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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

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(p.187) Notes

(p.187) Notes

American While Black

Niambi Michele Carter

Oxford University Press

Chapter 1

(1.) The term controlling image was originally coined by Patricia Hill Collins to explain the outsider status of black women. Collins’ term assists in our understanding of the myriad ways in which those in power use stereotypes of black women to define the cultural value of this marginalized group. The power of these images resides in their ability to render black bodies as outside the boundaries of belonging and mark them as perpetual outsiders. The degree to which a group can differentiate itself from black women will make them more acceptable in the racial hierarchy. Thus, black women’s “stand at the margins of society” normalize systems of oppression because, as an excluded group, they “emphasize the significance of belonging” (Collins 2000, p. 70).

(2.) Officer Loehmann was deemed emotionally unfit to be a police officer in a previous position. This information was not disclosed to the Cleveland police department, and, subsequent to the shooting of Tamir Rice, he was fired for not having disclosed this information in his employment application. While Tamir Rice was shot in a matter of seconds upon the officers’ arrival at the scene, a grand jury declined to prosecute. Subsequent to Tamir Rice’s shooting, Officer Loehmann had been hired as a part-time police officer in Bellaire, Ohio; following a public outcry he withdrew his application for employment. Officer Frank Garmback, who accompanied Loehmann to the Rice scene, had been the subject of an excessive-force lawsuit for placing a citizen in an unlawful chokehold, but had been allowed to continue in his role as a police officer. Officer Betty Shelby was charged and tried for Terrence Crutcher’s murder but was acquitted. Upon her acquittal, she received back pay from the Tulsa police department. She is currently employed by the Rogers County Sheriff’s Department.

(3.) The prevalence of cellphones has enabled the video capture of whites calling police on black people, including children, for such activities as canvassing a political (p.188) district, babysitting, taking naps in dormitory study lounges, selling lemonade, leaving an AirBnB, going to the pool in their communities, returning home, moving into their homes, sitting in coffee shops, sitting in their cars, cutting the grass, accessing homes they have purchased, grilling at a public park, attempting to use a store coupon, and other everyday acts.

(4.) Liberia was the focal point of many of these discussions. Established in 1820 by the American Colonization Society, Liberia was constructed to be a haven for freed slaves. However, it was largely unsuccessful at attracting black people and was criticized by a number of thinkers as a scheme by whites to rid themselves of the “Negro problem” and ease their own consciences rather than being an altruistic attempt to assist blacks. Additionally, those blacks who did migrate to Liberia were not necessarily more progressive in their attitudes and treatment of native Liberians than their white counterparts. The rift between Americo-Liberians, descendants of the black American settlers, and native Liberians was accentuated during the First Liberian Civil War in 1980. Still, there were writers like Martin Delany and Henry Highland Garnet who suggested blacks take themselves to various islands of the Caribbean as well as Latin America in an effort to achieve success and thwart white attempts to harm their social progress.

(5.) It is also true that some immigrants are able to access whiteness, or approximate the white ideal, where blacks cannot. Blacks light enough to “pass” are a notable exception, but this is a rare circumstance that is widely unavailable to the larger group. This is significant because access to a white racial identity brings with it a degree of cultural currency in this country. For most groups, being able to cross into whiteness was a bridge to social mobility (Erie 1978; Jacobson 2001). By gaining a more favorable position in the racial matrix, immigrants once considered nonwhite were able to gather social and economic capital despite their newcomer status. Blacks were barred from many of these programs and remained unable to access the rights and privileges associated with white identity (Perlmann 1989; Pinderhughes 1987).

(6.) In 2005, former Mexican president Vicente Fox said, in Spanish, “There is no doubt that Mexicans, filled with dignity, willingness and ability to work, are doing jobs that not even Blacks want to do there in the United States.” Although the statement was widely rebuked, the sentiment President Fox expressed is not uncommon; the stereotype that Mexicans, as well as other immigrants, are hard-working, is relatively prevalent (Esses, Jackson, and Armstrong 1998; McClain et al. 2006; Waldinger 1997; Waters 1994). This is especially true when immigrants are juxtaposed to American-born blacks, who are more likely to be characterized as “lazy” rather than industrious (Alexander, Brewer, and Livingston 2005; Peffley, Hurwitz, and Sniderman 1997; Weber, Lavine, Huddy, and Federico 2014). However, what this concept ignores is how jobs are structured by employers so they can attract workers they deem to be easily exploited (Saucedo 2006).


(7.) Sigelman and Tuch (1997) have shown that blacks are well aware of the stereotypes that exist about them. Torres and Charles (2004), like Steele (1997), find that blacks internalize these negative ideas, and these (meta)stereotypes have implications for various kinds of interracial interactions, educational performance, and self-esteem.

(8.) Naming conventions have also been found to be a significant hurdle for blacks to access employment regardless of their skill set. Bertrand and Mullainathan (2004) confirmed that applicants with more “black sounding” names were the least likely candidates to receive callbacks. The authors’ findings suggest employers make determinations regarding individuals’ social class based on their names.

(9.) Anti-Catholic bias was an additional layer of the discrimination faced by these immigrant groups. Some reasoned that because of the organization of the Church, Catholic immigrants would be more inclined to follow the directives of the Vatican rather than act of their own free will. This resulted in wild theories that United States democracy was threatened if these immigrant groups were granted the full rights of participatory citizenship.

(10.) I use the terms whiteness and blackness to correspond to the social positions these racialized identities have come to signify in American life. Thus, these designations are not about color per se, but about how individuals who are differentially identified with these designations are sorted in the American racial order.

(11.) Sociologist Eduardo Bonilla-Silva uses the term near white to refer to those groups who embraced whiteness, or white racial identity, because it is the embodiment of power in this country, by distancing themselves from darker racial identities (i.e., black identity in the United States).

(12.) Black codes were enacted across the nation after the end of the Civil War to circumscribe black life. They varied in degree of severity, but prevented blacks from voting, serving on juries, legally possessing firearms, and providing testimony against whites in a court of law, to name a few. More pernicious, these codes devised harsher penalties for “black crimes” like theft of livestock or public drunkenness and criminalized unemployment through the use of loitering or vagrancy statutes. By criminalizing these relatively harmless crimes, states could essentially reinforce slave labor.

(13.) After the 2008 election of President Barack Obama, many in the media declared the United States to be “post-racial” because he was able to garner the support of white voters. Some viewed this as an indication that the United States had overcome its tortured racial past and evolved into a society that no longer harbors racial resentment. Yet, this declaration was made without any meaningful societal conversation about race, and, given the current racial climate, it seems the alleged post-racial moment was just that, because there has been nothing to suggest that Americans are any less attentive to race now than they were in prior generations.


(14.) Revisions of U.S. immigration policy in 1965 provided a path of entry for non-European immigrants for the first time. Caribbean immigrants are among the first sojourners of this period, arriving almost immediately after the 1965 changes, and by the 1980s there is a sharp increase in immigrants from various parts of Africa, Asia, and Latin America.

(15.) A Google search of “Latinos dominate Blacks” returned 11.5 million unique results. Though not scientific, this gives the reader some sense of how pervasive is this characterization of American demographics.

(16.) As of 2000, Latinos are the largest minority group in the United States. Although administratively enumerated as an ethnic and not a racial group, Latinos are nonetheless touted as the largest minority group, composing roughly 15 percent of the American population. Blacks are the second largest minority at 13 percent of the population, followed by Asians at roughly 6 percent and Native Americans at 2 percent.

