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Publication Date

Fall 2009




Duke University School of Law




This Symposium Essay examines the campaign that led up to the last presidential election to illuminate the complex interplay between race and class within our society. Specifically, it explores how race and class functioned together to disadvantage President Obama in the race to the White House (even as he ultimately won the election). Section II focuses on how Obama’s income, job status, and prestigious education functioned as markers of elitism during the campaign, even as compared to opponents with more elite and wealthier backgrounds, and how these factors were used as tools by his opponents to convince lower-class white voters not to support his bid for the Presidency. Section III addresses the ways in which Obama’s adversaries shamelessly foisted negative stereotypes about “lower-class” Blacks upon both Obama and his wife Michelle in order to mark the Obamas as “other” and thus unworthy of life in the White House. Finally, Section IV concludes by exploring the unique challenges that these interactions may present for policymakers, particularly on issues such as affirmative action, desegregation and integration in public schools, and employment.


Symposium Race and Socioeconomic Class: Examining an Increasingly Complex Tapestry

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