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America’s toxic race rule: Why Ferguson protests revive the ugly “twice as good” myth

Tue, 11/25/2014 - 10:43am

In his classic essay “Fear of a Black President,” the Atlantic’s Ta-Nehisi Coates notes how the “myth of twice as good,” which undergirds the respectability politics that’s haunted black Americans for more than a century, is alive and well in our supposedly “post-racial” era. In fact, the idea that black Americans could overcome structural bigotry by being “twice as good” as their non-black competitors is still so mainstream, Coates argues, that it’s forced Barack Obama to conduct his presidency in ways a white president never would. The twice as good myth “smothers” Obama, Coates writes, because it asks him to sidestep the role of race in our society even though race is “the lens through which many Americans view” the president, no matter what.

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