What racist rumors about Barack Obama tell us about the intractability of racism in American politics.
Barack Obama and his family have been the objects of rumors, legends, and conspiracy theories unprecedented in US politics. Outbreaks of anti-Obama lore have occurred in every national election cycle since 2004 and continue to the present day—two elections after his presidency ended. In Trash Talk, folklorist Patricia A. Turner examines how these thought patterns have grown ever more vitriolic and persistent and what this means for American political culture.
Through the lens of attacks on Obama, Trash Talk explores how racist tropes circulate and gain currency. As internet communications expand in reach, rumors and conspiracy theories have become powerful political tools, and new types of lore like the hoax and fake news have taken root. The mainstream press and political establishment dismissed anti-Obama mythology for years, registering concern only when it became difficult to deny how much power those who circulated it could command. Trash Talk demonstrates that the ascendancy of Barack Obama was never a signal of a postracial America.
About the Author
Patricia A. Turner is Professor of African American Studies and of World Arts and Cultures/Dance at the University of California, Los Angeles. Her previous books include I Heard It Through the Grapevine and Whispers on the Color Line.
"Turner expertly exposes more unsubstantiated, secretive, organized anti-Obama agendas and offers valuable glimpses into what many Americans believe, what they think of others’ beliefs, and, most of all, what they think about who belongs where in U.S. society. An informative read." — Library Journal
"Remember how some said we had reached the post-racial era when Barack Obama was elected president? Patricia A. Turner explains why that’s not only wrong but how the rumors about Obama persisted, twisted and have evolved into the distrust, fake news and conspiracy theories of today." — Ms Magazine
"Trash Talk is an excellent resource for the study of the Obama presidency and the arrival not of a ‘post-racial’ moment but a ‘post-truth’ era with which most are ill-equipped to navigate." — Ethnic and Racial Studies
"This is not a comforting book; it is a book that alerts one to important realities, so readers ignore it at their peril. Essential." — CHOICE