American Race Policy

This graduate level seminar traces the evolution of race policy in the United States from the invention 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:

The principal components of policy:  classification, assignment, allocation, and justification
Key steps in the policy-making process: issue definition, political mobilization, policy resolution, implementation, and evaluation
Formal policy-making institutions – legislatures, executives, courts – and non-governmental institutions, such as the news media and interest groups, that influence policy.
The processes of policy implementation.

Usually, the story of race in America is presented as a domestic policy drama in black and white.  This course adds immigration and citizenship, because the three issues have been intertwined since the earliest days of the Republic.  The Naturalization Act of 1790 law prescribed that naturalized citizenship would be limited to “free white persons.”  Starting in the late 19th century, a series of laws restricted immigration from Asia.  The 1790 Act, combined with immigration laws that favored Western Europeans and excluded Asians, produced what Aristide Zolberg calls “a nation by design.”  Toward the end of the class, we will consider how and why those policies changed and how recent policy developments – the 1965 immigration reforms, for example -- are likely to alter American society. 

The US approach to race – its system of classification, assignment and allocation – is distinctive.  We will explore an alternative race policy regime in Brazil, which since the end of slavery has not had an equivalent to Jim Crow laws. 

The three policy arenas covered in this course – race, immigration, and citizenship – tend to occupy different spaces in scholarly writing, public policy, and political advocacy.  We will follow a similar pattern until the end of the course, when we will try to bring the three areas together.  Early on in the course, each student will be asked to choose whether his/her focus will be race/civil rights, immigration, or citizenship.  The list of books below has been subdivided accordingly. 

Principal Texts  (should be purchased by all students)

W.E.B. DuBois, The Souls of Black Folk (any edition).
Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and John Jay, The Federalist Papers (any edition).
Jennifer Hochschild, Vesla Weaver and Traci Burch, Creating a New Racial Order: How Immigration, Multiracialism, Genomics and the Young Can Remake Race in America, (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2012).

Additional texts for those especially interested in civil rights and racial inequality

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

Texts for those especially interested in US citizenship policy

Ian Haney Lopez, White by Law: The Legal Construction of Race, (New York: New York University Press, 2006).
Peter Schuck, Citizens, Strangers, and In-Betweens: Essays on Immigration and Citizenship, (Boulder, CO: Westview, 1998).

Texts for those especially interested in US immigration policy

Mae Ngai, Impossible Subjects: Illegal Aliens and the Making of Modern America (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2004)
Aristide Zolberg, A Nation by Design: Immigration Policy in the Fashioning of America, (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2008).