(17.) In 2012, both Asian American and Latino communities increased their participation in the electorate and became a more integral part of the Obama political coalition than had been appreciated prior to this time. For a more detailed look at the Asian American and Latino electorates, refer to “Inside the 2012 Latino Electorate,” by Mark Hugo Lopez and Ana Gonzalez-Barrera of the Pew Research Center (http://www.pewhispanic.org/files/2013/05/the-latino-electorate_2013-06.pdf) and the Post-Election Survey of the Asian American and Pacific Islander Voters in 2012 commissioned by the National Asian American Survey (http://www.naasurvey.com/resources/Presentations/2012-aapipes-national.pdf).

(18.) The daily incursions into black life—from the mundane, such as anti-black hair policies, to the spectacular, such as mass incarceration—suggest to scholars and laypersons alike that black people have yet to transcend race in such a way where their life chances are not adversely effected by their racial group membership.

(19.) Although the works of McClain et al. (2006, 2009) and others (Hernández-León and Zúñiga 2000; Marrow 2005) have started to look outside of traditional urban centers, there remains a bias in the literature that focuses on urban areas because these remain spaces of concentrated minority representation.

(20.) It is also important to note that such behaviors can be expected in situations of zero-sum competition. By definition, zero-sum situations incentivize competition because a win for one person/group represents a loss for another. Because zero-sum competition can only have one winner and the resources are finite (i.e., city council seats) there is no way to share cooperatively. Thus, competition is a predictable and necessary outcome, not a representation of some ethical failing by any person or group.

(21.) A notable exception was the Harold Washington campaign of Chicago in the early 1980s. Washington vigorously pursued the Latino community of that city—composed primarily of Puerto Ricans—and thus had campaign literature in the Spanish language explaining voting rights of U.S. citizens. Such measures (p.191) taken by Washington worked, and he was elected Chicago’s first nonwhite mayor (Muñoz Jr. and Henry 1986) For a more complete discussion of this case and the election of Mayor David Dinkins in New York City, see John J. Betancur and Douglas C. Gills (2000) The Collaborative City: Opportunities and Struggles for Blacks and Latinos in American Cities.

Chapter 2

(1.) Although this party was only active from about 1843–1856, they organized, mainly in northern industrial areas, around Irish Catholic exclusion. They were able to harness the energy of this anti-immigrant fervor for electoral gain. Campaigning on fear of the “Catholic menace,” they presented themselves as an alternative to the Democrats, a number of whom were Irish Catholics (Hanagan 1998). Although this movement was short-lived, they were able to win several elections in the 1850s. Their biggest achievement was control of the Massachusetts legislature and governorship in 1855 (Higham 1976). In various cities, such as Philadelphia and New York, campaign promises to hire native-born American workers were extremely popular and helped the American Republican Party win city offices. Although this organization was episodic, the sentiments of the organization and its appeal to native-born white Americans continued to resonate.

(2.) This controversial organization was founded in the late 2000s to stem the flow of immigrants from Mexico to the United States. Located primarily in the southwest, this organization and others like it have cropped up throughout the country.

(3.) Alternatively, the border control issue has also been framed as a safety concern because porous borders suggest to would-be terrorists that America is ripe for another attack.

(4.) For a more detailed discussion of this particular case, see Barbara M. Posadas (1982) “The Hierarchy of Color and Psychological Adjustment in an Industrial Environment: Filipinos, the Pullman Company and the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters,” Labor History 23(3): 349–73.

(5.) This sensibility that blacks are entitled to a certain consideration in racial matters because they are the archetypal minority in the United States would exist despite the fact immigrants naturalize and subsequent generations become birthright citizens. The fact immigrants naturalize and become some version of Americans supports the sense that blacks are unfairly penalized for their race, while those believed to be descended from immigrants are deemed more valuable because they have a culture that understands and practices hard work, thrift, and other symbols of the Protestant work ethic.

(6.) Mexican exclusion would not come until significantly later; however, it followed many of the same contours as Asian exclusion. For a more detailed discussion, please refer to Clare Sheridan (2002), “Contested Citizenship: National Identity and the Mexican Immigration Debates of the 1920s,” Journal of American Ethnic (p.192) History 21(3): 3–35 and Ariela J. Gross (2003), “Texas Mexicans and the Politics of Whiteness,” Law and History Review 21(1): 195–205.

(7.) The 1924 act placed quotas on immigration from Eastern and Southern Europe, Asia and India, the Caribbean, and Africa. One of the key provisions of the act was to disallow individuals from immigrating to the country if they could not become citizens. This had the effect of preventing Japanese, Indians, and other Asians from entering the country because at the time, they were not allowed to naturalize.

(8.) The idea of a fit citizenry is one where those who are considered part of the body politic are those viewed as having the qualities that make for a functional society. In general, the fit citizen was one who was self-possessed and able to put aside their individual needs for the greater good. Such a person was ruled by reason rather than passion; therefore, he or she practices self-governance in a way that makes the survival of a democracy possible, because this individual is concerned with doing the best thing for the most of us. Consequently, because of prevailing norms and practices, the only individuals thought to hold the requisite characteristics for citizenship were white, male, Protestant, wealthy, and educated.

(9.) When Senator Joe Lieberman was selected to be Al Gore’s running mate in 2000, his religion became a central part of the conversation because many speculated on how Lieberman would be able to complete the duties of his position as an orthodox Jew who observes the Sabbath on Fridays. Likewise, Representative Keith Ellison (D-MN) has been heavily scrutinized as the first Muslim elected to Congress in 2007. Moreover, one of the chief oppositions to President Barack Obama was the idea that he was an undercover Muslim.

(10.) The relationship between acculturation and assimilation is similar to that of patriotism and nativism. Acculturation is the process of becoming familiar with the identity and practices of one’s new nation. However, assimilation connotes a replacement of one’s national, cultural, and ethnic identities with that of the home country such that vestiges of one’s native culture are no longer perceptible. In either case, the drive is to belong in the new nation, but the acculturation approach attempts to do so while retaining cultural markers from one’s native community, and assimilation seeks to obliterate those connections in order to be absorbed by the new, receiving context.

(11.) Dred Scott was an enslaved person who lived for two years in free territory with his owner. In Missouri, Dred Scott sued for his freedom declaring that because slavery was illegal in that territory, he was being held illegally. The Court took the case one step further and suggested Congress had overstepped its authority when they passed the Missouri Compromise in 1820. The Missouri Compromise was an attempt to contain slavery as the United States expanded westward; the idea was to permit slavery in those territories where it already existed but not to allow the expansion of this system, as Congress sought to strike a balance between slave and free states.


(12.) Native Americans were also named in the majority opinion, where the Court suggested that Native Americans were “foreigners not living under our Government.” Thus, Native Americans, according to the Dred Scott decision, would be treated as immigrants and allowed to naturalize if they wanted to live among whites.

(13.) Part of the defense of this reading of the Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution, according to Chief Justice Taney, is the idea that the Framers were too learned to have made the mistake of including enslaved Africans in the clause, “all men are created equal,” because the inclusion of blacks in the family of humankind would have been contradictory. On the contrary, as Justice Taney argued, these were great men who understood what they were writing, and some of them held slaves. Therefore, they necessarily separated black people from ideas of citizenship because black people’s incapacity for civilization doomed them to a lifetime of slavery. The Founders, being aware of this, properly understood them as belongings.

(14.) The residency requirement was extended to five years and fourteen years in subsequent revisions of the law in 1795 and 1798, respectively. The right to naturalize was broadened to Africans in 1870, Native Americans in 1924, and Chinese were allowed to naturalize in 1943 after the official Chinese exclusion policy was repealed.

(15.) Even though Proposition 187 passed, it was effectively killed after being challenged on appeal. Morris (2000) found that interminority conflict did not predict black support of Proposition 187. In fact, Morris found that blacks were more likely to support the ballot measure as their personal finances improved. Thus, black support for Proposition 187 seemed to be more a function of socioeconomic status rather than racial animus. Nevertheless, 47 percent of California’s black voters supported the measure (Cummings and Lambert 1997). However, the state NAACP and other organizations were firmly opposed to the act.

