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tv   Book TV  CSPAN  February 5, 2012 6:00am-7:00am EST

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line" radical politics and the obama presidency" .
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professor kennedy you write in your book obama won the white house does not mean that racial prejudice is no longer a force in american politics. david sears argues persuasively the election of 2008 was anything but post ratio. instead the racial hopes and fears and roped by a the of what days of all the potential to become the first black president sharply divided racial conservatives for racial liver debt-- the roles behavior was considerably more polarized by racial attitudes than any other time on record. >> guest: yes. the race line is still the devil. of course, the election of the first black president was a landmark that shows a tremendous change on racial attitudes. had there not then that change there is no hope of prevailing. at the same time it is also
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clear he had to overcome the his blackness to prevail sell race still matters. >> host: you have a chapter why can't they all be like king. >> guest: that is about barack obama interactions with white america. one of the things that barack obama had to do to win the warehouse to assuage the anxieties of the non black americans. in doing that, he was actually like electoral politicians, said john f. kennedy had to assuage the anxiety of the nine catholic americans to become the first catholic president. one of the things the bombing had to do was overcome negative stereotypes, he had to calm the fears of the nonblack.
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>> host: 202 is the area code if you'd like to talk with professor kennedy. >> host: dr. kennedy you write about affirmative action in barack obama positioning toward affirmative action. you say it is a dangerous land mine for him? >> sure it is. frankly, all racial controversy is a land mine for barack obama and that is why he tries to stay far away from racial controversy and affirmative action and is no different. to say is less as he could come as some people were very critical of in for avoiding ratio controversy. i am not.
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he is the electoral politician and has to be attentive to public opinion and he wants to stay away from issues that be an electoral losers 410 and avoid controversy there will be the electoral loser. >> talk about politics talk about the african-american and republicans allen west and tim scott and you write to race still matters african americans must overcome there blackness in the eyes of their supporters. >> guest: they must. one of the most remarkable elections of 2010 was the election of south carolina. in the republican in context of black man beat out strom
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thurmond, jr.. the legendary dixiecrats senator, that was quite remarkable. my politics are very far away to tim scott however the negative show that conservative white republicans chose him over a white candidate and it shows in my view a change of racial attitudes and a good change. that is part and parcel of the obama philosophy. >> host: what do teach? >> guest: most of the people in my 27 years of harvard is my contract class i used to teach criminal law. i don't any longer it was
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too emotionally draining to teach. every day was a tragedy. every class, every subject come in every case the matter what the issue out there is a tragedy and i found it is just too much. with contracts i could make it people's names and find a hypothetical is. you could have fun and games as some of the time but criminal law that was never possible. >> host: are you teaching this semester? >> guest: i am not. i am research leave this semester and next i also teach courses on race-- race relations and most of what i write has been operation law but this particular book does not have much what did it but typically my books do. >> host: harvard law professor randall kennedy author of several books including sellout and the
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end lourdes book that he wrote and this is his most recent, "the persistence of the color line" radical politics and the obama presidency" here is the black cover and the white cover. what is this? >> of publisher always asks if they are okay in pantheon books has wonderful people working in the art department and i thought this was an interesting way to capture my subject it. >> host: the first caller comes from new jersey. you are on booktv. go ahead with your question. >> caller: thank you for taking my call and foresees band. i am an older white woman. i live in the east coast in
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areas that is much more conservative listening to tv a lot but at a time when everything is so volatile, the voices like oprah winfrey and david appel and other media people are not there to stand by my president and help them and be with him and to speak with him. the own democratic party is not there. with the media is viciousness and allies. we have laws if you say a curse word you get a fine but if you tell the untruths that does not cost you. there is no consequence.
