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A new era in American politics begins next week, as Barack Obama takes the oath making him the forty-forth president of the US. But where does the reality meet expectation?

Challenges facing the next president include the crippled US economy, the jobs on the line and credit crunch does not seem to be shifting.

He also has to deal with challenges overseas including the dangerous and difficult situation in an increasingly volatile Afghanistan. And a stalemate in Iraq where American casualities continue to meld.

There are long term issues such as Israeli - Palestinian conflict where America's position has always been questioned.

Barack Obama also has another deep rooted issue on the agenda, that of a divided America - not only along political and economic lines but one where the color of a person's skin still matters.

Today we ask can America's first black president begin to untangle the knots of America's social divisions?

Riz is joined by Keith Ellison, a Democratic US congressman who faces challenges on two fronts as he is one of the few African-American politicians in the US system and also the first Muslim congressman.

This episode of the Riz Khan show aired from Thursday, January 15, 2009.

Source: Al Jazeera