(16.) Douglass’ sympathy for the Irish people was subsequent to a visit he made to the country in 1845. It was there he witnessed the Irish famine, as well as their struggle for independence—two themes that resonated with his abolitionist activities. Because citizenship was not legally granted to blacks at this time, Douglass went to Ireland as a man without a country. Therefore, he traveled to volatile Ireland without the protection of the U.S. government (Ferreira 1999). There is a mural portraying Frederick Douglass in Belfast, Ireland, where he is regarded as a hero for the voice he gave to the Irish cause in their battles with Great Britain.

(17.) I bracket the term citizen because blacks, both slave and free, were not technically American citizens at this point; citizenship was not granted to blacks until 1868. However, blacks frequently applied this appellation to themselves despite this legal formality.


(18.) The Reconstruction period (1865–1877) was a brief moment where blacks saw their political fortunes change. With the federal government occupying the South after the Civil War, blacks were able to successfully engage the political system and elect the first representatives to state governments across the South. However, these early successes were quickly lost upon the federal government’s departure from the region. Still, the Reconstruction was not a panacea. For example, the Georgia State Legislature ejected over twenty black, duly elected officeholders in 1868. Bishop Henry McNeal Turner, a member of the African Methodist Episcopal clergy and a Civil War chaplain, was among those removed from office. His address, “On the Eligibility of Colored Members to Seats in the Georgia Legislature,” offers a great reflection on this period and the state policies used to undermine black gains made during Reconstruction.

(19.) It should be noted that this piece was run eight times verbatim in The Appeal from January 1921 to March 1921. It appeared bi-weekly in January, weekly in February, and bi-weekly in 1921. Why this particular piece ran this often is unclear, but it does suggest the urgency some blacks felt with respect to the issue and the desire to have a government that would protect their interests through tighter restrictions on immigration.

(20.) The fact that black critics of white America, particularly journalists, did so under the threat of death has to be kept in mind. Public critics of white supremacy spoke out at great peril. Ida B. Wells-Barnett was forced to flee Memphis for her writings on lynching, and her newspaper was destroyed. Similarly, the Wilmington, NC, Race Riot of 1898 began partly because Alex Manly, the editor of the black newspaper the Daily Record, condemned lynching by writing that white women willingly entered into interracial relationships with black men. Manly was forced to escape Wilmington because there was a bounty offered for his death, and the Daily Record’s offices were destroyed, as were original issues of the newspaper. The Daily Record never recovered, and Alex Manly never returned to North Carolina. Moreover, because of the riot, a number of Wilmington’s black residents fled the city. Race riots like that in Wilmington occurred in Springfield, IL (1908), East St. Louis, IL (1917), Tulsa, OK (1921), and Rosewood, FL (1923). Thus, given the racial climate of this time, any type of perceived opposition to white supremacy was dealt with by extreme shows of force. In fact, simply being black was a crime that could result in punishment. Mary Frances Berry, in her piece “Reckless Eyeballing: The Matt Ingram Case and the Denial of African American Sexual Freedom,” (2008) discusses the ways in which black bodies are criminalized.

(21.) Rayford Logan defined “the Nadir” as a period where black efforts to gain equality were fiercely resisted, legally and extra-legally. For example, the Plessy v. Ferguson (1896) decision affirmed the constitutionality of Jim Crow, lynching of black people increased, and the general retreat away from black civil rights was fairly widespread. Although Logan stopped his analysis, scholars have extended his (p.195) original periodization and argue “the Nadir” lasted until around 1940, where white supremacist behavior nationally was at its peak.

(22.) It should be noted that these were very masculinist conceptions of national belonging (Estes 2005). Although black women were as much a part of the black struggle, voting rights were not fully extended to black women until the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The right to vote was not granted to women until 1920 by the 19th Amendment, and to blacks not until 1965, doubly excluding black women.

(23.) This is not to suggest that European immigrants were not racialized. Nor is it to suggest that blacks were unaware of the ways in which whites used employed immigrants from other parts of the world, such as Asia, to undermine their efforts at employment equity, higher wages, better working conditions, and the like. What it does suggest is that blacks were far more empathetic to the motivations of immigrants of all stripes for coming to the United States, but not to the ways in which these immigrants were mobilized to retard black upward mobility.

(24.) Immigration is far from the only issue to have a dampening effect on black optimism. Events such as Hurricane Katrina, the murder of Trayvon Martin, the rollback of voting rights provisions and statewide voter intimidation initiatives, high unemployment, rampant incarceration, as well as a host of other issues, also matter. Although these issues are not the focus of this text, I wish to acknowledge their import as it pertains to the development and crystallization of black public opinion.

(25.) Groups like Choose Black America and the African American Leadership Council are exceptions. Although these groups are fronted by blacks, they cannot claim to represent black interests. In particular, Choose Black America was founded by the Federation of American Immigration Reform (FAIR), a larger, majority white, anti-immigrant organization, which discredits their claims to speaking for a general black population. Likewise, the AALC is highly critical of established black organizations such as the Congressional Black Caucus and the NAACP for being too lenient on immigration in ways that hurt black Americans. The Black American Leadership Alliance, founded in 2013, is another ardently anti-immigrant group, has organized rallies in opposition to immigration, and is opposed to any type of amnesty for undocumented persons. Despite the sensationalism surrounding these groups, they are far from mainstream organizations and do not represent the prevailing attitudes of blacks with respect to immigration as borne out by numerous public opinion polls. These groups are in no discernible way connected to black America. For example, the Pew Research Center (2006) shows that blacks generally hold positive views with respect to immigrants despite their concerns about economic competition from Latino immigrants. This mirrors work by Thornton and Mizuno (1999), which shows that blacks typically have warmer feelings toward immigrants than they do toward whites. Additionally, both the NAACP and The National Urban League (p.196) have issued statements supporting comprehensive immigration reform. This is significant because, as long-standing organizations focused on the betterment of black lives, these agencies recognize the import of immigration reform for black progress. As Marc Morial, president of the National Urban League, noted, it is important to have temporary work visas for immigrants provided there is also job training particularly for blacks and Latino citizens, so that their job prospects are not harmed by the presence of immigrants.

(26.) Marcus Garvey’s Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) focused strongly on the resettlement of black people in their ancestral homeland of Africa. Garvey’s attempts to finance this action through the ill-fated Black Star Line would be the impetus for his prosecution and subsequent incarceration in federal prison, after which he was deported to London.

(27.) A form of this black nationalist tradition of self-determination was still around in the later twentieth century as blacks experimented with alternative living practices in this country. For example, Soul City, North Carolina, was established in 1969 as one of the first model city programs in the country. The idea was to make a racially harmonious community that would serve the educational, social, health, and recreational needs of the area’s largely black rural community. Similarly, the Republic of New Africa was conceived by the Black Government Conference as a self-sustaining nation to serve the needs of black Americans. The country would be composed of majority-black states of the former Confederacy (Mississippi, Louisiana, Georgia, Alabama, and South Carolina) and would secede from the United States. The belief was that as long as blacks continued to live within the confines of a white-identified country they could never hope for true self-determination. The MOVE Organization based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, was another attempt by blacks to lead self-sustaining lives. Founded in 1972, MOVE was a small organization whose members lived communally, eschewed technology, and maintained a vegan lifestyle. Most of the members of MOVE were killed when the Philadelphia Police Department bombed their home in 1985. Eleven people, including several children, were killed by the bombing. Ramona and Birdie Africa were the only two survivors.

(28.) This has changed somewhat in the current political environment because immigration has become a much more prominent national issue. A July 2013 Gallup poll cites immigration as an important issue, but is not as salient as unemployment.