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>> host: we got the point* think you. dr. kennedy there was something a wanted to pick up on that you can answer whatever you want but talk about the democratic party not being fair to support her president. >> a couple of things. first of all, the job of the president of the united states is incredibly difficult. the president of the united states can expect to be criticized all over the spectrum from all sorts of people. the top person and a rambunctious democracy will be subject to criticism and that is a lot of barack obama and that is to be expected. there is something extra with barack obama, the first
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black president and as the first black president, he will be under special scrutiny and he is probably going some unfair criticism that is frankly to be expected and that is part of what has happened. i want to read the i am not saying all opposition to barack obama is ratio and base is. people are against him from the left and the rights even for religious reasons or ideological reasons for partisan reasons. there are all sorts of reasons why people are against barack obama of the one important source of the opposition is race and i talk about that in my book. >> host: dr. kennedy, the birth certificate
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dustup, was that racial? >> parts of it. the very few things are all about raised. i am sure some of the people who thought barack obama was ineligible to be president because the constitution requires the president bn native born. i am sure people who believe that. on the other hand, i am sure there are people who were using as a pretext basis felt they could not say i am against him because he is black so they come up with other reasons in some people who got the real basis of the opposition from the cells. there are all sorts of things going on by the way with respect to the question of the president being eligible because people claimed he was not
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native-born, in my view that is one of the places the constitution that should be reformed i think that is a very bad part of the constitution. there are 700 people who have won the medal of honor many of whom have been killed in defense of the country but ineligible to be president simply because they were not born here that is a bad part of the constitution and we should revise the constitution that there are so many wonderful people or so the sins of the united states to come from abroad. >> host: you're on with author randall kennedy. >> caller: good afternoon. the question and i have to ask you am a professor i think you appreciate the idea the language is our most powerful two but -- tool but what i don't
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understand when it comes to the color line with linguistics is the use of black english by barack obama and people as strange as hillary clinton i don't know to look to their point* of view? as an i italian-american i would be incredibly insulted of rudy giuliano -- rudy guiliani are mario cuomo used an italian accent to appeal to my a better nature. professor cornell west don't use black english or tavis smiley except for emphasis would you address that issue by the mechanism is so popular and in use? >> guest: that is a fine question. when the president of the united states when they get before an audience they try
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to figure out how to connect with the audience. that is pretty typical in terms of people trying to be persuasive. when black politicians are more predominantly black church or the naacp or another organization, they will often speak in a way or make allusions a reference is they think that will connect with the audience. there is a fine line between doing that and engaging in unattractive pandering. it is a fine line in sometimes people go over the line, but by and large when the president changes his diction and a little bit, what he is doing is what politicians typically
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do. not just politicians. if i am speaking to my audience at harvard law school i will often speak in a somewhat different way they and a more general audience. i will make certain assumptions about the audience, what they know or what they are interested in in the effort to grab there attention. i think that is mainly what they are doing. but you are right. sometimes they probably do engage in a sort of stereotyping and sometimes talk down to their audience teeseventeen booktv live from miami book fair randall kennedy is our guest austin, texas is our next caller. go-ahead. >> caller: professor kennedy relating to the war on drugs which is so similar to the war on which is and
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the propaganda so my question is this by the way, i am a white man, why has it obama allow the war nine drugs continue to arrest prosecute convicted and sent to prison so-called drug criminals just for marijuana that 75% going to prison is black. for those who are sent to prison just as did 1972 i am talking about 2008 the most recent figures i have of the imprisonment. >> host: we have got the point* he won a couple of things. first of all, i did agree with the callers general
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skepticism of. it is not antagonism i think it is misleading and ultimately destructive policy. however, i think it is still popular and the president of the united states says he seems to largely believe in it. it would be politically dangerous for him to take the position that you want him to take and he has other policy fish to fry. the united states is in the middle still of an economic downturn and have foreign policy problems and a president of united states has to make very difficult
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calls in terms of his priorities and the war on drugs is clearly not one of them. even if he wanted to and i am not sure that he does, it probably would not be high on his list and there will not be much change. >> host: professor kennedy we have taken three calls to of them have felt the need to identify there ethnicity. is that significant? >> sure. that underscores the title of my book the fact of the matter is that race is all around us. i don't care our racial background, when you say barack obama tellme the first thing that comes to mind, people would say first black president. that is the nature of things
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and that will be the way things will be probably for a long time. >> host: is that bad? >> it is good and bad. it is bad to the extent that it is habitual and you often tend to be under questioning. for example,, a journalist is often the case they will make the racial identification of a person and not feel the need to explain. for instance, randall kennedy black professor at harvard law school. what did my raise have to do with that? sometimes it does. fine. explained that i don't think it should be randall kennedy, a black%, professor at harvard law school.
