Analysis Essay: Barack Obama and Race


            It is fascinating to know that there was a period in American history where racism profoundly affected certain individuals, particularly the victims of its prejudice. Upon reading Brent Staples’ compelling essay, “Just Walk on By: A Black Man Ponders His Ability to Alter Public Space” I was taken aback by the words, “My first victim…”. Initially, I perceived the author’s use of the word ‘victim’ as somewhat comical, but as I delved deeper into the narrative, I was startled to discover that a particular woman’s fear of him was solely due to the color of his skin, with no wrongdoing on his part.

            I couldn’t help but imagine myself in a similar situation, innocently walking down the street, only to elicit fear and intimidation from others, based only on the color of my skin. In America, it is undeniable that people’s attitudes and perceptions can be influenced by an individual’s race or skin color. This paper argues that Barack Obama’s race significantly impacted how people perceived him during his presidency and how he was treated as the President of the United States of America. It delves into the attitudes of the public towards him and explores how these attitudes shaped their views on his performance as the nation’s leader.

The People’s Attitudes Towards Barack Obama

            According to Klein (2010), a recent study conducted by Stanford University reveals that racial bias plays a significant role in shaping people’s negative views about their president. Lowther (2008) reported that some individuals, due to Obama’s racial background, harbored concerns that America might eventually become a Muslim country, given his stepfather and biological father’s Muslim faith and his middle name, Hussein. Additionally, some people feared that Obama’s presidency would exacerbate racial divisions in America. The survey conducted for this paper included a respondent named Antera Beltran, who pointed out that “Since Obama became president, he was trying to do what he promised to the people, which is change. But because the Cabinet people that work with him always go the opposite way, President Obama cannot really do everything that he wants to do to accomplish change”. Evidently, these differing views about President Obama have been influenced not only by his family background, but also by his race.

The People’s Views Towards Barack Obama’s Presidency

            Barack Obama’s election as the new President of the United States marked an essential turning point for America, often referred to as the “post-racial America.” During his presidential race, Obama’s skin color became a decisive factor in winning the Presidential Elections (Thurston, 2010). Interestingly, people’s expectations of Obama aligned with his skin color, contributing to his victory. According to Thurston (2010), Obama’s presidency stimulated a higher level of respect, enlightenment, and frankness among people regarding the sensitive topic of race. For many, Obama’s race was a subject of debate ’oncerning America’s future, while for others, it represented a realization of Martin Luther King’s “I Have A Dream” speech. Despite the idea that America had entered a post-racial era with Obama’s presidency, racial bias still persists among many Americans. As Antera Beltran stated, “Race is still an important issue in America. Slavery is still in people’s minds. It is planted in people’s brains since the 1840s that white people should dominate black people and treat them as their slaves.”

The P’ople’s Views Towards Barack Obama’s Presidential Performance

            In an article written by a Filipino columnist, Obama was hailed as “America’s pride” and “America’s redemption.” This praise was a result of Obama’s capacity to lead and effect change throughout the country, particularly during the period of recession and economic crisis. Despite facing immense pressure and trials during his presidency, Obama demonstrated the ability to make swift yet sound decisions to address economic burdens (Cruz-del Rosario, 2009). However, Antera Beltran raised concerns about the possibility of Obama being mistreated as a President, stating, “He (Obama) has been treated badly in the White House because many people want to put him down because of his color, religion, beliefs, and family background.”


            In conclusion, people’s perceptions of Obama and his race are divided. Some view him as a good president, while others hold completely opposite opinions. These findings are crucial for accurately analyzing the role of race in shaping people’s views of President Obama. Interestingly, the results confirm that Barack Obama’s race does influence people’s perceptions and attitudes towards him and his presidency, including their personal views on how he performs as the President of the United States.



Cruz-del Rosario, T. (2009). Two old presidents and Barack Obama.

Klein, E. (2010). How race affects attitudes towards Obama, health care. The Washington Post.

Lowther, W. (2008). Barack Obama: Are critics targeting his race? The Telegraph.

Thurston, B. (2010). Obama: A year in black & white. Who says race doesn’t matter? Independent.


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