Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
American While BlackAfrican Americans, Immigration, and the Limits of Citizenship$

Niambi Michele Carter

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780190053550

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190053550.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2020. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 21 October 2020

Conflicted Nativism

Conflicted Nativism

An Empirical View

(p.136) 5 Conflicted Nativism
American While Black

Niambi Michele Carter

Oxford University Press

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter tests a number of the propositions of the book empirically, using an original survey. The data demonstrate blacks have some superficially nativist attitudes, particularly those blacks who see themselves as prototypical Americans. These nativist attitudes are attenuated, however, by increasing levels of national pride. Moreover, blacks express a feeling of closeness with immigrants, particularly continental Africans, than native-born whites. At the same time, blacks support the idea of more border security but, in the main, have not even participated in the most minimal of political acts either in support of or against any immigration policy. This suggests immigration is not a salient issue for blacks, and to the extent they care about immigration, they are not willing to put any of their political energies toward the issue.

Keywords:   linked fate, immigration, pride, national attachment, nativism

WHAT DOES IT mean to be black and American? More importantly, what does it mean to be an American in the face of national trends that seem to suggest your black life does not matter? These questions are not novel considering the historical context of black lives in America. The better question is how do blacks make their American identity operative in a country where their belonging has always been contested? I argue throughout this text that immigration gives us a window into how blacks think of themselves as Americans and as black people—identities that are often in tension, if not outright conflict, with one another. In the previous chapter I delineate the dimensions of conflicted nativism. The primary idea is that blacks’ national attachments are informed by their unique position in America’s racial hierarchy. In practical terms, this means blacks typically do not organize around the issue of immigration, regardless of their opinions about immigrants and/or immigration policy (Carter and Pérez 2015). However, in some instances blacks do express nativist opinions, which I read as informed by their concerns regarding the meaning of immigration for their community. Although these opinions may be racialized, even offensive, this does not generally manifest itself in xenophobic or chauvinistic rhetoric that seeks to isolate and expurgate immigrants from the United States. On the contrary, blacks are typically more empathetic and do not espouse an essentialist view of national belonging that would mark newly arriving citizens as always outsiders.

In this chapter I test the claims of conflicted nativism while also examining other areas where attitudes about immigrants are evident: race of immigrant and immigration policy. Understanding that conflicted (p.137) nativism exists is an important part of the intellectual work being done here, but it is also worthwhile to understand the extent to which, if at all, the race of the immigrant matters. This is especially true because the reports of animosities between blacks and Latinos as well as blacks and Asians have been noted in the literature (Abelman and Lie 1995; Gay 2006; Kim 2000; McClain et al. 2006b; Mindiola et al. 2003; Vaca 2004). It is my contention that despite unflattering notions regarding immigrants, these are not expressions of deep-seated racism. Rather, blacks’ issue has long been the sense that their solidarity with immigrants is neither welcomed nor returned by immigrants who will be able to achieve greater social mobility because of the ways in which white supremacy operates to retard black progress. This is a subtle yet important difference in how black opinion is often characterized.

In a similar fashion, I look at the types of immigration policies blacks support. Although it has been shown that blacks have sometimes supported restrictions on immigration, this support has been conditional (Hellwig 1981). When blacks have supported the theory of restricting immigration, usually it has been because they see a diminished immigrant presence as potentially allowing them to gain some footing in the economy (Goldin 1994). But because immigration restriction has always been a racialized policy, blacks have generally not galvanized around those issues (Tichenor 1994). Furthermore, having feelings about a policy but not taking any action to pursue a set of policy demands suggests a lack of commitment to the issue. At the same time, the fact that national origins quotas were lifted at the same time blacks finally achieved the franchise says something about blacks’ concern with and dedication to the idea of a more open republic. Therefore, I will also be examining the connection between attitudes about policies and policy support. It is important, however, to discuss how race-of-immigrant effects operate and what this may mean for black attitude formation.

Race and Immigration

The issue of immigration is often discussed as if there is some universal “us” versus “them” at play that defines the singular “us” as all citizens and “them” as any outsider. Of course, we know black people have often been excluded from the category of prototypical American citizen. Similarly, it would be naïve to pretend that much of the anxiety around immigrants and potential immigrants is not about who these people are and where (p.138) they are coming from. In Who are We?: The Challenge to America’s National Identity, Samuel Huntington posits that America is changing because of the new wave of non-European immigrants, driven largely by Mexican immigration, who, through some mix of inability, stubbornness, and proximity to their home countries do not want to become “real Americans.” They resist assimilation because there is no incentive to learn and speak English, and they can essentially live in America without having to adapt to its culture at all. This is negative for native-born Americans as well as those seeking to become Americans, because the culture is being altered in ways that make it indistinguishable from our neighbors to the south. Although Huntington is one voice, he does express a common sentiment that post-1965 American arrivals are not like those of earlier centuries. To be fair, they are not; those immigrants who came to the United States after 1965 have the distinction of being the least European of all prior waves.

Although it is true that Americans worried about Germans and Irish immigrants in times past, these fears dissipated as these groups were incorporated into whiteness (Ngai 2004). Yet, the face of immigration today is largely brown. It is my sense that this is in large part driving much of the contemporary conversation about immigration, which focuses on “illegals.” From American obsessions with finding potential terrorists in the wake of 9/11 to preoccupations with patrolling the Mexican border, it is undeniable that there has been far less angst about the numbers of illegal Canadians residing in our midst (Short and Magaña 2002). Although some argue their opposition to undocumented immigration is not the race of immigrant but rather the rule-breaking behavior exhibited by undocumented persons, the literature suggests otherwise (Pantoja 2006; Pérez 2016). In fact, most white Americans care very little about the movements of unauthorized immigrants who are coded as racially white.

For example, in the mid-1990s, Californians used direct democracy to pass a wave of legislation aimed at curbing illegal immigration. Propositions 187 and 227, along with the anti–affirmative action Proposition 209, were framed by proponents of these measures as being about protection of resources, but they were nothing more than thinly veiled attempts to attack Latinos. Proposition 187 was infamous for its particularly punitive policies with respect to undocumented immigrants. If passed, the Proposition would have made it illegal to educate or medically treat someone believed to be in the United States without authorization. Those without proper documentation would be barred from obtaining any kind of social services, including non-emergency medical treatment. In addition, other (p.139) bureaucrats like teachers, nurses, police officers, physicians, and the like would be authorized to take on the role of quasi–immigration officials because they would be designated mandatory reporters of individuals they believed to be in the country without permission. The crux of the legislation was to make the lives of undocumented persons so uncomfortable they would rather leave the country than stay and risk discovery and deportation. Supporters of the measure claimed this was not anti-Mexican or anti-immigrant. Rather, this measure was a pro-American attempt to beat back the undeserving hordes of “illegals” coming to the United States, having “anchor babies,” and taking unfairly from American taxpayers. It is unsurprising that this measure was touted as a way for California to increase revenues and prevent further economic decline.

