Category Archives: Race
New Article: Maritza Reyes, Opening Borders: African Americans and Latinos Through the Lens of Immigration, 17 Harv. Latino L. Rev. 1 (2014). Abstract below:
African-American and Latino voter turnout during the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections hit record numbers. Polls show that the immigration debate influenced Latino voter turnout and preference. Presidential candidate Barack Obama’s voiced support of comprehensive immigration reform strengthened his lead among Latino voters in 2008 and, once in office, his executive policy of granting temporary protection to DREAMers solidified his lead among Latino voters in 2012. Both elections showed the power that minority groups can exert when they vote in support of the same candidate. If the demographic changes continue as currently estimated, African Americans and Latinos will contribute in large part to the making of the United States into a “majority-minority” nation and will play an increasingly important role in local and national politics. Therefore, it is important for Americans to become more inclusive of all minority groups and to expand discussions of race relations beyond the Black-White paradigm and discussions about immigration beyond the Latino-White paradigm.
As the polarized reactions to the Zimmerman verdict showed, there is much work to be done as the people of the United States continue the project of forming “a more perfect Union.” Honest assessments of how individuals and groups interact are crucial to opening borders and encouraging exchanges beyond socially constructed boundaries, like race, and racialized politics. African Americans and Latinos often compete with each other for political representation and other resources. In addition, the political consideration of immigration law and policy includes a racial dimension that is often camouflaged, but denial and silence about this reality do nothing to move the country forward. Therefore, immigration provides an opportunity to examine race relations and the potential for inter-group coalitions between African Americans and Latinos. For this reason, this Article also explores, through the lens of immigration, the role that race may play in the attitudes of African Americans and Latinos toward each other. One of the goals of this Article is to spark a candid dialogue that promotes a better understanding of race and its impact on interactions between African Americans and Latinos in the United States.
New Report: “Concentration of Poverty in the New Millennium: Changes in the Prevalence, Composition, and Location of High-Poverty Neighborhoods”
New Report: Paul Jargowsky, Concentration of Poverty in the New Millennium: Changes in the Prevalence, Composition, and Location of High-Poverty Neighborhoods (2013). Abstract below:
Concentration of Poverty in the New Millennium, authored by TCF fellow and CURE director Paul A. Jargowsky, is the first to compare the 2000 census data with the 2007-11 American Community Survey (ACS), revealing the extent to which concentrated poverty has returned to, and in some ways exceeded, the previous peak level in 1990.
[NOTE: Updated figures for the 2008–2012 period are available here.]
Concentrated poverty is defined as census tracts where more than 40 percent of households live below the federal poverty threshold, currently set at approximately $23,000 per year for a family of four.
“In the USA, there are now more census tracts of concentrated poverty than have ever been recorded before, resulting in more than 11 million Americans, or 4 percent of the population, living in severely distressed neighborhoods,” said Jargowsky.
“The increase in concentrated poverty was highest in the Midwest, which experienced a 132 percent increase in the number of people living in high poverty neighborhoods, to 2.7 million; followed by the South, which suffered a 66 percent increase to 4.6 million.”
The Century Foundation/CURE report further reveals that the most significant increases in concentrated poverty occurred., not in the major cities, but rather in small to mid-sized metropolitan areas.
New Article: Tomiko Brown-Nagin, The Civil Rights Canon: Above and Below, 123 Yale L.J. 2574 (2014). Abstract below:
This essay builds on the constitutional history of the civil rights movement from below to complement and complicate the canon identified in We the People: The Civil Rights Revolution. Like Professor Ackerman’s work, this essay embraces the concept of popular sovereignty: it is a powerful resource for social movements seeking constitutional change. However, this essay expands the “who” and the “what” of the civil rights era’s constitutional vision beyond the public figures and antidiscrimination statutes to which We the People attaches great significance. Ackerman’s civil rights canon emanates from officialdom—Lyndon Johnson, Hubert Humphrey, and Everett Dirksen—and a single representative of the civil rights movement, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Antidiscrimination statutes—the Civil Rights Act (CRA), Voting Rights Act (VRA), and Fair Housing Act (FHA)—comprise the canon. This essay argues that A. Philip Randolph, Bayard Rustin, Ella Baker, and the new abolitionists of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC)—representatives of the grassroots and proponents of an economic vision of equality—also were architects of a civil-rights-era canon.
These avant-garde figures, often critics of the Democratic Party, pushed Dr. King and federal officials to pursue economic citizenship as a component of a new constitutional vision of equality. In the Equal Opportunity Act (EOA), the heart of the War on Poverty, this element of the movement partly realized some of its economic goals. These activists contributed to change during the civil rights era in the absence of formal power in legislatures and courts, and pressed states and local people to implement (or ratify) locally relevant elements of the national civil rights agenda. Because this activism was tethered to local communities and local concerns, these activists personify popular sovereignty in its truest meaning.
The exclusion of such mobilized and organized citizens as agents of political influence—as elemental to the “we” in “We the People”— reveals two conceptual limitations in We the People’s canonization project. First, it denies voice, agenda-setting power, and historical significance to the same classes of persons denied full citizenship and left outside of the corridors of power when the drafting and ratification of the Constitution originally took place. Second, We the People’s imperfect version of history results in an inaccurate description of civil rights constitutionalism. It conceives “higher lawmaking” as the byproduct of power brokers who leverage institutional power and achieve consensus about the meaning of equality through assent by electoral majorities. A more descriptively accurate and normatively desirable account of civil rights constitutionalism would concede historical and ongoing contest over the meaning of equality.
