how does Obama resist racism in Dreams From My Father?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Obama writes that he was able to find avenues that enabled him to resist racism.  His work as a community organizer allowed him to recognize that assisting others is the best way to repel racism. Rather than become immersed in an infinitely regressive cycle regarding racism and its presence, Obama decided to do something proactive to help others who are victim to it.  At the same time, Obama details his involvement and immersion at Trinity United Church of Christ.  This allowed him to find a spiritual core that could be used to resist racism.  In reading the passages of the work that describes religion at the church, Obama was able to find a sanctuary from the condition of racism.

I think that another way in which Obama was able to resist racism can be seen in how the narrative features meditative thoughts about racism.  Obama understands that the questions might be more important than the answers.  It is for this reason that he is able to pose questions such as how identity is constructed, where do biracial people, such as himself, fit within the social dynamics of racism.  He does not apply arbitrary answers, but rather embraces the complexity of the questions.  Such width and breadth in openly talking is where thinkers like Toni Morrison saw value in Obama's approach to challenging issues like racism:

...his ability to reflect on this extraordinary mesh of experiences that he has had, some familiar and some not, and to really meditate on that the way he does, and to set up scenes in narrative structure, dialogue, conversation—all of these things that you don't often see, obviously, in the routine political memoir biography. ... It's unique. It's his. There are no other ones like that.

The idea of "really meditating" on issues like racism provides another manner of resisting it and is embodied in how Obama frames the issue in the text.

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