This course takes up the questions of whether, how much (if at all), and why racial group identity and racism influence American political discourse, behavior and policy-making regarding issues of importance to African American communities. The course will also consider the future of debates within African American political thought and politics in the coming post-Obama era. The focus will be primarily on the post World War II era, especially the post-Civil Rights period to the present day. Among the topics we will address are: Obama and the racial divide in America, the rise of the Tea Party, the new politics of immigration, and the rhetoric of "law and order" in American politics and its connection to the mass incarceration. Readings will consider how sociologists, political scientists, and historians have tried to understand the complex and changing role of race and racism in American politics and policy-making.