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Did Obama Inspire A Big Debate On Identity? You Weighed In

In what ways has Obama's presidency altered the landscape of the United States?
Laurie Avocado
Flickr Creative Commons
In what ways has Obama's presidency altered the landscape of the United States?

Last week, Code Switch raised the curtain on " The Obama Effect," our quest to understand what the nation's first black president has to do with the big national conversations on identity and inclusion swirling in full force right now.

That quest began with you. On Friday, we took to Twitter with the hashtag #NPRObamaEffect and asked you to weigh in: If somebody else had come into office on Jan. 20, 2009, do you think we'd be having all these conversations about identity? Has the way you identify yourself as a person of color — or as a white person — changed over the last eight years? Have your personal politics around race shifted post-Obama?

Some people said yes, but weren't lining up to credit Obama:

Many others seemed to think that Obama's presidency has changed the country's landscape in some important ways, even if the changes didn't come from any specific action:

The Obama Effects that you all identified spanned a range of topics, but we noticed a few categories in particular that seemed to have gotten a lot of attention. Some of you noted that Obama's presidency opened up opportunities for people to talk about race, period:

A lot of people went further, saying that Obama hadn't just created space for these discussions, his personal identity allowed for a sense of nuance that previous conversations had been lacking:

Groups that had felt invisible suddenly weren't so invisible anymore:

This seemed particularly salient for multiracial folks. Some saw Obama's mixed racial identity as a chance to more fully embrace their own:

Others experienced the opposite:

We talked about how the Obama family's tenure in the White House relates to feminism, respectability and visibility:

And we speculated about what all this means for the future:

It's clear that there's a lot to sort through, and this is just the beginning. We hope that you'll keep your eyes open for The Obama Effect and keep weighing in on Twitter with the hashtag #NPRObamaEffect.

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Leah Donnella is an editor on NPR's Code Switch team, where she helps produce and edit for the Code Switch podcast, blog, and newsletter. She created the "Ask Code Switch" series, where members of the team respond to listener questions about how race, identity, and culture come up in everyday life.
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