Chapter 3

(1.) This is not to suggest a majority of free blacks lived in the North. Free blacks, like the enslaved, lived primarily in the South. Still, they often lived in larger cities away from rural areas where they may have been enslaved. As Ira Berlin notes in Slaves without Masters (1975), women composed the majority of free blacks in (p.197) the South because men had a tendency to leave the region. Moreover, free blacks tended to be older than the enslaved population because they may have had to accrue the funds to buy their freedom, or their owners manumitted them when they became less valuable. Please consult Berlin for a more detailed discussion of the free black population.

(2.) Colonization has typically been used to refer to the process of inhabiting other lands for the purposes of empire building. In the case of blacks it was more akin to setting up an expatriate community, which is not typically done for the purposes of expanding national territories and influence.

(3.) The term refugee is typically used to refer to those persons who have fled their country because of conflict or various forms of persecution. An internally displaced person is similar, with the important distinction of not having crossed an international boundary. Legalities aside, I employ the terms that blacks used to describe their status during this period.

(4.) According to the United Nations, a stateless person is one without nationality or citizenship. Blacks prior to 1868 were de jure stateless people. They were essentially unclaimed by the United States as citizens; in fact, the primary legal definition for black people until this point was that of property. Thus, because of their primary status as enslaved—or at least that had been the beginning of their narrative in what would become the United States—they struggled with identifying their place in the American body politic because the country was so thoroughly bifurcated by color as slave (read as racially black) and free (read as racially white). Consequently, because race had become shorthand for who belonged and who did not, being a free black person did not confer citizenship. Black non-citizenship was affirmed by the Supreme Court decision in Dred Scott v. Sandford (1857). This is not to suggest that this was a settled matter, because the fact the Supreme Court entertained a suit filed by a black person can be read as acknowledgment that blacks were in some small measure a part of the American landscape, even though the standing of Dred Scott to bring the case was at issue. Nevertheless, the fact that black citizenship had to be conferred by Constitutional amendment, despite the colorblind language employed in the Constitution, suggests blacks were not citizens as properly understood by the Founders, as highlighted by Justice Taney in his decision. If nothing else, these seeming contradictions provide limited evidence of the uncertainty regarding blacks and their status as members of the republic. For a more detailed discussion of stateless persons, refer to the United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees (http://www.unhcr.org/4cb2fe326.html).

(5.) In 1934, as he resigned from the NAACP, DuBois delivered a speech entitled “A Negro Nation within a Nation,” wherein he reasoned that because of the indefatigable nature of white supremacy, integration would be thwarted at every turn. Because of the social segregation, blacks represented a quasi-nation within the United States because they had their own religious, educational, and economic (p.198) institutions. Therefore, blacks had to take care to nurture these institutions and use their significant educational and financial resources for the betterment of their own communities, because the majority of whites were invested in maintaining black exclusion from the public sphere. Black communities had to be invested in and focused on their own survival, and perhaps turn away from their integrationist hopes in the moment in favor of strengthening the black community.

(6.) The term emigration is usually employed when talking about the moves made on the part of black Americans because their movements were part of an exodus; essentially, they were moving out of the country. Immigration is employed to talk about people moving into a new homeland. The term chosen is largely about perspective: because of the liminal space occupied by blacks, they were both emigrants and immigrants at different points in time. Moreover, where they use the term emigrant I have preserved that usage.

(7.) Paul Cuffee was a wealthy, free man from Massachusetts. A devout Quaker of Ghanaian origin, Cuffee left Philadelphia in 1810 on an expedition to present-day Sierra Leone to investigate the possibility of black resettlement in the country. Although he remained committed to emigration, he worked outside the auspices of organizations like the ACS because of the endemic racism of these groups. For a more detailed discussion of Paul Cuffee and his work, see Lamont D. Thomas (1988), Paul Cuffee: Black Entrepreneur and Pan Africanist (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press).

(8.) In 1787 the British established a settlement in Sierra Leone, West Africa, for black Loyalists who had to leave the colonies at the conclusion of the American Revolution.

(9.) Gabriel, popularly referred to as Gabriel Prosser, was a skilled blacksmith hired out by his master. Historian Doug Egerton posits that Gabriel was probably inspired, in part, by the Haitian Revolution (1791), which established Haiti as the first independent black republic in the western hemisphere. This rebellion was supposed to take place in Richmond with the main aim of negotiating an end to slavery in the state of Virginia. The rebellion was thwarted as other enslaved persons told of the plan. Although the rebellion did not occur, the state subsequently more carefully tracked the movements of enslaved persons and was less hospitable to free blacks. In 1806, the state of Virginia passed a law requiring free blacks manumitted on or after May 1, 1806, to leave the state within a year or risk (re)enslavement; those who wished to stay in Virginia had to petition the state government for permission. In many ways, this law turned blacks into forced immigrants because the only alternative was voluntary enslavement (Maris-Wolf 2015). Conditions for blacks would only worsen in 1831 after Nat Turner’s Rebellion in Southampton County, Virginia. At this time, the state of Virginia and other southern states prohibited blacks from gathering for religious purposes without white supervision, banned all manner of education and literacy, and restricted black gun ownership.


(10.) Because of the demand for free labor, the black populations of South Carolina, Virginia, Georgia, and Mississippi outnumbered whites. For extensive maps of the slave population, see the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture’s project on Black Migration (http://www.inmotionaame.org/gallery/?migration=3&topic=7&type=map).

(11.) Henry Clay served the state of Kentucky as senator and representative in the U.S. Congress. He is best known for negotiating several compromises around the issue of slavery—most notably the Missouri Compromise (1820) and the Compromise of 1850, which effectively quelled sectional conflicts by allowing the institution of slavery to remain unchallenged.

(12.) Randolph was a U.S. congressman from Virginia who defended the institution of enslavement because his livelihood depended on the free labor of Africans. Upon his death, those he enslaved were manumitted and resettled in Ohio.

(13.) All of these states had passed or attempted to pass resolutions barring the settlement of free blacks within their borders. Pennsylvania also attempted such legislation in 1813.

(14.) Nevertheless, the ACS was founded with the idea of improving race relations by supporting the removal of blacks and sending them to Sierra Leone and Liberia. The founding of the society brought together a number of strange bedfellows. Abolitionist Quakers and members of the slave-owning elite formed the ACS with the belief that blacks’ chances for advancement would be better if they existed in a society where their skin color was not a barrier to progress. While both groups supported the move, they did so for varied reasons. Those with abolitionist leanings did not see color prejudice receding and reasoned blacks would be better off in the land of their origin. They viewed sending blacks to Africa as a form of penance for the destruction slavery had caused the continent of Africa. Moreover, those blacks who were repatriated would be able to “civilize” their African counterparts via Christianity and education. A byproduct of Africa’s development would be an end to the slave trade. If slaveholders knew they could free their property and send them away, they could feel more secure and thus be more inclined to manumit slaves. The manumitted would then go to Africa and help her develop her gifts. They reasoned that if the continent were adequately developed, she would have more to offer the world than her human cargo. Slaveholders were concerned that the presence of free blacks would increase the chance of rebellion, which is why some supported the ACS. Some believed if blacks remained anywhere in the United States they might make “common cause with the Indians and border nations, and furnish an asylum for fugitives and runaway slaves” (Sherwood 1917: 222). Thus, the importance of disconnecting free blacks from their enslaved counterparts outweighed the costs associated with their removal and relocation. The removal of free blacks from the United States was the ultimate goal of the ACS, and this was their chief concern. Their message was tailored to fit whatever region they were trying to (p.200) persuade to join their cause. This helped the ACS gain traction in white circles, but they were unable to convince a majority of blacks to buy into their ideas. Blacks would not separate the ACS’s goals from its myriad messages—all of which portrayed blacks as the source of the trouble. For a more detailed discussion see Forbes (1990: 210–223) and Sherwood (1917: 209–228).

