PRA senior analyst Chip Berlet offers insight in ARC’s investigation into post-election racial politics

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The Applied Research Center recently released an 86-page edited volume on race and the 2008 election: Changing the Race: Racial Politics and the Election of Barack Obama.  The book features 20 prominent thinkers and activists, including PRA senior analyst Chip Berlet, who will be awarded the Drylongso Award from Community Change on November 10, 2009 to honor his work for racial justice. Berlet joins nineteen others in this collection of thoughtful essays analyzing the complexities of how race played out in the presidential race.  Berlet’s chapter “Race and the Right” discusses the racist backlash occurring during and after electing the country’s first Black president.  Since Obama’s inauguration, there have been nine murders tied to White supremacists.  At the far end of the spectrum, White nationalists have organized around how Obama’s election will benefit their movement.  At the other end, cultural conservatives have advanced the idea of a “post-racial” society where initiatives like affirmative action are unnecessary.  The “post-racial” notion is a dangerous one, writes Berlet, as it positions people of color, immigrants, and women as scapegoats for economic woes.  The chapter deems the racial backlash’s intensity will largely depend upon how the Republican Party organizes itself.  There is much work ahead, concludes Berlet, to “guard for a counterattack from the racially regressive Right.”

Copies of Changing the Race: Racial Politics and the Election of Barack Obama are available for download.