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if it is relevant, say why it is relevant. if you are not prepared to say why it is relevant then they should not mention the fact that i am black. >> host: one of your colleagues just died u.s. the professor 21 derek bell. the first black member of the harvard law school. >> host: is that fair to say the first black professor at? >> guest: it is if you are writing a story and you talk about his place in the legal academia or harvard law school, then the fact he was the first member of harvard law school faculty is relevant. but on the other hand, if we simply talk about a subject of affirmative action and/or the war on drugs or anything
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else and talk about the view of derek bell, then it is just derek bell and he has a few like anybody else. i don't think a racial identity should in the unexplained way be part of the story. >> host: the next call comes from chicago. you are on book tv's. >> caller: just for your information, black stock in racial terms of the turn at day's show the time they do that constantly. as far as the race comes into the conversation everything they do or talk about is based on race but my question for the professor is i would like his opinion on this stage of black racism in the united
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states today and i do have to go along with that barack obama received approximately 95% of the black vote this past election. blacks are far worse off now than george bush and the black caucus savage all the time. >> host: wait a minute. >> host: john? we will say goodbye i wanted him to define what he meant by black racism. >> guest: i am happy to respond he raised a number of interesting issues but first is their black racism? sure. there are people who look down on other people because of their race.
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sometimes a look down on asian people and that is terrible and to the extent there are black people to act badly toward other people because of their racial background it is a bad thing. sure it exist within black america. now on the question of barack obama and the black vote, in presidential politics, then the democratic nominee who ever that is coming typically gets the lion's share of the black vote. bill clinton got over 9% of the black vote and the same was true of all gore. they are white but they are democrats in presidential politics in particular, black america overwhelmingly goes with the
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democratic nominee. was that instinctual the case of barack obama? of course, it was. his color has something to do with that. those are some of my reactions. >> host: cancun mexico. good afternoon. >> caller: dr. kennedy. i am so happy for your rise to your position but i have a lot question. first of all,, there is the lot of incarcerating the thousands in thousands of young men am present in women to come i am sure for such a minor minor thing when the total the basis of
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the whole country is based on criminal activity. the criminal activity takes someone's land by force. if you would address at as the lot issue then making it to the basis of the whole concept of incarceration to break the law. thank you. >> guest: i think we really do have a major problem on our hands that very few of our political officials have dealt with adequately and that is the problem of mass incarceration i do think the criminal justice system is highly punitive and there are far too many people who are allowed to waste away in prison and it is a terrible thing i wish the congress and the president and the judiciary was more attentive
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to that problem. unfortunately i don't say our political officials are going to do with that problem any time soon in the way in which they ought to. hopefully there will be petition am protesting get that problem higher up on politicians priorities. >> host: "the persistence of the color line" racial politics and the obama presidency" is the name of the newest book from randall kennedy. professor come as a move into the 2012 cycle how does things change from publishing this book this year? >> guest: the president of the united states, barack obama is no longer seeking to become the first hot-- black president he became president and in 2012 the first black president standing for reelection. i think rates will continue
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in both spoken and unspoken form to be an issue in the background, not the only issue by any means but it will continue to be a force. the 2012 election will be very tight and it will be hard fought and it will circuit they certainly occupy energy as a writer i can imagine right teeing another book about the election to come. >> host: did the president speak with you about this book? >> i knew the president a a little bit when he was at harvard law school never in any of my class is but an excellent student and a very outstanding student members of the faculty talked about him because he was so at outstanding i did not talk
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to the president about this book i use public sources that are available to anyone >> host: las vegas good afternoon you are on booktv with randall kennedy a. >> caller: professor i'd like to bring up the jeremiah wright issue again i heard the pundits bring that up again. i think he is a wonderful man of god what he says is scriptural the correct, will not bless america but what he said was very easy to mou explained instead of letting them hammer the man in making the president run out of the church. why doesn't somebody bring this up? he is a wonderful minister now all these years let him act like that he can live
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anywhere in the world. why do we accept this? is pure racism and no other reason and you can stop it. >> guest: thank you for your call. picked up my book there is a chapter in my book about reverend wright. and it is called reverend wright and my father because my father's views were very similar to reverend rights. probably a more extreme frankly in the criticism of the united states. one of the things i tried to do is to show that the views the reverend wright had do have a place in black america and he does represent an important strand of thought about black america is big. there's a lot of strands of thought.
