American Race Policy

This graduate level seminar traces the evolution of race policy in the United States from the development of the color line, through the struggle for equal rights, to alternative forecasts about the role of race in America’s future. The course uses this particular issue as an example of the policy-making process. Thus, we will examine key steps in policy-making: issue definition, solution, implementation, evaluation, and so on. We also will examine the principal components of policy: classification, assignment, allocation, and justification.
The term “race policy” is of recent vintage – the past decade or so. There is a huge amount of literature about race as viewed through the lenses of particular disciplines – history, sociology, psychology, politics, economics – but there is not much literature about race as a policy arena. This is ironic, considering the central role of race in American life. It also is an interesting contrast with other important issues such as health, education, the environment, and national security, all of which have well-established bodies of policy literature.
From 1790 through 1952, Congress limited naturalization to immigrants who were “free white persons”; and for many decades, Asians were not permitted to immigrate into the United States. A course about American race policy should, therefore, consider policies governing immigration and citizenship.
Principal Texts:

Taylor Branch, Parting the Waters: America in the King Years, 1954-63, (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1988).

W.E.B. DuBois, The Souls of Black Folk (any edition).

Ariela Gross, What Blood Won’t Tell: A History of Race on Trial in America (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2008).

Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and John Jay, The Federalist Papers (any edition).

Ian Haney Lopez, White by Law: The Legal Construction of Race, (New York: New York University Press, 2006).

Melvin Oliver and Thomas Shapiro, Black Wealth, White Wealth, (New York: Routledge, 2006).

Edward Telles, Race in Another America: The Significance of Skin Color in Brazil, (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2004).

Peter Schuck, Citizens, Strangers, and In-Betweens: Essays on Immigration and Citizenship, (Boulder, CO: Westview, 1998).