Despite vociferous protests of Proposition 187, the measure passed with 59 percent of Californians approving it. Although the law never went into effect, its passage was a powerful testament to direct democracy under pressure. Hero and Tolbert (1996) have found direct democracy to be a favored tool of those who feel anxious locally about their national prospects. Considering the sense of racial threat white Californians were experiencing, their support for the Proposition 187 is easier to understand. It is also not a stretch to understand how and why their policy choices were not simply about race-neutral ideas of fairness and rule following. If that were the case, Proposition 227 has little defense.

Proposition 227, dubbed the English Language in Public Schools Statute, sought to end English as a Second Language (ESL) and other such programs that ease nonnative English speakers into American educational institutions by giving them a chance to learn English while also taking some instruction in their native languages. This kind of bilingual education was judged as a failure by 227 supporters, who saw bilingual education as a hindrance to the educational attainment, and ultimate assimilation, of immigrant children and as “a refusal to participate in an English-dominant society” (HoSang 2010: 210). Consequently, the programs for bilingual education were curtailed.

As was the case with Proposition 187, the Proposition 227 ballot measure was race-neutral on its face. However, in the context of California it would be disingenuous to treat these ballot measures as unrelated to the shifting population in the state, since Latinos and Asians comprised a greater share of the population. Although the law applied to all non-English languages, a majority of those with limited English proficiencies in the state spoke Spanish, followed by Chinese speakers (Parrish et al. (p.140) 2006). The issue of bilingual education had many of the same hallmarks as fights regarding affirmative action. Opponents of both policies argued that such programs failed students, handicapped them by supporting their unwillingness to conform to American values, and ultimately left students unprepared. This kind of concern-trolling served to deflect attention from the thinly veiled racism of white Californians who were worried about losing their numeric, political, and social foothold in the state. It is hardly a coincidence that measures like Propositions 187, 227, and 209 came in quick succession and were all policies that disproportionately harmed minority-identified people. They were all created in a context of anxiety about what it meant to be white in an America where you were no longer going to be the numerical majority. Similar fears were shared by blacks in California, as well as other parts of the country, that saw these demographic changes as potentially disadvantaging their communities.

Blacks’ fears, however, did not materialize in the types of anti-immigrant mobilizations seen in California. Even in California, a mainstay immigrant gateway where the perceived dangers of immigration are likely more imminent, blacks did not spearhead or support these types of efforts. Indeed, blacks were more likely to stay out of the political fray rather than put their electoral support behind such measures. African Americans comprised a small portion of the voting coalition that passed Proposition 187; in fact, it was more likely that proximity to other minority populations reduced black support for the measure (Morris 2000). This was largely a measure pursued and supported by an overwhelmingly white population. In fact, what happened in California is characteristic for black politics. Whether California in the 1990s or in the 2016 presidential election, blacks have demonstrated a disinterest in the electoral restriction of immigrants. Indeed, when there was a ballot measure to rescind California’s sanctuary status, black voters were not persuaded by these efforts. And in Alabama, where blacks represent a larger share of the voting population, they came out against HB 56, which allowed police officers to detain individuals if they had a “reasonable suspicion” they were undocumented immigrants, and required school children to produce evidence they were authorized to be in the country. The Alabama NAACP rallied, along with the national NAACP, and campaigned to repeal the discriminatory legislation.

This sense that immigrants are not to be targets of black political agendas or policy efforts is separate from their feelings about immigration policy, which are more ambivalent. On the one hand, blacks have largely left the immigration question off their political agenda. The issue (p.141) has made a periodic appearance, but it has not been a core black political issue. The Johnson-Reed Act of 1924 is a prime example.

The Johnson-Reed Act (1924) has its origins in the nativism and xenophobia of the period. This act introduced severe quotas to prevent the immigration of Southern and Eastern Europeans and effectively ushered in a total ban on Asian immigration. Filipinos were excepted because the Philippines was an American colony, and the Japanese were not explicitly banned because of the Gentleman’s Agreement (1908). Moreover, the Johnson-Reed Act required a literacy test for immigrants and imposed an increased tax on them. These provisions were in place, largely unchanged, until 1965. At the time of the law’s passage, the country was preoccupied with the immigration of “lesser stocks” and their potential to damage the republic. The law itself gave voice to the scientific racism that was becoming more pervasive. Despite the law being couched as an attempt to preserve the “culture” of the republic, the impetus for it rested on a perverse idea about anti-American (i.e., white) discrimination. Chief architect of the law Senator David Reed (R-PA), argued the quotas in 1921 were unfair to the American population because the quotas were based on census data that overrepresented the foreign-born. Reed, along with Alfred Johnson and John Bond Trevor, argued the quotas needed revising because by employing either the 1910 or 1920 census, the quotas would favor those immigrants from Southern and Eastern Europe to the disadvantage of “native stocks” (Ngai 2004; Trevor 1924). According to Ngai (2004), “native stock” was a term of art used to refer to those descended from the white population of the United States in 1790. All those not considered white in 1790 properly could not be considered “real” Americans. The employment of this “native stock” definition necessarily excluded Native Americans, blacks, those Europeans who immigrated after this date, Jewish people, and Asians, who were barred from becoming citizens. This understanding of what it meant to be a so-called American made eighteenth-century whiteness a prerequisite of Americanness. For the purposes of devising quotas, using this definition of “native stocks” meant Northern and Western Europeans would receive the majority of slotted positions because by this rationale, they were considered the largest contributors to American culture and identity. This meant quotas for immigrants from other regions of the world would be severely limited in order to favor these “whiter” immigrants. Therefore, it is difficult to view this act as anything other than a racially motivated attempt at white preservation.

(p.142) Architects of the law argued this imbalance in sending countries created a problem for America because these newer groups were ill-prepared for the demands of popular government, did not speak English, and did not want to assimilate, as evidenced by their “resistance” to learning English and the amount of time it took them to naturalize (Trevor 1924). Although the racial overtones were apparent, those who devised the law were careful to avoid overtly racial language. In fact, the racial homogeneity the law sought was treated as a happy accident, not the result of deliberate policy attempting to socially engineer a “whiter” American society.