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black conservatives, liberals, lef tist and nationalist nationalist, reverend rights views were an important part and are an important part of black american political thought. they are an understandable part. one of the things i tried to show is he had the basis for saying what was said and i also agree with the caller when he suggested reverend wright was by no means being crazy when he talks about the view that god would look at america with disfavor there is any number of american states men who have said that. thomas jefferson had the view and said he troubled when he imagined that god is
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just because he recognizes that terrible up the issue of american slavery if it is just you will not look with favor on america that being a slave holding republic. abraham lincoln said very similar things. so the idea of a broad view wing america in a disfavored way because of the justice -- the injustices of america that has a long history and i talk about that in one of the chapters of my book i hope that you will be that. >> host: professor kennedy got his degree from yale an undergrad from princeton and was at oxford as a rhodes scholar and clerked with thurgood marshall currently a professor of law and the author of several books of all of your books, which has
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been our what has got a new the most attention and? >> certainly the wind is bigger -- nigger i get calls and emails every week about that book. the longest book is called interracial intimacy and is about the way in which the law has regulated interracial intimacy with adoption, marriage i probably have had the most fun writing that book but i have had fun debt rating all of them it is a great privilege to frankly make a living as a professional student and that is what i am. >> host: where did you grow up? >> guest: washington d.c.
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born in south carolina at my parents for refugees from the jim crow south so their children could have more opportunity. group in washington d.c. and attended a fabulous high-school, the most important schooling experience i have had the a school for all boys and from there went to princeton i have been very lucky. i have led a very privileged life. >> host: next call from professor kennedy comes from of the land. you are on book tv's. >> caller: good morning. thank you for taking my call. i have two questions. barack obama and other white father was black but nobody talks about his white man's. why is that?
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and barack obama was not the only president to have negro ancestry there were several others including jefferson and lincoln but nobody ever speaks about that. what about the president of the continental congress? he was a black man. could you speak to those issues? i would appreciate it. >> about barack obama ratio lineage, there has been some attention paid to that and a good many people who object to those like myself who called barack obama of black african american in some who say he should be called multiracial. his mother was white and his father was a black african and. i call barack obama according to what he says he wants to be called. he identifies himself as
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black and african-american in. so that is how i describe him. it is a very important thing for him to describe himself as black that is an important decision that he made a good many years ago. i think his history would be different if he called himself lotto or multiracial , i had he had done that he would have a different profile am probably would have been seen differently by black people am particular. with respect to the second question about racial identity of other people who have been president, the fact of the matter is the question of who is white and who is black is a question and it up then sign it how
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you define who is black or white. if you go back far enough may be all of humankind this effort can. said it began there then you could make the argument all americans are in some sense african-american it depends on how you want to define what you are saying obviously barack obama is the first person who view himself as black and that is the context i view him as the first black american. >> host: "the persistence of the color line" racial politics and the obama presidency" randall kennedy most recent book. winston-salem. >> caller: thank you for the program and i would like
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for him to speak kind the issue of president obama, a politician in nine as to martin luther king as a leader. >> guest: it is very important to recognize people occupied different phases and have different missions. margin mr. king, jr. was then head of a wonderful and am perked -- important political social movement. he was a civil rights leader and a leader of the struggle and he occupied a certain role and he has certain responsibilities and a burden to carry eight when you occupy that role.
