THEY SAY IT takes a village to raise a child. Apparently, this is also true of books. I owe this book to the many villages I have been blessed to be a part of all these years. As a budding academic, I have been privileged to have mentors that have helped guide me along my way. Even when I was unaware, they taught me so much about who I am and the person I want to become. In high school, I had the honor to be mentored by Dr. Walter Hill, the late historian, who first made me see the value in pursuing research for “its own sake.” While he introduced me to the skill of research, he was also introducing me to myself. Too often, he would tell me to dream bigger and not sell my ideas short, but he was really telling me not to sell myself short. I didn’t see it then, but I do now. Thank you, Dr. Hill, for your kindness, patience, and generosity.
When I arrived on the campus of Temple University, I was overwhelmed by this place that felt so pregnant with possibility. I wanted to be lots of things when I got to Philadelphia—an anthropologist, an art historian—but it was the Department of African American Studies where I found my first intellectual home. Dr. Sonia Peterson-Lewis gave me the confidence and skill set to do, study, and be anything I wanted to be. I must also mention Drs. Abu Abarry and Nathaniel Norment, who also nurtured my growth during this time. It is rare that your mentors become your colleagues, and I am so honored to have crossed paths with you all. And I would be remiss if I did not mention the indefatigable Dr. Bettye Collier-Thomas, who taught me how to fall in love with black people across time and space through their words. What you taught me all those years ago has never been forgotten. I also have to mention Tchet Dereic Dorman, Dr. Tiffenia Archie, and Dr. David Canton for making my dreams of graduate school a reality. The Ronald McNair Program was invaluable to my choices, and I would not be here now if it were not for you. I am so thankful to Temple University for the many ways it shaped my career trajectory.
(p.x) Graduate school was the place where I realized what my passion was. This, in no small part, due to the diligence of Dr. Paula D. McClain. Dr. McClain, it is because of you that this book is happening. You set me on this path, and I was unsure at first, but you are the reason I have a career. You trained me, professionalized me, and directed me when I had no idea where to go. You have been a life mentor and I am forever indebted. I am happy to say the same about the Department of Political Science at Duke University. You all gave me a strong foundation, and I thank you all for your insistence on my best. This department also gave me some of the most significant intellectual and personal relationships of my life. I am so thankful for my BLiPS crew: Victoria Defrancesco-Soto, Monique Lyle, Shayla Nunnally, and Efrén O. Pérez and Tammy Pérez. I would not have made it through graduate school, or this profession, without your help. You all have done so much to enrich my lives and you each have made me a better person because of it. I could not write this section of my life without acknowledging one of my very best friends, Dr. Jason Johnson. Though you went to that other school down the road, I am so glad we took that detour. Your friendship has been an umbrella in this rainy world. We have seen each other through a lot, and I cannot wait for a time when there is a little less happening.
In my career, I’ve had the pleasure of working with some amazing scholars who are even better people. The Departments of Political Science and African American Studies at Purdue University showed me what it meant to be collegial and a good departmental citizen. A young scholar could not have asked for a better set of people to be mentored by. Thank you especially, Cornelius Bynum, Rosalee Clawson, Michelle Conwell, Marlo David, Joseph Dorsey, Jennifer Freeman Marshall, Aaron Hoffman, James McCann, Venetria Patton, Keith Shimko (and Chris Olofson), Matilda Stokes, Antonio Tillis, S. Laurel Weldon, and Annette Wheeldon.
I have to thank the Mecca, Howard University, and the Department of Political Science for creating a home for me. I have never worked at a place that I have loved so much. Being surrounded by the majesty of Howard University has made me appreciate the journey so much more. Working in “truth and service” for the students of this community has been my life’s great privilege; that I get to do that in the historic Department of Political Science is icing on the cake. But it has also been a distinct pleasure to work with some of the most brilliant women: Drs. Jarpa Dawuni, Keneshia Grant, and Keesha Middlemass. Lastly, to Drs. Hatem and Lashley, thank you for enduring for all of us.