Another logical turn that was unanticipated was the recognition of black people into the language of citizenship. The chief architects of this law argued that blacks were the only permissible addition to the “family of citizenship” because of the 14th Amendment, which was passed in the wake of the Civil War. Although this reasoning did acknowledge black people, their African ancestry was not used in devising quotas. There were only 100 visa slots allotted to each of the African nations that were part of the 1924 immigration law. By acknowledging blacks and not their heritage, the statute made it clear black people were not part of the class of original Americans. In fact they were not really Americans, because their ancestors were not considered contributors to American population growth. Therefore, the Johnson-Reed Act acknowledges the inclusion of blacks as citizens as the only legitimate updating of American identity and treats them as evidence of the country’s “openness” to non-Europeans; however, African ancestry is eschewed in devising the immigrant quota system.

While these new quotas were being promoted throughout the 1920s, W.E.B. DuBois, in an op-ed in The Crisis, argued that federal immigration policy was racist with a clear bias toward Europe. The Emergency Quota Act of 1921 imposed the first limits on immigration and used quotas based on national origins to determine how this finite number of visas would be distributed. Because the Emergency Quota Act relied on 1910 census data, the immigration quotas favored Southern and Eastern Europeans. The Johnson-Reed Act was devised as an improvement over the Emergency Quota Act because it would be a permanent federal act and did not rely on census data that gave too much consideration to those who were not Western European. It was believed Western Europeans were the true progenitors of America, and they deserved top billing when it came to devising immigrant quotas. For DuBois, immigration policy was morally bankrupt because it solidified in theory and practice the primacy of global (p.143) whiteness. More insidious still was the fusing of American identity with whiteness. Although America is “at times heartily ashamed even of the large number of ‘new’ white people whom her democracy has admitted,” DuBois argues, she is absolutely sanguine in her barriers to black inclusion. He states, “against Negroes she can and does take her unflinching and immovable stand,” and “trains her immigrants to this despising of ‘niggers’ from the day of their landing” (Lewis 1995: 465).

The ways in which whiteness can be adapted to the goal of keeping black people from attaining any status in the racial hierarchy was particularly galling for DuBois. DuBois’ observations on the mutable nature of white supremacy invested in its perpetuation foreshadows the attempt by Senator Reed to disavow the racist nature of the 1924 quotas. Reed sought to provide cover for the quotas by making blacks complicit in its creation, suggesting that blacks “acquiesced” to its racist provisions. As DuBois states:

“Acquiesced” is lovely. We also “acquiesced” in slavery, the systematic rape of our women, lynching, disfranchisement and public insult. But there is a day when our acquiescence will not so naively be taken for granted.

By including the systemic racist practices aimed at blacks, DuBois undercuts the idea that blacks were somehow in cahoots with Reed or other white authorities in the exclusion of immigrants. Black people were not core constituents of white lawmakers, which makes the claim even more incredible. The idea that blacks somehow were chief beneficiaries or integral in the development of this legislation could not be claimed with any veracity. Blacks could not even convince the federal government to pass legislation making their murder by state authorities a federal crime. There was no way blacks could convince the federal government to revoke passage to potential immigration. By showing the myriad ways in which blacks were disempowered from making policy decisions in their daily lives, DuBois effectively debunks the claim that blacks were consulted in some fashion about this policy. This did not mean that blacks would not or could not see some benefits from immigration restriction. Nonetheless, as I have argued throughout, immigration was not at the top of a black political agenda then, and still is not, in any direct way.

(p.144) Blacks and Contemporary Immigration

In the present political environment, black concerns about immigration may be more focused on the rhetoric coming from President Donald Trump and what the hostile racial climate means for their group. Donald Trump claims he has proposed a ban on Muslim immigrants in an attempt to stymie attacks by extremists. To bolster his claim for the need for these types of discriminatory policies, Trump has pointed to the San Bernadino and Orlando attacks and international events in France and Germany. Additionally, Trump has also called for the building of a wall along the Mexican border to prevent undocumented crossings into the United States. Although these policies have received support among his base, they have more broadly been derided as xenophobic and racist. Moreover, they are simply impractical. However, Trump is pulling from a longer history of discriminatory language and practice that has focused disproportionately on blacks and Latinos.

Trump was a recognizable figure in the “birther movement,” and in 1989 he took out a full-page ad in the May 1 issue of the New York Daily News, along with other major news outlets in the city including, to condemn the Central Park Five, a group of black and Latino teenagers falsely accused of rape and assault of a white, female jogger, and recommended they be sentenced to death. In subsequent years when the boys, now men, were exonerated of all charges stemming from this crime, Donald Trump doubled-down on his claims of their guilt. In both cases, Trump has neither retracted his statements nor apologized for them. However, it is clear the rhetoric Trump is drawing on is part of a longer thread of white supremacy in the United States that has targeted blacks and immigrants variously.

Racist parlance and policies Trump proposes often have repelled black communities. Blacks understand that the same fuel that feeds white Americans’ xenophobia toward immigrants also drives disdain for blacks. Philip Klinkner (2016) finds white Americans’ support for Donald Trump is less about economic concerns and more motivated by an active dislike for blacks. Examining data from the American National Election Study, Klinkner found those whites who are more resentful of black Americans are more likely to support Donald Trump. Additionally, a belief that Obama is an undercover Muslim is an indicator of support for Trump. Likewise, a person who thinks the term violent is an accurate descriptor of Islam is more likely to support Trump. These findings have a number of (p.145) implications for blacks as they relate to immigration and those who seek to appeal to nativism.

What Trump and others of his ilk fundamentally misunderstand is the engagements of black people with diasporic communities of color. The face of Islam in America is black. There is a well-known lineage of black affinities for the religion of Islam, which was popularized by Malcolm X and the Nation of Islam. Muhammad Ali and Kareem Abdul Jabbar helped to disseminate the religion in varying sectors of the black community. Although the Nation of Islam is a religious movement with a black-nationalist bent, the Nation of Islam is not representative of the many blacks who convert to traditional Islamic sects, mainly Sunni Islam. Blacks make up about 13 percent of the Muslim population in the United States with many of them converting to the religion (Pew Research Center 2017). Therefore, while Islamophobia is targeted toward those who appear “Arab,” Trump’s claims represent a threat to black Muslims, who frequently encounter more surveillance from state actors because of their racial designation. This rhetoric, which continues despite Muslim condemnation of religiously motivated violence, served to dampen support for the Republican candidate (Lipka 2017). A July 2016 NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist poll showed, Trump had zero support among black voters in the important swing states of Ohio and Pennsylvania.1

In many ways, the Trump phenomenon is a regurgitation of lessons blacks have learned over their centuries-long engagement with the American project. It was common for blacks to look at American stances on immigration as a proxy for where the country might stand regarding their rights (Hellwig 1987). In moments when the United States took a more restrictionist posture toward immigration, it was also not making a proactive response to the domestic terror of lynching that too many black communities were forced to endure.2 This is partly why immigration reform should be recognized as a significant part of civil rights reforms in the 1960s. When Americans were restrictive to “outsiders,” they were also restrictive toward blacks, despite their status as native-born citizens.

