Chakravarti on Why Obama Can’t Show His Rage

Lauren RubensteinSeptember 10, 20142min
Chakravarti explains the personal history behind Obama's cautious response to Ferguson

Sonali Chakravarti, assistant professor of government, tutor in the College of Social Studies, writes in Salon about President Barack Obama’s cautious response to the shooting of an unarmed young black man in Ferguson, Mo., and other incidents. She writes that “Obama’s refusal to engage with anger makes sense as a strategic calculation, one that buffers against race-baiting criticism while consistent with his overarching philosophy of pragmatism and bipartisanship.” Chakravarti looks to how black leaders of the past, including Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X, have shaped Obama’s own vision.

She concludes: “Obama’s calculation is to distance himself from anger in public while trusting that allies of a certain type will be able to see the conversation he is having with the legacy of black leaders. His strategy is to acknowledge in private, as in his memoir, that anger was at the core of his call to social justice and public service and that an appreciation of the complexity of anger is central to being able to understand the worldview of another person. Anger, based on his lived experiences, cannot easily be metabolized into compromise and professorial detachment.”

Read the whole essay here.