New Article: ““A Stone of Hope”: The Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Its Impact on the Economic Status of Black Americans”
New Article: Jenny Bourne, “A Stone of Hope”: The Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Its Impact on the Economic Status of Black Americans, 74 La. L. Rev. 1195 (2014).
New Article: Lauren Sudeall Lucas, Undoing Race? Reconciling Multiracial Identity with Equal Protection, 102 Calif. L. Rev. 1243 (2014). Abstract below:
The number of multiracial individuals in America, many of whom define their racial identity in different ways, has grown dramatically in recent years and continues to increase. From this demographic shift a movement seeking unique racial status for multiracial individuals has emerged. The multiracial movement is distinguishable from other race-based movements in that it is primarily driven by identity rather than the quest for political, social, or economic equality. It is not clear how equal protection doctrine, which is concerned primarily with state-created racial classifications, will or should accommodate multiracialism. Nor is it clear how to best reconcile the recognition of individual identity with the continuing need to address group-based racial discrimination and subordination. In this Essay, I explore the potential impact of multiracialism — and multiracial identity in particular — on the future of racial classifications under equal protection doctrine.
As a framework for its analysis, the Essay invokes two theories used to interpret the meaning of equal protection: antisubordination and anticlassification. Viewed solely through the lens of multiracial identity, the common normative understanding of these two approaches contorts. While antisubordination is often perceived as more beneficial for groups battling entrenched racial hierarchy, it may facilitate unique harms for multiracial individuals seeking to carve out a racial identity distinct from traditionally defined racial categories. And although anticlassification is often viewed by progressives as detrimental to the pursuit of true racial equality, it may lend more support to policies of racial self-identification and the recognition of a unique multiracial identity. A looming danger, therefore, is that anticlassification advocates wishing to dismantle frameworks rooted in traditional notions of race may exploit multiracialism to “undo” race and to undermine the use of racial classifications altogether.
In response to that possibility, this Essay argues that although law and identity inevitably inform and impact one another, they also serve distinct purposes that should not be improperly conflated in the context of multiracialism. The construction of identity is ultimately a very personal endeavor, and although legal recognition may be one aspect of identity, in the area of race, the law has a more powerful function to play in preventing racial subordination. Where possible, the law should accommodate multiracial individuals who wish to define their own racial identity, but as long as it remains more aspirational than realistic, the individual’s perception of race should not be used or manipulated to undermine the use of racial classifications to counter societal race discrimination.
New Book: “The Long Shadow: Family Background, Disadvantaged Urban Youth, and the Transition to Adulthood”
New Book: Karl Alexander et al., The Long Shadow: Family Background, Disadvantaged Urban Youth, and the Transition to Adulthood (2014). Overview below:
West Baltimore stands out in the popular imagination as the quintessential “inner city”—gritty, run-down, and marred by drugs and gang violence. Indeed, with the collapse of manufacturing jobs in the 1970s, the area experienced a rapid onset of poverty and high unemployment, with few public resources available to alleviate economic distress. But in stark contrast to the image of a perpetual “urban underclass” depicted in television by shows like The Wire, sociologists Karl Alexander, Doris Entwisle, and Linda Olson present a more nuanced portrait of Baltimore’s inner city residents that employs important new research on the significance of early-life opportunities available to low-income populations. The Long Shadow focuses on children who grew up in west Baltimore neighborhoods and others like them throughout the city, tracing how their early lives in the inner city have affected their long-term well-being. Although research for this book was conducted in Baltimore, that city’s struggles with deindustrialization, white flight, and concentrated poverty were characteristic of most East Coast and Midwest manufacturing cities. The experience of Baltimore’s children who came of age during this era is mirrored in the experiences of urban children across the nation.
For 25 years, the authors of The Long Shadow tracked the life progress of a group of almost 800 predominantly low-income Baltimore school children through the Beginning School Study Youth Panel (BSSYP). The study monitored the children’s transitions to young adulthood with special attention to how opportunities available to them as early as first grade shaped their socioeconomic status as adults. The authors’ fine-grained analysis confirms that the children who lived in more cohesive neighborhoods, had stronger families, and attended better schools tended to maintain a higher economic status later in life. As young adults, they held higher-income jobs and had achieved more personal milestones (such as marriage) than their lower-status counterparts. Differences in race and gender further stratified life opportunities for the Baltimore children. As one of the first studies to closely examine the outcomes of inner-city whites in addition to African Americans, data from the BSSYP shows that by adulthood, white men of lower status family background, despite attaining less education on average, were more likely to be employed than any other group in part due to family connections and long-standing racial biases in Baltimore’s industrial economy. Gender imbalances were also evident: the women, who were more likely to be working in low-wage service and clerical jobs, earned less than men. African American women were doubly disadvantaged insofar as they were less likely to be in a stable relationship than white women, and therefore less likely to benefit from a second income.
Combining original interviews with Baltimore families, teachers, and other community members with the empirical data gathered from the authors’ groundbreaking research, The Long Shadow unravels the complex connections between socioeconomic origins and socioeconomic destinations to reveal a startling and much-needed examination of who succeeds and why.
Article Review: Toni Williams, “By All Means Possible,” Jotwell, Oct. 6, 2014 (reviewing Thomas Mitchell, Growing Inequality and Racial Economic Gaps, 56 How. L. J. 849(2013)).
NOTE: it is great to see that Jotwell has expanded its coverage such that there is more space for coverage of poverty related articles.