This sense of racial pessimism among blacks extends to other groups as well. One of the key ideas of this text is that blacks, who are displeased with their treatment in the United States, also acknowledge the difficulties other racial minority groups have in being incorporated into American society, including immigrants. In a 2018 Gallup poll, blacks are the least satisfied with their treatment in American society; among blacks, only 18% say they are satisfied with their treatment in American society. This (p.146) finding holds across non-black people are also less satisfied with how blacks are treated in American society (Jones 2019).3 At the same time, blacks are also displeased with the treatment of immigrants and Arabs. Therefore, blacks are able to acknowledge the struggles of other groups and, generally speaking, have opted not to be part of attack campaigns aimed at outsiders.

This does not mean blacks are necessarily positive toward others; it means blacks opt not to mobilize attacks on other out-groups who may be finding themselves on the wrong side of the public imagination. Furthermore, it has generally been the case that blacks feel closer to other non-white groups, including non-white immigrants, than they do native-born white Americans. This suggests the boundaries of blackness are flexible enough to express an empathy and fealty toward minorities who have similar, but different, struggles (Cohen 1999; McClain et al. 2007; Thornton, Taylor, and Chatters 2013; Thornton and Mizuno 1999). This is significant considering blacks often have had mixed interactions with immigrant communities. This indicates blacks acknowledge the difficulties of others without a consistent plan to support or oppose immigration. This ambivalence regarding immigration is consistent with historical trends, and the lack of political mobilization should be read as an agnosticism on the issue of immigration rather than a depth of feeling toward immigrants.

Data and Methods

To assess the expressions of conflicted nativism, I use an original survey of black (n = 1,000) and white Americans (n = 1,000).4 Given the paucity of data available on black respondents that contain measures of racial identity and national attachment, the development of this survey was a necessity. This survey allows us to understand how racial groups interact with national attachment, immigration policy, and immigrant groups. However, because I am majorly concerned with black attitudes I only utilize the black sample. It is my sense that black opinions do not need to be measured in comparison to those of whites for them to have meaning. Although I understand the usefulness of such approaches, I am concerned with establishing what blacks believe, not showing them to be more or less prone to a certain set of ideas and behaviors than whites.

(p.147) Testing Conflicted Nativism

To address these claims, I test several hypotheses. The first hypothesis is that blacks hold nativist sentiment. Given the foregoing history, this may not seem like a controversial claim. Black attitudes, however, have received less empirical attention with respect to nativism than other groups (Carter and Pérez 2015). As a result, it is necessary to test this most basic claim, as nativism is a particular expression of national attachment.

As national attachments go, nativism is a chauvinistic type of attachment that views noncitizens as interlopers. For nativists, ensuring national tranquility depends on an exclusion of outsiders and a protectionism of “national values.” That said, nativism is a perverted patriotism (Carter and Pérez 2015; De Figueiredo and Elkins 2003); patriotism is a love of nation that is not dependent on the denigration of others. The signs and symbols of the nation that one attaches to are a source of national pride, not outgroup derogation. In fact, there is evidence that when blacks are patriotic they are more open to immigrants than their white peers (Carter and Pérez 2015). As such, I am confining my analysis to nativism because blacks have a national identity that can, at times, be derogatory toward out-groups, especially if these out-groups are viewed as endangering black social mobility.

Next, I examine how various measures of national identity influence blacks’ nativist attitudes. I expect that blacks hold nativist sentiment, but I also expect nativist tendencies to be dampened by positive national identity (i.e., patriotism). This is because blacks have always exhibited a commitment to the nation, but this commitment has generally been iconoclast in that they are critical in their posture toward America (Parker 2009; Shaw 2004). Thus, blacks express their love for the nation by critiquing its failures to live up to its core principles. I anticipate seeing this type of iconoclastic patriotism at work and having a negative relationship to expressions of nativism. Likewise, for blacks who see themselves as experiencing discrimination, I expect they will be more open to immigrants than those who see themselves as experiencing less discrimination. Finally, I test the extent to which blacks demonstrate a racial preference in their attitudes toward various immigrant groups. Given earlier claims, I expect black respondents to express a greater degree of preference for immigrants than they do for whites.

(p.148) Dimensions of Conflicted Nativism

To assess nativism I did a simple frequency distribution across items that capture aspects of nativism. These items ask respondents to what extent it is important to have been born in America, to be a Christian, to speak English, and to have resided in the United States for most of their life. Items were coded from 1 (strongly disagree) to 4 (strongly agree).5 As seen in Table 5.1, a majority of black respondents feel the ability to speak English is of primary importance if one is to be an American.6 Approximately 67 percent of blacks agree or strongly agree with this sentiment. Similarly, 45 percent of blacks feel Christianity is an important criterion of American identity. Given the high degree of religiosity in black America, particularly Christianity, this is not a surprising finding (Lincoln and Mamiya 1990; McDaniel, Noorudin, and Shortle 2011; Sahgal and Smith 2009).7

Table 5.1. Frequency of Black Respondents Who Agree with Nativist Items

Nativism Index

Strongly Agree



To have been born in America

8% (58)

11% (76)


To be a Christian

25% (172)

20% (141)


To speak English

41% (275)

26% (179)


To have lived mostly in America

13% (91)

17% (113)


α‎ =.55

Blacks were less enthusiastic about the proposition that it is necessary to have lived in America for most of one’s life. This is not surprising considering blacks’ disinterest in defending American culture from erosion by the presence of immigrants (Diamond 1998). Blacks have historically subscribed to the belief that immigrants can become Americans and at different times, openly have embraced their immigrant brethren (Tillery 2011). In a related fashion, blacks were the least supportive of the idea that one needs to be born in America to be considered a true American. This finding supports my earlier claim that citizenship, while valued by blacks, is not necessarily what makes one an American. Blacks are and have been native-born Americans for a very long time but have not found birthright citizenship to be enough to make them Americans. Likewise, black immigrants have not found their status to offer protection from anti-black prejudice (Greer 2013). Thus, it is unsurprising blacks would be less inclined to believe birthright is what makes one an American.