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as a policy issue occupy a different role. you have to watch public opinion and if margin is 13, jr. was willing to go against you are the elected politician go over public opinion poll calculation is different winning and losing is defined differently when you talk about martin luther king, jr. and barack obama, these are men that occupy a completely different niche and you have to identify them differently 87 dr. kennedy will be joined by now irvin painter here at the campus of miami-dade.
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we will broadcast their talk in interaction on that is about 10 minutes we have a few minutes left with randall kennedy. please go ed. >> caller: i have just finished reading your book and it is very interesting i enjoyed it. my first question is during the election it seems he had to encounter not only african-americans but columnists tried to make a division because his father was african born and wanted to treat differently from african americans and i seem to be going through the same situation as well. my friends are african
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american can you speak upon that? also why did you decide to go to princeton 10 other than for wary resided? what is your reaction of zero the book of the occupy wall street move meant? only white americans seem to be suffering as well with financial aid and all of that. i would appreciate that and i also like your book i saw you last time i had to check out this book i am reading and again. >> host: thank you very much. >> guest: i appreciate you reading my book. first of all,, question number one, of black america
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is large and internally divided over various things. many people in black america are immigrants from africa or the caribbean and there are certain tensions between than native-born black americans and black people who are immigrants from other place is. sometimes to the attention becomes rather ugly and use the a little bit of that in a commentary about barack obama truly a black american that his father was a black african as opposed to a black american. i think has subsided somewhat as the caller indicated that was a topic of conversation at all across the united states they deal with the attention but on a question why i went to princeton university, because my older brother went there and it
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was recommended to me and my older brother suggested that i do. i am very happy i went there. it is wonderful. the third question on occupy wall street, very interesting. my sense of things is that to many black americans feel themselves to be in the grip of a dilemma. on the one hand many are feeling the real pinch of the continued economic difficulties. they feel it. at the same time a lot of them don't want to do anything to do with the president and a stand he
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cannot snap his fingers in everything changes in recognize he has influential political adversaries so even though black america dense are hurting, maybe 13 quietly as the president's policies they don't want to be very public in their protest because they think that may hurt the president. >> host: o'quinn you have the last word. >> caller: i and stand that thurgood marshall has no black law clerks for the first four or five years he was on the supreme court. the second question is the census so identify african-american, black, neg ro or colored. would you comment on the
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industry shin listing that on a census form? >> host: a first question is the stated thurgood marshall had no black clerics the first four or five years at. >> guest: that is true. i think it went beyond that it was probably longer than that. not purposely. no. thurgood marshall was quite a stickler as the boss an extremely exacting requirements for whom he hired as a law clerk. thurgood marshall had more black law clerks than any other justice. nonetheless he still had very few. for instance the year before i worked for him he had no black law clerks are when i was there.
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i was the only black law clerk at the supreme court when i was there. justice marshall, mr. civil-rights was quite elitist in his hiring policies. and it he had very few black law clerks that is a part of thurgood marshall's history that frank leave has not gotten much attention but that is true. on the question of the senses, there is a lot of different ways that people can identify themselves and i think that is proper. in my writings for instance, i use the term black and african american and afro-american is. i also use the term negro. some people think that is
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antiquated. i don't thurgood marshall use that term with a capital in in march to me 13 it used the term negro and debbie lee b. dubois use that term of it is good enough for them it is good enough for me. there is a wonderful organization the national association for the advancement of colored people, if colored was that bad of a term i supposeeee
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