The New Black Nativism

Obama's not black enough? Sad times for a community once proud of its diversity

Brooks Kraft for TIME

Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., greets the crowd after speaking at a rally at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., Friday, Feb. 2007.

To the surprise of many whites and dismay of his supporters, Barack Obama trailed Hillary Clinton among black Americans by a 40-point margin in a recent Washington Post-ABC poll. It is possible to read this as a positive development: black Americans have transcended racial politics and may now vote for the person they consider the better candidate, regardless of race. The sad truth, however, is that Obama is being rejected because many black Americans don't consider him one of their own and may even feel threatened by what he embodies.

So just what is the nature of black American identity today?...

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