(p.149) Determinants of Conflicted Nativism

Although the frequency distribution establishes the fact that conflicted nativism does exist, it gives us little insight into what determines this attitude. To parse this question, I develop a conflicted nativism index using the four items in Table 5.1. The index items range from 1, or strongly disagree, to 4, strongly agree (Cronbach’s α‎ =.55). Because the index is an additive measure, the response categories range from 4, or least nativist, to a high score of 16, or most nativist. The mean score for blacks was 8.62, which suggests blacks by and large do not feel strongly about all of the items included in the nativism index. This middling response for conflicted nativism is what I expect given blacks’ ambivalence; however, this ambivalence does not mean blacks do not have definite opinions about the issue of immigration.

The literature on black attitudes toward immigration have variously cited economic concerns and perceptions of discrimination as common predictors (Diamond 1998; Thornton and Mizuno 1999). To measure economic concerns, I used the item, “The job prospects of Americans are getting worse.”8 To assess their experiences with discrimination, I used the item “Which of the following groups do you think experiences the most racial discrimination.” The responses were actual racial categories, which were randomized for respondents. The item was recoded as a dummy variable, where all those who felt blacks faced the most discrimination in American society were coded as 1 and all others 0.

In addition, the research on national attachments has demonstrated the importance of patriotism for creating a more welcoming environment for newcomers. Because patriotism has been measured as a type of national pride, I used measures that captured this sense of national pride. Because there were several questions tapping this tendency, I created an additive measure of pride that ranges from 3, the least proud, to 12, the proudest (Cronbach’s α‎ =.63). Blacks have exhibited their own type of national pride; however, this tendency has not been tested with respect to nativism. I expect national pride will make blacks more tolerant of immigrants because they have not been able to take full advantage of American identity. Similarly, I expect a similar negative relationship between experiences with discrimination and nativist attitudes.

To gauge group consciousness, I include a measure of linked fate.9 I expect those blacks who view their fates as somehow being joined with other group members may have a bit more awareness about the ways in (p.150) which race often disadvantages minorities. Moreover, being a strong identifier with one’s racial group has not been shown to automatically lead to intolerance of others, and I expect a group like blacks to be slightly more empathetic to immigrants (Brewer 1999). In a related manner, I expect the degree to which one feels one is an exemplar of American identity will affect one’s nativist orientation. This is because one’s investment in an identity as American has been shown to increase negative attitudes toward immigrants. To address this issue, I used the question: “To what extent do you see yourself as a typical American?” I recoded the item so that 1 means not very typical and 4 means very typical. Finally, I anticipate that those blacks who feel “American culture is increasingly endangered” would be more nativist in their orientation. Although nativism is akin to this idea of a culture under siege, it is less clear that blacks have been invested in preserving American culture in the same way as whites (Carter and Pérez 2015). Although not shown in Table 5.2, I controlled for gender, educational attainment, political ideology and employment status.

To test these propositions, I produced a set of four iterative regression models. The intuition was that this would reveal the extent to which predictors were significant, and whether they continued to be so when they were placed up against a more robust set of variables. In Model 1, linked fate was the primary independent variable. Because linked fate has been noted to exercise a strong explanatory variable of black public opinion (Dawson 1994a), I expected it would exert a significant negative influence on holding nativist attitudes. Contrary to my expectations, linked fate (p.151) exhibited a slightly positive relationship to nativism. However, the effect was insignificant, which means we cannot place too much value on this finding. It is just as likely that linked fate does not matter at all. Moreover, if we look at how linked fate performs across all models, it remains insignificant and changes from a positive to a negative value with respect to nativism. Thus, I feel comfortable in rejecting linked fate’s importance in predicting black attitudes toward immigration. I consider this to be a positive outcome because it suggests that being highly identified with other black people does not predispose one to anti-immigrant attitudes.

In Model 2, I was principally interested in how the notion of national pride would influence black opinion. As expected, national pride not only decreased nativist attitudes, but it did so across all models. This means that blacks subscribe to a notion of national pride that is independent of chauvinism (Carter and Pérez 2015; De Figueiredo and Elkins 2003). Consequently, being a proud American for blacks does not necessarily lead one to hold more nativist attitudes. In the case of blacks, this means a positive national identity can be open to newcomers. As such, whatever ideas blacks may have about immigrants, nativism is not driven by national pride; as national pride increases, nativism decreases.

Table 5.2. OLS Regression Results on Nativism, Black Respondents

Model 1

Model 2

Model 3

Model 4

Linked fate









American culture



Typical American


Job prospects



Black discrimination








Adj. R2





N = 667

(***) p<.00 ** p<.05 * p<.10

For Model 3, I included measures that would tap into blacks’ economic fears that they might lose to immigrants in the job market. Also, because these fears of loss in the employment sector seem to coincide with discriminatory behavior on the part of employers, I wanted to include an item that would proxy for this discrimination. Although this item does not ask directly about workplace discrimination, I argue that if blacks’ feelings of discrimination more generally could suggest a general outlook about how they view their treatment across domains. Similarly, I wanted to include a measure that would address anxieties about the erosion of American culture. Although this measure seems to be nativist-like, it is not equivalent to nativism because one can appreciate the changes the nation is undergoing and not necessarily feel anti-immigrant as a result. Therefore, I included this measure to see to what degree, if any, blacks are preoccupied with a loss of “American culture.”

None of the main independent variables proved significant in Model 3 except for national pride and American culture. As predicted, the belief that American culture was endangered does not necessarily lead one to hold more nativist sentiment. The coefficient on this variable is negative and significant. This suggests that even for those blacks who feel strongly about American culture, a nativist posture is less attractive as a way to (p.152) deal with these concerns. In a similar manner, believing blacks faced the most discrimination in American society proved insignificant, but the coefficient is negative, which is the relationship I predicted. Although job prospects proved insignificant, its positive value suggests blacks are concerned and will hold more nativist opinions if they believe they will face more difficulty in the job market.

Finally, we can examine all of the foregoing variables in concert with one another in the full model, particularly this idea of being a “typical American.” While it is unclear what or who blacks think is a typical American, to the degree they hold this idea they are more likely to be nativist in orientation. This means for blacks who see themselves as exemplars of American culture, which indicates some notion of belonging, there is an increase in nativism. These four models demonstrate that black attitudes are complicated and far from settled. The findings indicate that blacks do have an identifiable attachment to the nation, but this attachment does not necessarily lead to xenophobic responses.

Attitudes Toward Immigrants

To the extent that any of this matters, it is important to take a cursory look at how blacks think about immigrants. One of the distinct features of conflicted nativism is that black attitudes are nonracial. That is, their feelings about immigrants are not necessarily wedded to the race of immigrant. Therefore, using a simple frequency distribution, I assess blacks’ level of expressed warmth to Asian, African, European, and Latino immigrants. Using feeling thermometers from the Race and Nation (RAN) survey, I find that blacks’ mean scores across all immigrant groups are above 50 degrees as highlighted in Table 5.3. This means blacks indicate some warmth toward all immigrant groups. Not surprisingly, blacks feel the most warmth toward African immigrants (Tillery 2011; Tillery and Chresfield 2012; Thornton and Mizuno 1999). However, it is interesting (p.153) that blacks show no clear favorites for non-African immigrants. They profess a fairly consistent level of warmth across all immigrant groups as demonstrated in Table 5.3.

