Obama’s Effect on African Male Identity

(Robert Shannon does some shopping in Kumasi’s cultural market)

Robert Shannon is a graduate of Morehouse College and an intern with Identity Orchestration Lab in Atlanta, Georgia. He participated in MPAGE 2011 as a student and joined MPAGE 2012 for about ten days to continue a research project that initiated in 2008 with Dr. David Rice.

I went to Ghana to continue research that is over four years in the making. The objective was to gain global insight to the social/psychological impact of Barack Obama’s presidency. It started when Obama won the Democratic Presidential candidacy in 2008. At that time Dr. David Wall Rice and the Identity Orchestration Lab sat down with a group of African-American college-aged males on Morehouse’s campus to discuss the significance of Obama’s election. From this dialogue the students expressed what they saw as a new sense of visibility that black males would acquire. Barack Obama added a new dimension to the stereotypical black male image.

(Two Ghanaians that Robert Shannon interviewed in Ghana)

Fast-forward four years to the end of President Obama’s first term. We sat down with another group of young black males to discuss the effects of the first African-American president. Though the first group spoke of a new black male visibility, the second group expressed what they saw as a new black male visibility within popular culture, but also the consequence and the role it plays in identity negotiation of black males. The data collected from the first two sessions gave great insight in the significance of the United States’ first African-American President on the identity of young black males, however; in Ghana the identity orchestration lab was able to explore this phenomenon on the next level. The impact of President Obama’s Presidency on the Identity of college-aged males in Africa is something that has yet to be explored, and there is much excitement and anticipation of what the research will yield.

(Dr. Rice lectures students in the Cape Coast MPAGE home)

Written by Robert Shannon

Atlanta, Georgia, August 1, 2012

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