(15.) In 1819, the federal government pledged $100,000 to the ACS. The first ship to Liberia left in 1820 and transported two whites and 88 black emigrants. These first sojourners died of yellow fever and other tropical diseases. At this time, there were approximately 2 million blacks in the United States; around 200,000 of those were free blacks.

(16.) Between 1816 and 1830, approximately 2,600 blacks were resettled in Liberia.

(17.) This meant the franchise would need to be extended to poor whites if elite whites were going to protect their social dominance. Thus, the vote was given grudgingly by elite whites who did not think highly of the uneducated mob the Founders warned against in the Federalist Papers. Nevertheless, elite whites recognized that an uncontrolled class of angry whites would not serve their ends well. As such, the first grandfather clauses were passed in 1898 following the demise of Reconstruction (1876); these laws enfranchised poor white men who heretofore had been summarily excluded from the voting rolls. By linking the right to vote with the status of one’s grandfather in 1867, white elites could still use slavery as the basis for white solidarity without extending any material gains to poor whites. By relying on racial appeals that harkened back to America’s slave-owning past, white elites gave poor white men some false sense of superiority without any corresponding change in status. This extension of racial coverture helped galvanize whites in their opposition to black attempts at social equality. Yet the only interests being served by such attempts were those of white elites, who would continue to occupy higher stations because aspirational whiteness would be enough to feed the needs of their white brethren for another century, or longer, depending on how one reads the political winds.

(18.) Some of the leaders of this meeting were James Forten, Russell Parrott, Rev. Absalom Jones, Rev. Richard Allen, Robert Douglass, Francis Perkins, and Robert Gordon.

(19.) This, however, did not mean all blacks gave up on colonization completely. Martin Delany, for example, argued that accepting white resources was a misguided reliance on their altruism. If blacks were to be truly independent they would need to emigrate with their own funds.

(20.) At the same time Garnet was the president of the Africa Colonization Society, he was working under the aegis of the Haytian [sic] Emigration Bureau, which hired him to encourage blacks to settle the island nation. Trumpeting Haiti’s distinction as the first free black country in the western hemisphere after defeating France, Garnet wrote in the Anglo-African (1860), “Hayti needs population to develope [sic] her agricultural and mineral resources and to fortify and defend her against (p.201) the invasion of the slave power of the western world” (Garnet 2004: 32). Framing emigration as a way to fend off slavery, Garnet was attempting to induce those blacks who held the nation in such esteem to emigrate there. His argument was not that Africa was less important, but that it did not need the population as urgently as Haiti.

(21.) Martin R. Delany was born free in West Virginia. He was an ardent nationalist and had his first introduction to colonization through the First Negro Convention held in Philadelphia in 1831. Although he remained dedicated to emigration throughout his life, he remained in the United States to fight the emancipation of enslaved blacks in the Union Army and because of personal obligations.

Chapter 4

(1.) Preclearance was a provision of section 4(b) of the Voting Rights Act that made covered jurisdictions seek preapproval from the Department of Justice to make any changes to the time, manner, and location of elections. This section was essentially gutted by the Supreme Court in Shelby County v. Holder (2013). The majority opinion of the Court held that preclearance is unconstitutional because the coverage formula was based on data that was over 40 years old. This made it possible for state election officials to circumvent voter protections, and ushered in a wave of voter identification measures, exact match laws, and shortening of early voting periods that had proved a boon for minority voters in previous elections. The abandonment of this provision of the Voting Rights Act has had the (unintended) consequence of legalizing, or at least countenancing, voter suppression efforts in more than half the states in the union. For a more detailed discussion of voter suppression in the aftermath of Shelby County v. Holder see Blacksher, James, and Lani Guinier. “Free at Last: Rejecting Equal Sovereignty and Restoring the Constitutional Right to Vote: Shelby County v. Holder.” Harvard Law & Policy Review 8 (2014): 39.

(2.) North Carolina has been ground zero for many of the recent fights around the retrenchment of voting rights for blacks in the state. Started by Rev. William Barber, head of the North Carolina NAACP, the Moral Mondays protests began in 2012 when Republican Governor Pat McCrory and the Republican majority legislation made moves to restrict voting rights as well as passage of a more conservative agenda that endangered the environment and various social programs. Since the beginning of this social justice movement, its model of civil disobedience has spread to other states around the country.

(3.) Atlanta, GA, is most akin to Durham, NC, in this respect. The black community of Durham began in the 1880s, and the black businesses of that city got their start in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries—earlier than other cities with large, black middle-class populations. Although lacking much of its former reverence, Durham was an extremely popular destination for blacks seeking better (p.202) fortunes. In its prime, Durham was held in great esteem by scholars (DuBois 1912; Frazier [1957] 1997) and laypersons alike, having a reputation as “Black Wall Street” because of the presence of North Carolina Mutual and Mechanics and Farmers Bank, which ultimately stimulated the growth of other black-owned businesses along Parrish Street.

(4.) North Carolina Mutual and Life Insurance Company was founded by John Merrick—barber to tobacco executive Washington Duke and multiple–business owner—and Dr. Aaron M. Moore, Durham’s first black physician. Later, Charles Clinton (C.C.) Spaulding was brought in during the company’s reorganization. Overall, there were seven men associated with the founding of the company, including Dr. James E. Shepard, founder of NCCU, and W.G. Pearson, local businessman and business associate of John Merrick.

(5.) The Mechanics and Farmers Bank was chartered by a collective of black businessmen in the city of Durham. These included R. B. Fitzgerald, J. A. Dodson, J. R. Hawkins, John Merrick, Aaron M. Moore, W. G. Pearson, James E. Shepard, G. W. Stephens, and Stanford L. Warren.

(6.) C.C. Spaulding was a well-respected Durham businessman. The son of an ex-slave, Spaulding was the president of five companies. He founded three insurance companies, a bank, and a property company.

(7.) It should be noted that blacks did live in other parts of the city; however, Hayti was the flagship neighborhood that anchored most of black life in Durham until it was greatly disabled by the building of North Carolina Highway 147. For a more detailed discussion of Hayti and other black Durham neighborhoods, consult Andre Vann and Beverly W. Jones, Durham’s Hayti (1999), and Pauli Murray’s (1999) biography Proud Shoes.

(8.) However, entrepreneurship was not a guarantee of blacks’ safety. North Carolina Mutual and Life Insurance Company built fireproof headquarters presumably because of the very real possibility of arson at the hands of white criminals (Brown and Valk 2004). Moreover, the company also provided some residential space for female employees who may have been harassed by white landlords for their association with the company as well as facing sexual harassment by white men because of their unprotected status as black women (Brown and Valk 2004).

(9.) The North Carolina College for Negroes was renamed the North Carolina Central University in 1969 after undergoing several name changes. Founded by Dr. James E. Shepard and chartered in 1909 as a religious training school, the university opened in 1910 and later became a teacher’s college for blacks with the help of Mrs. Russell Sage (Anderson 1990). By 1925 the school was expanded to a liberal arts college, and by the 1940s it began to incorporate graduate training. By the 1970s North Carolina Central University was a regional university joining the Consolidated University of North Carolina system.


(10.) According to Gershenhorn, at the time of the Hocutt case North Carolina had more college and normal school students than any other segregated state (2001: 283).

(11.) Hocutt was unable to include a certified transcript with his application because James Shepard refused to send the transcript to UNC. UNC would not accept an unofficial transcript sent directly by Hocutt (Anderson 1990). Although this technical detail did not matter much, it should be noted UNC’s pharmacy program was an undergraduate program, thus it was argued by Hocutt’s legal team that a college transcript was not needed.