Table 5.3. Black Feelings of Warmth by Immigrant Group





Mean Thermometer Rating (in degrees)





The purpose of including this information was not to provide determinants of black attitudes with respect to these different groups. Instead, this demonstrates black attitudes regarding immigration are not necessarily racialized in the ways one might expect. Blacks are generally indifferent toward Asian, European, and Latino immigrants as indicated by their rather middling evaluations of the different groups. The only group they have clear warmth for are African immigrants. This makes sense if we think about the sway that Pan-Africanism has traditionally had on black communities. Although I do not test that here, there is ample historical evidence this could be at play. I will return to this result more in the discussion section.

Similarly, when blacks were asked their opinions about what racial/ethnic group they believe their group gets along best with, they chose Latinos, as seen in Table 5.4 (rank ordered by percentage).10 However, most important is the scant number of blacks who chose Latinos; approximately 38 percent of blacks said they did not know. That the modal response was “don’t know” suggests blacks have uncertainties about who they can relate to among their peers. Although Latinos were seen as chief among the groups (none of whom had a clear majority), this response is underwhelming. Nevertheless, I read this finding as indicative of the uncertainty felt by blacks about immigrants, which is the main thrust of this text. (p.154)

Table 5.4. Racial Group Blacks Get Along with Best

Don’t Know

38% (n = 236)


27% (n = 170)


14% (n = 89)


9% (n = 56)

Native Americans

9% (n = 55)


3% (n = 18)





Immigration Policy

The substantive implications of these attitudes for immigration policy need to be addressed at this point. If blacks are ambivalent about immigration, can the same be said for their views on immigration policy? I address this question by looking at black attitudes on policies of restriction, amnesty, and open borders. These policies have been variously tried at different points in our history, such as The Naturalization Act of 1790, Chinese Exclusion Act 1882, The Emergency Immigration Act of 1921, and the Immigration Reform and Control Act in 1986. Therefore, I wanted to get a sense of how blacks feel about these issues in the present.

First, I believe it is important to understand what kind of immigration people care about. Much of the debate on immigration has really been about undocumented migrants. In fact, those who are characterized as anti-immigrant often defend themselves by saying their issue is not immigration but with rule-breaking demonstrated by undocumented immigrants. Thus, they believe persons who are in the country without documentation violate principles of fairness and lawfulness, which are considered core values (Pantoja 2006). From this perspective, legal immigration is acceptable, but illegal immigration is not. Borrowing this logic, the survey asked respondents how important they thought the issues of legal and illegal immigration are. Using separate items, approximately 85 percent of blacks think the issue of illegal immigration is very important or important; similarly, 81 percent believe legal immigration to be very important or important.11 It does not appear that respondents draw much of a distinction between illegal and legal immigration. This is in line with findings by (Masuoka and Junn 2013) that indicate blacks are not influenced by the status of immigrants.

On the question of immigration policy, I used two items: Do you think the United States should allow unauthorized immigrants to gain citizenship if they pass background checks, pay fines, and have jobs? And do you think U.S. immigration authorities should increase their efforts to curb the flow of illegal immigration? Turning to Table 5.5, half of black respondents agreed with the idea of creating a path to citizenship for those already living in the United States without authorization. In addition, approximately 89 percent of blacks agreed with increasing border security. This makes sense, as making a pathway to citizenship is far more practical than deporting immigrants. This is especially true when considering the chaos this policy brings to families. At the same time, it stands to reason (p.155) why blacks may not want to see increased numbers of undocumented immigrants. Therefore, it appears blacks want the government to step up their efforts, in seemingly conflicting ways, by providing access to citizenship for immigrants while preventing further encroachments by undocumented persons.

Table 5.5. Attitudes on Immigration Policy

Percentage strongly agree/agree

Increase efforts to stop illegal immigration

Unauthorized immigrants allowed to gain citizenship

Increase wait to naturalize for legal immigrants

Decrease annual number of legal immigrants





Moreover, when asked whether the government should increase wait times for legal immigrants to become naturalized citizens, blacks were strongly opposed to this idea; only 43 percent agreed with this proposal. Similarly, 57 percent of blacks subscribe to the idea that the United States should decrease the annual number of immigrants admitted to the United States. Overall, it seems blacks have very measured responses to immigration, both illegal and legal. Although they want the government to respond to this very important issue, they do not support efforts to outright ban immigrants or reduce the likelihood they could become incorporated members of the republic. This comports with what we know about blacks on immigration. Blacks recognize they have something to gain by curbing immigration, but they do not believe it fair to prevent those who are already residing in the country to have to wait longer for citizenship.

Although it appears blacks want the government to take a more active role in managing immigration, it is not clear the lengths to which they will go to achieve these ends. Opinions on policy mean little if there is no will to take action around a set of principles. Thus, if any of these ideas about immigration policy matter in any tangible way, then it is reasonable to expect blacks will pursue a political agenda around immigration. When asked whether they would add their name to a public letter concerning both documented and undocumented immigration, only 44 percent of blacks said they would address a letter to Congress on the issue of documentation. Correspondingly, 48 percent of blacks said they would send (p.156) a letter to their Congress person regarding the issue of undocumented immigration.

Letter campaigns can be an effective means for registering one’s public support (or opposition) to an issue and is a rather low-cost way of achieving real political ends (Brown and Brown 2003; Lee 2002). In fact, this type of political activity is one blacks are well-versed in and have practiced for hundreds of years (Brady, Verba, and Schlozman 1995; Washburn 1986). However, the fact that blacks will not engage in writing a letter to Congress on behalf of immigrants, regardless of status, suggests they simply do not care enough about the issue to do anything about it. This is historically what blacks have done with respect to immigration, and it appears they are holding fast in keeping their distance from the issue. Although we do not know exactly why blacks choose not to engage, it seems reasonable that they simply do not see immigration as part of their domain of concern, regardless of the importance they might ascribe to the issue. Taken together, it seems reasonable to suggest immigration is something blacks care about but is simply not a high priority for them.


What this chapter has shown is that blacks have group-based interests, but these interests do not include immigration. Blacks are not concerned with the issue and may be silent on it politically. Historically, blacks have been reticent in their support for immigration because they potentially have more opportunities, economically and socially, when the numbers of immigrants are reduced. Yet, their silence on the issue of immigration should not be read as acquiescence to racist immigration policies. The Johnson-Reed Act (1924) is one such example.

