Author(s): McNeil D
Abstract: This chapter sheds new light on attempts to deploy the specter of Barack Obama’s mother, Stanley Ann Dunham, during the 2008 electoral campaign. Although Obama’s Dreams From My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance (1995) insisted that he ceased to advertise his mother’s race as a child, his public appearances between 2004 and 2008 often involved discussions of ‘white blood’ and provided further evidence about the limited influence of academic work about the social construction of race in the public sphere. As a result, I contextualize the creation of a candidate who can facilitate a race man persona – and the cloak and dagger operations of an ‘off-white’ American hero – by reading Obama’s self-fashioning alongside the performativity of Black icons such as Sidney Poitier, Malcolm X, W.E.B. DuBois, and Will Smith, as well as lesser known African Americans with white mothers, such as Philippa Schuyler, Johnny Spain, Franco Harris and Mario Van Peebles.