involvement of African Americans took a completely different turn with the ending of slavery. To many, the election of Barrack Obama in 2008 and his re-election in 2012 as president of the United States seemed to present a great opportunity for African Americans to get their voices heard and to deal with the problem of marginalization. While this may be true, a number of studies indicate that the election and subsequent re-election of President Barrack Obama has led to further marginalization of African Americans.
As explained by Persons, however, Obama’s election represented a unique accomplishment for African Americans (215). In general, it was a tremendous achievement for all Blacks. Politically, Obama’s election totally transformed African American politics and got scholars asking many questions regarding the future of black politics in the United States. Although it is clear that the election of Barrack Obama has brought changes to African American politics that would probably continue into the future, it is not easy to determine how long this will continue especially after his term in office.
From the discussion presented in this paper, it is obvious that African American politics has greatly been influenced by the American political arena. Although the development of African American politics has faced numerous challenges, this has changed in the recent past especially due to the election of Barrack Obama as president of the United States. However, while some people regard Obama’s election as a great boost for the growth of African American politics, there are others who see it negatively. Pessimists are convinced that the marginalization of African Americans may increase as a result of the election of President Barrack Obama.
According to some scholars, the survival of African American politics requires a radicalized approach that is not dependent on race and 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 from 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 African American politics, the perception of African American politicians has not changed much and it is imperative to continue lobbying leaders and decision makers.
Anderson, Kevin. Agitations: Ideologies and Strategies in African American Politics. Fayetteville, AR: University of Arkansas Press, 2010. Print.
Bardes, Barbara, Mack Shelley and Steffen Schmidt. American Government and Politics Today: The Essentials 2009 – 2010 Edition. Stamford, CT: Cengage Learning, 2008. Print.
Davis, Theodore. Black Politics Today: The Era of Socioeconomic Transition. New York, NY: Routledge, 2013. Print.
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King, Kendra. African American Politics. Malden, MA: Polity, 2010. Print.
Morrison, Minion. African Americans and Political Participation: A Reference Handbook. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2003. 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.