The Johnson-Reed Act (1924), which enshrined immigration quotas that effectively barred immigrants who were not from Northern and Western Europe, was criticized in black circles. The criticisms of the policy had to do with the ways in which the federal government singled out non-Europeans as threats to the nation. Still, blacks had real reservations about what immigration meant for their community that extended beyond the economic. As DuBois (1929) notes, “whenever these same laborers get a chance they swat us [black people] worse than the capitalists.” That immigrants adapt easily to anti-blackness is an observation made by a number of blacks (Ferreira 1999; Roediger 1999). Anti-black prejudice as a manifestation of white supremacy seems to be a hallmark of immigrant (p.157) assimilation (Dixon 2006; Esses, Dovidio, Jackson, and Armstrong 2001; Gans 1979; Jacobson 1999; Omi and Winant 1994). The United States is not unique in its capacity to degrade black people; one of its achievements is the way in which anti-blackness becomes almost a prerequisite for whiteness.

For European immigrants (including those viewed as “lesser stocks”) to gain entrée into racial whiteness, it was necessary they demonstrate their distinctiveness from blacks. Because they were in similar socioeconomic conditions as blacks, incorporating disdain toward blacks became a way to create the needed racial distance. To an extent then, white identity is formed by demonstrating how different one is from black people (Bashi 2004; Dyer 2008; Jacobson 1999). This has consequences for those who are deemed white in American society, but also for those who are considered black. This is because blackness is also an ill-defined category whose boundaries expand and contract depending on the political climate (Kim 1999).

Racial whiteness is demarcated by its exclusivity; on the other hand, blackness is demarcated by its extreme inclusivity. Blackness is overdetermined by the presence of African blood, even if it is in smaller proportion to European extracts. The origins of what is understood as blackness in a U.S. context has to do with the legacy of enslavement. By America’s own laws, values, and investments in enslavement, the law of matrilineal descent becomes enshrined as part of the racial lexicon. To create a permanent class of enslaved people, it was necessary for slave status to be inherited. Consequently, one’s status as enslaved becomes quasi-biological because it is a trait passed from mother to child. As a result of this racial logic, black blood was marked as a tainting force. There was no way one could “whiten up” regardless of how many generations passed. If one was known to be, or suspected of being black, they were always black.

Even as our country’s racial geography was, and is, in flux, blackness remains curiously fixed as a signifier of the bottom of the racial hierarchy. Because of our weddedness to this notion of an all-encompassing blackness, the U.S. Census quickly abandoned any flirtation with the idea of a variegated blackness. For the 1890 census, octoroons, quadroons, and mulattoes were counted, but this idea of blood quantum for blacks was abandoned in the next census and only entertained intermittently after this period (Nobles 2000). These categories are defined by the amount of black ancestry a person has, not the amount of white ancestry. A mulatto (p.158) is a person who has a black parent; a quadroon is a person who is one-quarter black, and an octoroon is a person who is one-eighth black. These definitions tell us much about the ways in which the borders of whiteness were defended. By assigning racial group membership based on black ancestors, it was impossible for communities to “whiten up.” The only way a person could identify as white was to “pass,” which often required relocation and severing family ties with one’s black relatives. It is worth noting the “mulatto” category appeared in the 1910 and 1920 census but was finally abandoned altogether in favor of “Negro” in 1930. So powerful a notion is “blackness” for describing a condition as much as a people, various communities have been classified as racially black despite their lack of African descent (Loewen 1988; Quan 2007). For example, early Chinese settlers to Mississippi were denied entry to white schools but were shuttled to black schools (Banks 1998; JY Kim 1999). This was not because Chinese people were viewed as African descendants. Instead, their race designated them as something other than white, and whiteness could not be endangered by absorbing this immigrant population. No such reservations existed where blacks were concerned because there was no consideration for protecting black people from outsiders. Because blackness was not valued, there was nothing to preserve; therefore, as a category of people they were made to assimilate all manner of newcomers considered “unfit” for whiteness. In this way, blackness was the hyper-inclusive, catch-all racial category for everything non-white.

Unfortunately, immigrants harmed by the black/white binary often relied on a type of appeasement of whiteness, where they demonstrated their value through their positive distinctiveness from blacks. This was a strategy used by a number of immigrants throughout the late-nineteenth and into the twentieth century, who were frequently depicted as being akin to or descended from Africans. This “secondary marginalization,” whereby an already subordinated group marginalizes another subordinated group to gain esteem in society, did not immediately allow immigrants access to whiteness, but it did provide them some status above blacks (Cohen 1999; Jacobson 2001).

This fear of being further marginalized is really at the core of black engagements with immigration, which this chapter demonstrates. Blacks are very aware their blackness makes them unique, in that their identity is viewed as particularly undesirable. However, the problem is that this is not merely attitude; blacks are routinely harmed by these attitudes because they are used to keep them from economic, social, and political (p.159) mobility. As such, blacks are acutely aware of their racial identity and how it is denigrated in American society. I argue this leads to a sense that immigrants want the benefits of coming to America but none of the burdens of being associated with their community. This manifests as what I term a conflicted nativist stance.

On the one hand, blacks feel immigrants are treated poorly and face many deficits in their attempts to become Americans. On the other hand, blacks are not eager to assist immigrant groups. Blacks’ attachment to the nation, as measured by their feelings of pride, does not necessarily make them more intolerant of immigrants. In fact, positive associations with the nation tempered black responses such that blacks indicating they are “more proud” are less likely to hold nativist sentiment. This is significant because it demonstrates that blacks’ nativist attitudes are reduced by affirmations of their belonging in the nation, which suggests nativism is not produced by a nationalism that equates being an American with the exclusion of others.

Likewise, linked fate proved insignificant as a determinant of nativist sentiment. This non-finding is still important, because it shows black group consciousness does not necessarily make one hostile to immigrants. Similarly, the feeling that American culture is endangered did not make blacks reactionary in their response. This could be because blacks do not care much for the usual markers of “American culture,” however defined. It could be the case that when individuals hear the term “American culture,” they are as likely to consider the usurpation, displacement, and destruction of communities of culture as much as they think of the flag and national anthem.12 It is difficult to say what people considered, because what constitutes “American culture” is not defined. Given blacks’ iconoclasm where the United States is concerned, it would not be a leap to consider that many blacks feel American culture ought to be endangered because it truly does not belong to blacks. Whatever the reasoning, it is clear that this sense that American culture is undergoing fundamental change is not driving blacks to become more nativist in their orientation, and this is a positive outcome in the atmosphere of reactionary nationalism we are currently experiencing in the United States.