(12.) Shepard was still reeling from a public relations fiasco in 1930 where he supported John J. Parker, a Supreme Court nominee put forward by Herbert Hoover. The black community stood against Shepard because Parker was very vocal in his denial of black voting rights. As such, in 1933 at the time of the Hocutt case, Shepard could not afford another public dust-up with the black community. Although the Depression heightened Shepard’s anxiety about continued funding for NCCN from whites, he depended on the black community for the conferral of legitimacy and authority as a leader. Because the majority of blacks were in favor of Hocutt’s efforts, Shepard and Spaulding were very careful in how they approached this case.

(13.) All parties, including the national NAACP, agreed an appeal in the Hocutt case was a lost cause given the state’s racial climate and the fact that Hocutt was not a strong student. Still, they opted not to refile the case rather than to bump Hocutt as the lead plaintiff, citing Hocutt’s bravery in participating in the case. Alas, the case was never appealed, and Hocutt never became a pharmacist. Hocutt relocated to New York City where he worked for the transit authority.

(14.) For a more detailed history of the founding and legacy of the North Carolina Central University College of Law, please refer to “So Far” (http://law.nccu.edu/wordpress/img/uploads/2010/09/so-far-2009.pdf).

(15.) By 1953 activism had reached new heights in Durham; there had been a race riot in the Hayti neighborhood, and a 16-year-old girl was fined for refusing to go to the back of the bus (both events occurred in 1943). Also, by 1944 two black police officers were added to the Durham police force. Moreover, the prosperity of Durham’s black community was recognized nationally by a feature in Ebony magazine.

(16.) It should be noted that because Durham had such a high number of black registered voters at the passage of the Voting Rights Act (1965), this county was not covered by the Act. The same is true of Wake and Orange counties. Given the disastrous Supreme Court decision in Shelby County v. Holder (2013), key provisions of the VRA, such as preclearance, have been struck down, and now approximately 40 counties are no longer covered by Section 5 of the VRA.

(17.) These cases consolidated after initially being filed in 1960 for the dismantling of segregation in the Durham County and city school systems. This case effectively (p.204) pushed Durham city and county to form a unitary school district. This case would be revisited several times as the plaintiffs continually sought further relief, especially in light of Supreme Court rulings such as Green v. School Board of New Kent County (1968). This ruling found the freedom of choice plans being used by the different Durham administrative school units to address segregation to be inadequate to disassemble school segregation. However, the Wheeler case would not be settled well into the 1970s, with other administrative matters surrounding the case not settled until the early 1980s.

(18.) The Merger Issues Task Force was followed by the Merger Vision Task Force, which reviewed the initial report and recommended a merger of the school systems (Apostoleris 2018).

(19.) In 2002 the local NAACP, under the leadership of Curtis Gatewood, filed complaints with the Department of Education charging that Superintendent Ann Denlinger, a white woman, violated the policy on site-based decision-making committees when she fired the principal of Hillside High School, a historically black high school, replacing him without the input of this committee. The complaint claimed that Denlinger had destabilized the learning environment of Hillside High School because of her constant administrative changes (Cyna 2019; Herriott 2001). Moreover, Denlinger aroused further anger when she required 24 Hillside employees to reapply for their positions (Abram 2002; WRAL 2002b). Another investigation was launched by the Office of Civil Rights in 1998 after the Durham Committee for the Affairs of Black People charged that black students were being unfairly suspended and placed in remedial and special education classes. The Office of Civil Rights came to the conclusion that these charges were unfounded subsequent to an 18-month investigation. Another lawsuit was heard in 2007 regarding the targeting of black students for suspension (WRAL 2007). This case was subsequently dismissed.

(20.) According to Durham Public Schools, black students are 44.7% of the public school students; 30.7% are Hispanic/Latino; and 18.8% are white. For more information on the demographic breakdown, please refer to durham.schoolwires.net// site/Default.aspx?PageID=324. As of the 2016, blacks make up approximately 37% of the city’s 254,620 residents; the remainder of the city is 42 percent non-Hispanic White, 4 percent Asian, and 14 percent Latino (of any race). For a more detailed breakdown of Durham city and county by race, please see the U.S. Census.

(21.) Communal narratives, also called creation stories, are ubiquitous. In some cases these are based on genetics, others around culture or geography. Regardless of their orientation, these narratives are considered constitutive of group identity and provide the “roots” of a group’s ongoing connection, thereby guarding against potential cultural dislocation. In sum, these narratives provide a fairly stable basis for the existence of a group and its members that is considered necessary and valuable.


(22.) Although there were free blacks, the institution of slavery necessarily bounded their freedom because of their racial identity as black people. Thus, the free black experience was different, but nonetheless connected to those enslaved. In fact, free blacks were very active in the abolition movement, and in many cities, like Philadelphia, they organized mutual aid societies and other efforts to assist escaped slaves and those relocating to free states (Hershberg 1971). For a more thorough discussion of free blacks and their activism, see Leon Litwack’s North of Slavery: The Negro in the Free States (2009) and Horton and Horton’s In Hope of Liberty: Culture, Community and Protest among Northern Free Blacks, 1700–1860 (1996).

(23.) Although thirteen is not a large number, it has been demonstrated that for non-probabilistic samples, themes are made apparent in as early as six interviews. Moreover, “saturation,” the point at which the researcher ceases to discover new information by the inclusion of additional participants, is reached in approximately twelve interviews (Guest, Bunce, and Johnson 2006). Although I can hardly determine causation from the number of interviews I have, this is not the purpose of these interviews. I use the interviews to provide an understanding of the ways blacks talk about immigration, which is the crux of public opinion. Everyday talk has been shown to provide the best evidence for what black people think (Harris-Lacewell 2004; Price 2009; Sawyer 2005). Surveys are a way to measure certain ideas, but they are limited by the imagination and resources of their creators. The interview is another tool that can give us important insights, albeit in a different fashion and with more nuance.

(24.) This is to suggest that in a moment where there is a black president, yet the Supreme Court has been steadily eroding the force of the Voting Rights Act, it would seem that greater equality for black people is on the wane. Indeed, it has been argued by Perea (1997) and others (Bell 1993; Von Eschen 1997) that black people only received greater social inclusion when it became important for the United States’ interests, as in the Cold War. Another important part of these moments was the organizing activities of black people (Parker 2009; Von Eschen 1997).

(25.) In Democracy and the Foreigner (2001), Honig argues that immigrants are symbols of renewal. Immigrants reaffirm our beliefs in the nation and its principles at times when we are undergoing great challenge. For example, Honig explains that stories of immigrants’ successes at a time of economic distress, such as during economic recession, function to renew the belief of the less successful native-born in upward mobility, despite rampant unemployment. In this way, immigrants allow us to remain hopeful about our future economic progress despite indicators that would suggest otherwise. By renewing our collective faith in the bedrock principles of hard work and economic success, the core principles of capitalism that structure such negative outcomes remain unchallenged.


(26.) In her text, Facing Up to the American Dream, Jennifer Hochschild describes the “American Dream” as an ideology that suggests and “individual can attain success and virtue through strenuous effort.” Those groups who are not successful are viewed as somehow deficient because they are seen as having poor cultural values that do not support social progress. This is a particularly pernicious myth that has plagued black communities for decades but became more crystallized with the infamous Moynihan Report that blamed a “pathological” black culture for upholding a “culture of poverty” antithetical to American virtues of hard work, thrift, and delayed gratification (Nunnally and Carter 2012). Hochschild finds the most likely culprit of this lack of success as the nation’s failure to provide enough access to those institutions we know create the kind of success the American Dream espouses.

