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Chancellor's Reading Club

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Male Identity

Barack Obama and African-American Male Identity

Tuesday, October 6, 2:00 p.m.
Lyons Science Annex 120

Discussion Questions

What does Obama's memoir Dreams from My Father have to say about African-American male identity? Join FSU faculty for small-group discussions. If you have a copy of the book, bring it with you.

The questions below are designed to guide your reading, stimulate your thinking, and ground your discussion of the selection during Male Initiative Week.

  • How does his father's absence from much of his life affect Obama?
  • What lessons does he learn from his Indonesian step-father? Do you think Obama’s experience in Indonesia influenced his views on race? Why or why not?
  • What is the role of women in the making of Obama’s character?
  • How does Obama’s bi-racial parentage affect his identity as a black man?
  • What does Obama learn from his male elders, black and white?
  • Who are Obama’s friends growing up? What does he learn about race from them? What does he learn about masculinity?
  • What is Obama’s experience as a black person at a predominantly white college (Occidental)? Do you think he would have had a different experience if he had attended a historically black institution like Fayetteville State?
  • Who are Obama’s mentors as he begins his career?
  • Think about the African American male leaders Obama encounters in Chicago – people like Reverend Smalls, Rafiq al Shabazz, Harold Washington, Reverend Wright. What does he learn about leadership from them?
  • How would you describe Obama as a man? What are the main qualities that stand out? Where do you think these qualities came from?
  • Does the experience and example of Barack Obama change your idea of African American manhood? If so, how?
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