Barack Obama is a racist. Specifically, he’s an assimilationist, which is a cowardly type of racist. This is not my view; rather, it is written directly in Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You, a key part of the new antiracist curriculum used in Oak Park’s middle schools. Parents should know what our schools are teaching. Below are some other notable parts of this book; some of the views it expresses are so extraordinary that you may want to review the page in the book. 

The authors walk readers through their view of American history, judging the racial views and implications of various people, institutions, events, and cultural practices. It characterizes these into three categories:

Segregationist: Those truly hating Black people and believing they are inferior. They are racists. (p. xii-xiii, 3).

Assimilationist: Those who believe that Black people can be on-par with white people, but to do so, Black people must play a role in the process by changing in some way (p. xii-xiii). The book says this is a cowardly form of racism (p. xii, 247, and many other spots).  

Antiracist: Those who believe that whenever there are unequal outcomes by race, it is because “racism is the problem in need of changing, not Black people” (p. xiii).  

The interesting part is how these concepts are applied to real people and situations. As an example, civil rights leader W.E.B. DuBois, a co-founder of the NAACP who was widely popular among Black people during his life (1868-1963), is characterized as the “king of assimilation” (p. 118, 143) for much of his life because he advocated for things like Black people getting more education as a way to improve their situation. That is, until around 1933 when, “inspired by Karl Marx, DuBois broke ground on a new idea — antiracist socialism” (p. 151). 

The book describes Martin Luther King Jr. as an assimilationist for most of this life, but says he later changed toward antiracist. “That’s right, even Dr. King, in 1967, was turning away from assimilationist thought in the same way W.E. B. DuBois had later in his life. Dr. King had now realized that desegregation was good only for elite Black people.” (p. 185). 

Barack Obama had “flashes — true moments — of antiracist thought, but always seemed to assimilate under pressure” (p. 241). 

The book discusses some antiracists, but none get more coverage than Angela Davis (pp. 169-71, 184-197, 203-204, 214-215, 247). As the book describes, she spent “twenty-three years as the most recognizable Communist in America” (p. 214), including running for U.S. vice president on the Communist Party ticket in 1980 and 1984. The book recounts her views on Communism and racial issues as coming from the same philosophical source, and she is framed as one of the purest antiracists, basically an American social and political hero.

Whether you agree or disagree with the book’s characterizations of the “good guys” and “bad guys” in racial issues through history, this book is a must-read for anyone who wants to understand what our schools are teaching and how our school administration thinks about racial issues.

Adrian Johnson is a resident of Oak Park.

Editor’s note: See Michael Romain’s Commentary on page 2 for a fuller discussion of this topic, as well as Amanda Tugade’s page 1 story about D97’s anti-racism curriculum.

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