A Promised Land

by Barack Obama

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What forms of prejudice did Obama witness in A Promised Land?

In A Promised Land, Barack Obama witnesses prejudice against LGBTQ+ persons serving in the military, young men living in the Middle East, and women serving in his own administration.

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In A Promised Land, Barack Obama is subjected to many forms of prejudice. Due to his skin color and his name, he’s labeled a terrorist and his place of birth is questioned.

In A Promised Land, Obama also bears witness to many forms of prejudice, including prejudice within the United States military. This prejudice centered on "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (DADT). In 1994, president Bill Clinton and army leaders agreed on a policy that would allow LGBTQ+ persons to serve in the military so long as they kept their sexual and gender identity a secret.

For Obama, DADT was "offensive to American ideals and corrosive to the armed forces." Obama was particularly keen on jettisoning DADT because he connected the prejudice that LGBTQ+ persons faced in the military to the prejudice that Black people faced in the armed forces. Obama was not fine with letting this undignified policy continue. He didn't want to witness such prejudice any longer. With support from major military leaders and even a few Republicans, he was able to repeal DADT and end a longstanding prejudice.

Another prejudice that Obama witnesses in A Promised Land concerns the young men living in the Middle East. Obama admits that the lives of these young men had been adversely impacted by prejudice. They

had been warped and stunted by desperation, ignorance, dreams of religious glory, the violence of their surroundings, or the schemes of older men.

Obama goes on to write that he wanted to "save" them and expel the "hate" in their heads. Alas, Obama didn't end this prejudice so much as extend it. While he admits that he "took no joy" in carrying out drone strikes against these men, Obama felt it was his "responsibility" to maintain these attacks. He made sure that they were as effective as possible.

For other forms of prejudice witnessed by Obama, consider how he reacts to prejudice against women in his own administration and how he responds to prejudice against the Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr.

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