(p.xi) Speaking of dope women, my career would not be possible if it were not for the early investment of colleagues from across campuses and disciplines. I am a fortunate woman to have so many sister-friends who care about me in such a deep and abiding way. Michelle Deveaux, I would not have written this book without you. Quite frankly, you helped me pick myself up when I didn’t think it was possible, or advisable, to get up again. I whisper a small “thank you” every day to the universe for helping us find each other in that bathroom. Dr. Khalilah Brown-Dean thank you for continuing to inspire me. Dr. Lorrie Frasure-Yokley, you have made so many things in my professional life possible, and I cannot thank you enough for pulling me along even when I was unsure of the mission. Dr. Anthea Butler, you are a badass and I hope to be like you when I grow up. Dr. Natalie Masuoka, you have suffered through various stages of this project, and every time you have made it infinitely better. Dr. Jennifer Stoever-Ackerman, I feel smarter every time I talk to you, and I am so thankful we experienced Rochester together. Lastly, I have to thank my Philly family. Dr. Nina Johnson you have spoken nothing but positivity over my life, and I appreciate your giving spirit. Dr. Amada Armenta you are a truth-teller and a damn fine mixologist. Dr. Jennifer Harford-Vargas you are a ray of sunshine in the world. I have to thank my forever roommate and vacation partner, Dr. Lee Gayle (and Obie). You guys have helped me stay moored throughout all of life’s ups and downs. Thank you for allowing me into your heart and your home.
There are also many of you who I cannot thank enough for offering a kind word, your name, your intellectual energies, or just your friendship. Alvin Tillery, you have been a believer for a long time, and I thank you for your patience. Dr. Tyson King-Meadows (and Elka Stevens) I have learned about how I can grow in this profession by watching what you do, often silently, for so many of us. There are simply too many people to speak to separately, but I must acknowledge: Travis Adkins, Dawn Ambrose, Antoine Banks, Najja Baptist, Ray Block Jr., John Brehm, Nadia Brown, Nyron Crawford, Menna Demessie, Isatu Destry, Heath Fogg-Davis, Michael Fauntroy, Pearl Ford Dowe, Megan Francis, Sekou Franklin, Zinga Fraser, Andra Gillespie, Cory Gooding, Gabrielle Gray, Stacey Greene, Daniel Guillion, Alana Hackshaw, Kerry Haynie, Patrice Howard, Jarvis A. Hall, Chaunetta Jones, Julia Jordan-Zachery, Clarence Lusane, Kim Mealy, Michael Minta, Nick Nelson, D’Andra Orey, Millery Polyné, Kathy Powers, Melanye Price, Mark Sawyer, Joe Schwartz, Elsie Scott, Rick Selzer, Todd Shaw, Valeria Sinclair-Chapman, Brenda Truesdale, (p.xii) Candis Watts Smith, Betsy Super, Heather Thompson, Ronald Walters, Dorian Warren, Ismail White, Janelle Wong, and Jackie Yu-Johnson. I am also thankful for the many supports I have received from the American Political Science Association and National Conference of Black Political Scientists (NCOBPS). NCOBPS family you have labored with me and I am forever grateful.
Angela Chnapko and the editorial staff of Oxford University Press, you always saw the vision of this book and ushered me to the finish line. Thank you for being such a great editor and helping me get this work to the public.
In so many ways, my life would not be possible without the love of my very large family. The Silver clan of Warrenton, NC, are unyielding in their love. There are too many of you to name, but you are all appreciated. Their support has been unwavering, especially that of my aunt and uncle, Barbara and Joe McCoy. You could not have loved me more; I appreciate the lifetime of meals, clothes, and care that you all so selflessly provide week after week. My cousins Angelia McCoy, Andrea Sorey, and Annette Lewis, I could not have asked for better companions, style-gurus, and sisters. Deena Cunningham and Bridgette Jones—thanks for always being there. My North Carolina cousins Alisha Silver, Sheron Mapp, and Jonathan Silver, you all have kept me sane and in tears (from laughing). I could not get through this life without you.
The Carter family has loved me through it all. Aunt Stephanie Davis (Uncle Charles) you were the first person I looked up to. I hope to be half the aunt you still are to me. To my other sister, Ebony Carter, you are part confidante, therapist, and co-conspirator. You’ve always been honest with me, and I am so lucky to call you family.
I would not have made it this far if it were not for my big sister, Dr. Portia Carter Barnes. You made me want to be the best version of myself. You are an amazing physician, teacher, principal, mom, daughter, and wife. I’m unsure how you do it all, and I am still in awe of you and all you do. To my brother-in-law, Shelby Barnes, you took me to get my first car and literally started me on this road; I thank you for how much you sacrifice to make so many things possible for all of us. Kelsey Carter, seeing you grow has been one of my joys. To my nephews Mikal, Joshua, Seth—you all have made me exceedingly proud. My niece Shelby Jaye, you are “black girl magic” personified and you are invaluable and I hope you appreciate that as you move through this world.
(p.xiii) Last but certainly not least, I reserve my deepest appreciation for my parents Linda Silver Carter and Michael Carter. You all were the best parents I could have hoped for. You gave me the foundation to be able to do this work, and anything else I set my mind to. You are amazing co-parents and have been steadfast in your belief in me. You showed me that love is a verb, and I am grateful for all the ways you have demonstrated your care for me over the years. Thank you for the hand holding and back rubbing.