Newswise — Reporters working on stories about how racial politics may affect President Obama's campaign for health care reform should consider Lester Spence, an assistant professor of political science at Johns Hopkins University.

As an African-American and a scholar of black politics, race in popular culture, public opinion and political behavior, Spence can offer perspectives on a range of issues related to health care reform and race, from the gaps in care experienced by blacks and Latinos to the way their images and stereotypes could be used by politicians and pundits to manipulate the health care debate.

"While talking about racial disparities in outcomes and in care is important and necessary, it is far from sufficient," Spence said. "What we should do is identify the specific ways that race works and will work in the upcoming effort."

Spence has appeared regularly on National Public Radio, has served as a source for news stories and offered commentary in such media outlets as the Washington Post, the Saint Louis Post-Dispatch, and His book, Stare in the Darkness: Rap, Hip-hop, and Black Politics, will be published in August 2010. Spence is also an active blogger. More information about his projects can be found at his Web site,

Related material:

Lester Spence discusses the symbolic consequences of Barack Obama for Americans in a podcast available at

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