When we look at immigrant race, it is apparent that race of immigrants does not change the ways in which blacks understand the issues. Although immigration is highly racialized, it is not so for blacks. Not only do blacks report relatively warm feelings for all immigrant groups, they view themselves as getting along best with Latinos. This could be because Latinos (p.160) are the group blacks are most familiar with and are viewed as being most like black people. It could also be that Latinos are as likely to be American as they are to be immigrant. Again, I cannot draw too many inferences from the available data. What is apparent is that blacks are not as standoffish to other groups as many may have assumed. In fact, as previously stated, Table 5.4 indicates that blacks were more likely to say they “don’t know” in response to what group they feel they get along best with. This seems to reinforce the underlying ambivalence blacks have regarding their own place in the American racial hierarchy. Blacks are searching for their place, and that they are unsure where they can find allies alludes to this fact.

However, blacks register more positive feelings toward African immigrants. This makes sense considering the ways in which blackness tends to bond disparate groups of African-descended people. When black immigrants began coming to the United States between 1910 and 1940, black media outlets were largely equivocal toward them (Tillery and Chresfield 2012). Nevertheless, there existed some sensibility that foreign-born blacks were treated as “model minorities” and enjoyed relative advantages over native-born blacks. This pattern is observed in the contemporary moment where the assimilation of black immigrants has been uneven at best. There is a desire to maintain that group’s distinctiveness from native-born blacks because of the stigmas attached to the latter group (Waters 1994). In some cases, black immigrants generally come to the United States and experience better socioeconomic outcomes relative to native-born blacks (Massey, Mooney, Torres, and Charles 2007; Rimer and Arenson 2004). At the same time, this “immigrant advantage” does not last, because of racial assimilation and the inability of group members to maintain distinctions from native-born blacks. What blacks are generally more concerned about are the machinations of whites, who often seek to use immigrants as exemplars of blackness while shaming black Americans for not living up to that promise. Still, for all of the complexities of this intraracial relationship, black Americans and black immigrants have remained close geographically and in terms of identity (Greer 2013; Thornton, Taylor, and Chatters 2013).

Despite all of their uncertainties, blacks do want to see the federal government manage illegal immigration and favor efforts to stop this practice. It does not matter whether the group is undocumented or documented, they want the government to provide some coherent leadership on the issue of immigration. Blacks support the idea that immigrants, both (p.161) authorized and unauthorized, should be able to access citizenship. In general, blacks are opposed to the idea that legal immigrants should have to wait additional time to become naturalized citizens. In the case of unauthorized immigrants, blacks feel they should be allowed to naturalize after meeting some sort of restitution requirement in the form of fines and the like. Even though blacks feel unauthorized immigration should be curbed by the government, they do not favor a policy that would seek to return undocumented migrants to their home country. Nonetheless, 50 percent of blacks do favor the government decreasing the number of legal immigrants admitted to the country. This may be because those legal immigrants are more likely to have better skills and present more of a challenge on the job market, in which case blacks are operating purely from a self-interest position. Fewer immigrants mean less competition in the job market, which is better for their group. However, this recognition does not mean necessarily that one is hostile to immigrants because they want to see fewer of them admitted to the country. Given what we know, it does not seem hostility is a predictor of blacks’ position with respect to immigration. Therefore, it seems blacks, regardless of their misgivings about immigration, maintain a fairly centrist set of positions.

In closing, black opinions are not just about what they say but what they do. To date, blacks have not mounted any campaigns against immigrants. This is because blacks fundamentally believe in a right to self-determination for all people. Although blacks certainly have opinions about immigration, the issue is not salient enough for them to do even something as low-cost as writing a letter to their congressperson regarding legal or illegal immigration. Taken together, these findings support the central idea of this text, which is that black people neither want to help nor to hurt immigrants. In short, blacks are more concerned with their own group’s well-being. It is far more important for blacks to address racial inequality as a route toward more incorporation for their people, which has a way of creating a more inclusive America for all people including immigrants.


(1.) It is worth noting the Philadelphia metropolitan area has one of the largest Muslim populations in the country, with a significant portion of that being composed of black adherents.

(2.) Concurrent with attempts to revise immigration law, the Dyer Bill (1922), a federal anti-lynching bill, passed in the House of Representatives and filibustered in the Senate despite enjoying significant senatorial support. Successive attempts to pass federal anti-lynching legislation failed throughout the 1950s.

(3.) These data were gathered June 7–July 1 prior to the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, as well as the police shootings in Dallas, TX and Baton Rouge, LA.

(4.) The Race and Nation (RAN) survey was co-authored with Efren O. Pérez and was fielded by YouGov/Polimetrix (YGP) from June 17–29, 2010. YouGov/Polimetrix administered the survey online and generated the survey samples through an opt-in respondent panel.

(5.) For complete question wording, please see Appendix C items 17–20. Items that were reverse ordered on the survey were recoded according to this schema in the analysis.

(6.) Don’t know/Refused responses were dropped from this analysis.

(7.) McDaniel et al. (2011) find that although churches have been a great political resource for blacks, some religious denominations, like Evangelical Protestants, are less tolerant of immigrants because of a particular interpretation they call Christian nationalism. Christian nationalists view the nation’s success as dependent on adherence to Christian principles. Although I do not study that idea, I think it is an important caveat about the ways in which church identity and religiosity can influence the opinions of congregants, in this case blacks, in ways that may seem at cross purposes with a broader, social justice agenda.

(8.) All items were coded from 1-strongly disagree to 4-strongly agree.

(9.) I used the standard linked fate measure as devised by Dawson, Brown and Jackson in the National Black Politics Study and popularized by Dawson’s (1994) work on linked fate in Behind the Mule. The question asks “Do you think what happens generally to [black/white] people in this country will have something to do with what happens in your life?” Responses ranged from 1, strongly disagree, to 4, strongly agree. Respondents were matched with their chosen racial group, such that blacks were only asked about linked fate with other blacks and whites were asked about linked fate with other whites.

(10.) Respondents were asked about their group only. Therefore, the racial group was changed depending on a respondent’s self-identification.

(11.) To see complete question wording, see questions 30 and 31 in Appendix C.

(12.) The national anthem is not without controversy. The third stanza of the national anthem derides enslaved blacks who fought with the British at the Battle of Fort McHenry to gain their freed. This stanza of the Star-Spangled Banner is virtually scrubbed from the historical record because it is not a part of the official anthem that is performed. In addition, NFL player, Colin Kaepernick has refused to stand for the national anthem in protest of the murders of blacks by police. (p.214)