New book spotlights black America in Obama era

Tue Jun 30, 2009 6:09pm EDT
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By Matthew Bigg

ATLANTA (Reuters Life!) - A new book attempts to dig beneath the euphoria that swept black America when Barack Obama became president to ask the question: what, if anything, actually changed?

"Family Affair: What it Means to be African American Today" is a collection of short, autobiographical essays in which 76 black professionals detail how their families played a role in their success, either as springboards, or barriers to be overcome.

It's one of a slew of books published since the November election in which authors examine the changes in U.S. society that allowed Obama, the first African American president, to run successfully.

In essay after essay in "Family Affair", the short answer to the 'what changed?' question comes through: everything and nothing.

Many of the contributors argue that Obama's election -- and their own success -- reflect changes brought about by the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s.

A number credit self-belief in their success, while some also cite their reliance on the classic American virtues of hard work and self-reliance.

"The idea was to provide a platform for African Americans to discuss their issues on their own terms. The black community is often at times framed through someone else's lens," said editor Gil Robertson.

"It was high time that we take control of how that identity is and how it is seen," he said in an interview.   Continued...

<p>President Barack Obama makes remarks at a reception with National Finance Committee members in Washington in this June 29, 2009 file photo. REUTERS/Jim Young</p>