(27.) In 2013, a Tea Party operative by the name of Glynis Racine sent a Twitter message that read “White Irish slavers were treated worse than any other race in the US. When is the last time you heard an Irishman bitching & moaning about how the world owes them a living?” The offending message, though it does not mention black people by name, attempts to shame black people into leaving the legacy of slavery behind, which she reads as both historically inaccurate because some Irish people were enslaved, and as “bitching & moaning” by blacks who are simply holding onto the legacy of enslavement in an effort to receive a handout, presumably from the government. Although the offending tweet was quickly removed, her follow-up message read, “Slavery is a black mark on American history, but it’s time to move on.” Again, imploring those who commemorate slavery as woefully stuck “back there” and unable to move on, failing to acknowledge that neither she nor any other person can tell black people when it’s “time to move on,” and that people do not want to leave the legacy of slavery behind because that would be, in many ways, leaving themselves behind. To read more about this incident, coverage can be found here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/12/18/tea-party-racist-tweet_n_4467221.html. More recently, the fight to remove, or preserve, Confederate statues curiously mirrored many of these same conversations—except whites reacted violently to the removal of these monuments to white supremacy. In Charlottesville, VA, protests by white supremacist groups and their sympathizers resulted in the death of Heather Heyer, other injured persons, and property damage.

(28.) Although there are no strict rules for responsible group membership, there have been ongoing discussions within the black community about what it means to be a member of the racial group. Many of these conversations were not simply about political preferences but also about individual behaviors and how they reflect on the esteem of the group (Cohen 1999; Gaines 1996; Griffin 2000; Kelly 2010; White 2007; Wolcott 1997). Often called the politics of respectability, early efforts on the part of blacks adhered to these principles, which preached moral rectitude and good values as the key to group success. Although this has (p.207) shifted over time, it is clear there is something called a black community self-identified racial group that members value. Further, this identity has real political implications, as authors as diverse as Dawson (2001), Greer (2013), Harris, Sinclair-Chapman, and McKenzie (2006), Harris-Perry (2011), Nunnally (2012), Parker (2009), and Price (2009) have demonstrated. Although prosecuting racial group interests is one of the outcomes of responsible group membership, group solidarity can have differential outcomes for different group members. For example, group members of nonconforming sexualities, women, and/or poor may not have their interests acknowledged, if represented at all, and many deny their individual needs so as to not besmirch the identity of the larger group, especially when that group, like blacks, has a stigmatized public identity (Nunnally and Carter 2012; Carter and Pérez 2015; Cohen 1997, 1999).

(29.) Justice Harlan was the sole dissenter to the Supreme Court’s “separate but equal” logic in the Plessy v. Ferguson case. Nevertheless, although Harlan frames his dissent based on a reading of the U.S. Constitution as a colorblind document, he clearly has a view of racial hierarchy that places white citizens as top-tiered citizens. He does not view whites as in any danger because of their numerical superiority; he does see the potential for white supremacy to be threatened by fomenting distrust among the black population because of this ruling, which suggests blacks do not have enough self-control to sit in train cars alongside whites. In short, according to Harlan, allowing blacks to avail themselves of public facilities will not bring about the equality of races in all spheres. For a complete reading of Harlan’s decision, see Plessy v. Ferguson 163 U.S. 537, 229 (1896). To see a legal analysis of the Harlan dissent, see Haney-Lopez (2007), “A Nation of Minorities”: Race, Ethnicity, and Reactionary Colorblindness, Stanford Law Review 59(4): 985–1063.

(30.) Although the Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education (1954) is often cited as the dissolution of segregation because it overturned the “separate but equal” rule of the Plessy v. Ferguson case, these practices would continue well into the 1960s because states were able to maneuver around these dictates, and the “all deliberate speed” clause of the Brown decision was sufficiently vague that states could avoid acting on the directive immediately.

(31.) There are many events that individuals may not experience personally or in a profound way (because of distance or lack of interest), but they can form some recollection of it because of the significance of that event. For example, September 11, 2001, had a significant impact on many Americans who were separated from the primary zones of attack. However, because the event was framed as an attack on “us” (i.e., America) and it was covered as the most significant terrorist attack on the nation, over and above the Oklahoma City bombing, that moment has a special place in American collective memory and identity. In contradistinction to September 11 is the enslavement period. Although this period is arguably one of the most traumatic for this country, and not only for black people, this (p.208) trauma is not framed or experienced as an “American tragedy.” Despite the institution of slavery being the catalyst for the Civil War, this nation is far more comfortable venerating these battles than the lives of black people who were the lynchpin of this historical moment. Although I do not wish for black people to be caricatured as enslaved persons for the purposes of recreating the past, this nation has not had a full discussion on slavery or race. The attempts to do so often have been thwarted or never fully realized. The Clinton Forum on Race circa 1992 was heralded as this moment, but the report from this moment was largely ignored, and none of the measures the working group suggested were ever addressed. For a more detailed discussion about the psychology of memory, see Pennebaker, Rim, and Paez 2013).

(32.) There are different terminologies used by scholars of memory, such as “collective,” “social,” and “cultural.” These differences are largely about disciplinary approach rather than disagreement about the important social considerations in memory creation, production, and perpetuation. Although I do not attempt to adjudicate these issues here, for the sake of clarity I refer to “collective memory” throughout this chapter, yet retain the authors’ language when discussing their theories.

(33.) Unlike September 11, the trauma of enslavement and the Jim Crow period are collectively ignored, if not outright denied, because the so-called black experience is viewed in many ways as separate and apart from the American experience. Instead, America is characterized as being part of a legacy of resistance from Great Britain, the Founding, and the documents of this founding moment. However, Abdel-Nour argues that national responsibility is ours by virtue of our national identity. Thus, for us to claim the triumphs of the Founding we also have to accept responsibility for the terrors of this time, such as enslavement. As he states, “an Individual incurs a national responsibility for actions performed by others (dead or alive) when she actively associates herself in a very specific way with these actions” despite the length of time that has passed (Abdel-Nour 2003: 694). Yet, the responsibility for the egregious treatment of blacks in the recent past is not something the United States has managed well. For example, there has yet to be more than a tepid acknowledgement of responsibility for the harm caused to blacks in specific cases of terrorism, like the Wilmington, NC Race Riots of 1898 and the Tulsa, OK Race Riots of 1921.

(34.) Voter identification laws have either been enacted or have been placed on the legislative agenda in 30 states. These laws typically increase the identification necessary to register to vote. They have been criticized as thinly veiled measures to discourage voters of color who are not as likely to have the various forms of identification required by these new state laws (i.e., social security cards, birth certificates, state-issued photo identification) and the least likely to feel politically efficacious and turn out. Further, some critics argue that by requiring state-issued photo identification and/or birth certificates, which are not provided for (p.209) free, these laws would have the effect of making people pay for the privilege to vote, which is illegal (Gaskins and Iyer 2012). Thus, these laws do not and are not devised to stop virtually nonexistent voter fraud. They are in place to prevent chronic nonvoters from even attempting to participate through intimidation. In October 2013, a North Carolina Republican operative, Don Yelton, admitted on “The Daily Show” that these laws were meant to hurt black voters and deprive Democrats of their votes.

(35.) Emantic Bradford, Jr. was shot in the back three times on Thanksgiving 2018 after being misidentified as a mall shooter. Twenty-one-year-old Chavis Carter was found shot in the head inside an Arkansas police cruiser in summer 2012. Mr. Carter was in the company of two white men when they were pulled over for suspicious activity. However, he was the only person detained by the police. Although Mr. Carter died while in police custody, no formal charges were brought against the officers. An unarmed Jonathan Farrell was shot ten times by a police officer that he was running toward for help after a traumatic car accident. The officer who killed the recent college graduate has been charged with voluntary manslaughter. In 2014, John Crawford was killed by a police officer inside of an Ohio Walmart holding a BB gun sold by the store. In 2015, Freddie Gray died while in police custody due to spinal cord injuries. Six officers were charged in his death but were either acquitted or not prosecuted. In 2018, Botham Jean was shot and killed in his home by Dallas office Amber Guyger who wrongfully entered Mr. Jean’s home. She is currently awaiting trial on the charge of manslaughter.

