Obama and the Myth of the Black Messiah

Americans hope Obama's election can save the black community. But we're saving ourselves

Anthony Suau for TIME

Obama supporters watch his Nov. 4 acceptance speech.

Since Barack Obama's victory celebration in Grant Park, the chattering class has been atwitter wondering what, exactly, his election will mean for African Americans. On Meet the Press, Tom Brokaw asked about the "impact ... on the black community and in those neighborhoods where there are dysfunctional families." To many pundits, both black and white, Obama's election to the White House signals the end of black America's unchallenged status as sore losers and complaint-mongers. "African Americans have just entered the no-excuses zone," Jonetta Rose Barras wrote in the Washington Post. Obama "won't tolerate ... the long-standing narrative of victimhood...

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