(36.) My mother, like my father, both graduated from segregated high schools and attended historically black colleges despite the passage of Brown v. Board of Education (1954). In fact, many of the public accommodations in my mother’s hometown that would have had to be integrated, such as schools and movie theaters, were either privatized or shuttered. The trend toward creating private schools that were de facto “white only” institutions to circumvent school desegregation has been well documented (Clotfelter 1976; Ryan 2004; Walder and Cleveland 1971). To date, there is not a movie theater in Warrenton, NC.

(37.) Names of respondents have been changed to protect their anonymity.

(38.) The term “lady” was highly contested because it was a term used exclusively for upper class, respectable white women (Barnard 1993; Feimster 2009; Sharpley-Whiting 1995). Therefore, calling a black adult a “boy” or “girl” was not viewed as impolitic among whites. It would have been unfathomable to bestow a title of respect on a black person, especially by a white person. In a similar fashion, the practice of calling black adults either “Uncle” or “Aunt” was another way to avoid having to show deference by using the titles Mr. or Mrs. In his seminal book, The Miseducation of the Negro, Carter G. Woodson argues some white men would go so far as to not wear hats when in the presence of blacks so as to not have to remove or tip it to a black woman, as was customary.


(39.) South Carolina was the target of an NAACP boycott in the late 1990s because of the state’s insistence on flying the Confederate flag over the statehouse, which it had done since 1962. The media attention and boycott embarrassed the state and cost it significant tourist revenues. As a result, the South Carolina legislature retired the Confederate flag from the statehouse in 2000. However, the flag was moved to a prominent place in front of the Capitol next to a monument honoring Confederate soldiers. It was not until 2015, subsequent to the brutal Charleston, SC church shootings by white gunman Dylann Roof, which left nine black parishioners dead at Emanuel A.M.E. Church, that Gov. Nikki Haley, a Republican, signed a bill to discontinue the use of the Confederate flag altogether. For a more significant discussion of the Confederate flag and its history, see Woliver, Ledford, and Dolan (2001).

(40.) Post-racial language has pervaded the conversation of contemporary race relations since the first election of Barack Obama in 2008. Because white voters turned out to vote for Obama in numbers not anticipated and never seen before for a black candidate, some suggested we were getting to a place where race mattered less than it had in prior generations. This myth of a post-racial world has quickly been debunked by multiple scholars and journalists who demonstrate the bifurcation of the nation along racial lines despite the election of Obama (Bonilla-Silva 2010; Mukherjee 2016; Ohl and Potter 2013; Tabak 2010). In fact, some argue the election of a black president and increasing prominence of minorities have left us more polarized than ever before, because whites have reacted negatively to their declining dominance in U.S. society and elected Donald Trump.

(41.) This is not to suggest members of different racial groups are opposed to supporting representatives from other racial groups. However, it has been shown that those who are high identifiers with their group are more apt to desire a same-race representative. Furthermore, it has been shown in some instances that the election of different-raced individuals will not necessarily mean other groups will be harmed. For example, Meier et al. (2004) find that in situations where there are more minority administrators, minority students tend to do better. This suggests minority representation, from any group, can be a boon for all minority students.

(42.) Although it is clear that other groups besides Latinos are recognized as immigrants (i.e., Asians), the presence of immigrants from other regions is not discussed primarily because of the questions I asked and the many ways in which black ethnics are obscured on the landscape because they are largely subsumed by the larger category of blackness, given the ways in which race operates in this country (Greer 2013; Rogers 2006). Moreover, although the southern region of the United States is being dominated by Latino immigration, the conversation in this space mirrors the conversation happening at the national level, which overlooks immigrants from Africa and the Caribbean.


(43.) According to the Office of Management and Budget that administers the U.S. Census, Latino is not a racial category. Rather, Latino is an ethnic category whose members can be of any race. This means Latinos are not technically counted as a race. Nevertheless, the majority of Latinos in the United States choose the “white” racial category. For a more detailed rationale, see “Overview of Race and Hispanic Origin: 2010” by Karen R. Humes, Nicholas A. Jones, and Robert R. Ramirez (http://www.census.gov/prod/cen2010/briefs/c2010br-02.pdf).

(44.) The extent to which Latinos will remain better off is hard to forecast. Nevertheless, Sears and Savalei (2006) argue that Latinos exhibit a high degree of group consciousness, but this tendency weakens over time as group members become more acculturated. To the extent that blacks continue to experience racial discrimination, this will continue to condition their political consciousness. Consequently, Sears and Savalei suggest the color line will continue to discipline blacks in ways that it does not other minorities, including Latinos.

(45.) Religion was a major concern with Southern and Eastern European immigrants, as well. Anti-Catholicism and anti-Semitism were prevalent in the United States. However, because of their skin color, in most cases, these European groups were passable as racially “white.” However, this racial logic excluded Asian people as potential inheritors of whiteness. For example, in the Bhagat Singh Thind (1923) case the Supreme Court ruled that for the purposes of naturalization, Indian persons did not meet the criteria of racial whiteness despite the fact they were understood as “Aryan.” Moreover, it was also believed that other Asian people had a permissive culture rife with drug abuse and a desire to have access to white women (Lui 2009).

(46.) This notion of a middle tier of racial categorization with respect to Latinos has been explored by Dávila (2008) and O’Brien (2008). The basic argument is that a white supremacist racial hierarchy is self-interested in its own preservation. To do so, some racial categories are selected to act as buffers between privileged whites and relatively lower-status groups by providing these middle-status groups with some benefits. This prevents organized opposition from lower-status groups, because those in the middle statuses are relatively better off and more content with their racial place in the hierarchy.

(47.) This statement has to be qualified with respect to Arab Americans and those deemed “Arab-looking,” such as South Asians post-9/11 who found themselves under scrutiny and in some cases physically assaulted because they were deemed “Muslim” and therefore terrorists (Sekhon 2003). The “us” versus “them” discourse changed the ways in which people viewed those with darker skin who may have been viewed with some degree of favorability prior to this moment (Kinder and Kam 2010).

(48.) This is a reference to an unauthenticated speech allegedly delivered by a white man named Willie Lynch in the eighteenth century. Entitled “The Making of a Slave,” and variously referred to as the “Willie Lynch Letter,” this document (p.212) advocates keeping black people enslaved by controlling their minds and sowing seeds of dissension within the group by pitting them against each other using devices such as skin color and the like. The idea was to prevent blacks from gaining liberation by enslaving their minds, thereby preventing intragroup unity. Still, the content of this piece retains some cultural significance in black communities and is shorthand for a type of thinking that is antithetical to racial unity and black mobility.

(49.) It is important to note that many constituencies of the Los Angeles community where the riots took place were looting. Yet, it is the image of the black rioter cum looter in a protracted battle with Korean merchants that received the majority of media coverage. For a discussion of this dynamic, see the works of Abelman and Lie (1995), Johnson, Jones, Farrell, and Oliver (1993) and Ikemoto (1993).

(50.) It is worth noting that many of these small businesses, particularly Korean- and Chinese-owned companies, rely on social networks for start-up funds (Bates 1997).

(51.) This is clearly not the case. For example, Latinos were at the forefront of civil rights protests, particularly in the western United States, and Asian Americans have been represented, albeit in a more limited capacity, in these same struggles (Donato 1996; Iijima 1997; Maeda 2005; Tamayo 1995). Still, it has been shown that blacks are viewed as angry troublemakers (Hugenberg and Bodenhausen 2003; Powers 2005; Russell-Brown 2009).

Chapter 5

(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)