17.269 | Spring 2017 | Undergraduate

Race, Ethnicity, and American Politics


[B] = Berman, Ari. Give Us the Ballot: The Modern Struggle for Voting Rights in America. Picador, 2016. ISBN: 9781250094728.

[BU] = Burch, Traci. Trading Democracy for Justice: Criminal Convictions and the Decline of Neighborhood Political Participation. University of Chicago Press, 2013. ISBN: 9780226064932. [Preview with Google Books]

[D] = Desmond, Matthew, and Mustafa Emirbayer. Race in America. W. W. Norton & Company, 2015. ISBN: 9780393937657.

[F] = Frymer, Paul. Uneasy Alliances: Race and Party Competition in America. Princeton University Press, 2010. ISBN: 9780691148014. [Preview with Google Books]

[G] = Gilens, Martin. Why Americans Hate Welfare: Race, Media, and the Politics of Antipoverty Policy. University of Chicago Press, 2009. ISBN: 9780226293653. [Preview with Google Books]

[GR] = Grofman, Bernard, and Chandler Davidson. Controversies in Minority Voting: The Voting Rights Act in Perspective. Brookings Institution Press, 1992. ISBN: 9780815717515.

[M] = McClain, Paula D., and Joseph Stewart, Jr. “Can We All Get Along?”: Racial and Ethnic Minorities in American Politics. 6th edition. Westview Press, 2013. ISBN: 9780813347158.

[ME] = Mendelberg, Tali. The Race Card: Campaign Strategy, Implicit Messages, and the Norm of Equality. Princeton University Press, 2001. ISBN: 9780691070711. [Preview with Google Books]

[P] = Perlmann, Joel, and Mary C. Waters, eds. The New Race Question: How the Census Counts Multiracial Individuals. Russell Sage Foundation, 2005. ISBN: 9780871546586.

[R] = Rosenberg, Gerald N. The Hollow Hope: Can Courts Bring About Social Change? 2nd edition. University of Chicago Press, 2008. ISBN: 9780226726717. [Preview with Google Books]

[S] = Segura, Gary M., and Shaun Bowler, eds. Diversity in Democracy: Minority Representation in the United States. University of Virginia Press, 2006. ISBN: 9780813923383. [Preview with Google Books]

[W] = Whitby, Kenny J. The Color of Representation: Congressional Behavior and Black Interests: Congressional Behaviour and Black Interests. University of Michigan Press, 2000. ISBN: 9780472087020. [Preview with Google Books]

Module I: What is Race?
1 Introduction No readings assigned
History / International Comparisons
2 The American Racial Order

[D] Chapter 1: Race in the Twenty-First Century, pp. 34–41.

[D] Chapter 2: The Invention of Race, pp. 82–86.

[M] Chapter 2: Resources and Status of America’s Racial Minorities.

Sussman, Robert Wald. “There Is No Such Thing as Race.” Newsweek, November 18, 2014.

3 A Little History: How Did We Get Here?

[D] Chapter 2: The Invention of Race, pp. 55–82. 

Marx, Anthony W. “Introduction.” Chapter 1 in Making Race and Nation: A Comparison of the United States, South Africa, and Brazil. Cambridge University Press, 1998. ISBN: 9780521585903.

Swidey, Neil. “Trump’s Anti-Immigration Playbook was Written 100 Years Ago. In Boston.” Boston Globe Magazine, February 9, 2017.

Watch this data visualization

Two Centuries of US Immigration, metrocosm.com.


Those interested in the history of immigration in the US may want to check out this online syllabus from the Immigration History Research Center: 
#ImmigrationSyllabus: Essential Topics, Readings, and Multimedia that Provide Historical Context to Current Debates over Immigration Reform, Integration, and Citizenship (PDF).

Measurement and Policy
4 How Do We Measure Race / Ethnicity?

[P] Anderson, Margo J. Chapter 12: Counting by Race: The Antebellum Legacy.

American Sociological Association. “The Importance of Collecting Data and Doing Scientific Research on Race.” (PDF) 2003.

“Race and Multiracial Americans in the U.S. Census.” (PDF - 1.6MB). Chapter 1 in Multiracial in America: Proud, Diverse and Growing in Numbers. Pew Research Center, June 11, 2015.

Zimmer, Carl. “White? Black? A Murky Distinction Grows Still Murkier,” New York Times, December 24, 2014.

5 Measurement Matters

[P] Jacobson, Matthew Frye. Chapter 10: History, Historicity, and the Census Count by Race.

[P] Sollors, Werner. Chapter 11: What Race Are You?

[P] Anderson, Margo J. Chapter 12: Counting By Race: The Antebellum Legacy.

[P] Skerry, Peter. Chapter 16: Multiracialism and the Administrative State.

Zuberi, Tukufu. “Introduction.” In Thicker Than Blood: How Racial Statistics Lie. University of Minnesota Press, 2003. ISBN: 9780816639090.

Social Science Challenges
6 Discrimination and Causality Panel on Methods for Assessing Discrimination. “Executive Summary.” In Measuring Racial Discrimination. National Academies Press, 2004. ISBN: 9780309091268.
7 Some Methods

Gelman, Andrew, Jeffrey Fagan, et al. “An Analysis of the New York City Police Department’s ‘Stop-and-Frisk’ Policy in the Context of Claims of Racial Bias.” Journal of the American Statistical Association 102, no. 479 (2007): 813–23.

Kohler-Hausmann, Issa. “Detecting Discrimination in Policing (or, the Dangers of Counterfactual Causal Thinking…).” Balkinization, August 13, 2015.

White, Ariel, Noah Nathan, et al. “New Evidence Shows Election Officials Are Biased Against Latino Voters,” Washington Post, February 18, 2015.

Module II: Public Opinion and Behaviour
Racial Attitudes: Measurement and Effects
8 Introduction to Racial Attitudes

Harris-Lacewell, Melissa V. “The Heart of the Politics of Race: Centering Black People in the Study of White Racial Attitudes.” Journal of Black Studies 34, no. 2 (2003): 222–49.

Tesler, Michael, and David O. Sears. “Introduction: Obama as Post-Racial?” In Obama’s Race: The 2008 Election and the Dream of a Post-Racial America. University of Chicago Press, 2010. ISBN: 9780226793832. [Preview with Google Books]

Take an IAT on the Project Implicit site.

9 Linking Attitudes to Outcomes

Jardina, Ashley, Sean McElwee, et al. “How Do Trump Supporters See Black People?Slate, November 7, 2016.

Schaffner, Brian. “White Support for Donald Trump was Driven by Economic Anxiety, but also by Racism and Sexism.” Vox, November 16, 2016.

Tesler, Michael, and David O. Sears. “The General Election: The Two Sides of Racialization and Short-Term Political Dynamics.” Chapter 3 in Obama’s Race: The 2008 Election and the Dream of a Post-Racial America. University of Chicago Press, 2010. ISBN: 9780226793832. [Preview with Google Books]

10 Campaigns, Advertising, Media

[G] Chapter 1: The American Welfare State: Public Opinion and Public Policy.

[G] Chapter 2: Individualism, Self-Interest, and Opposition to Welfare.

[G] Chapter 3: Racial Attitudes, the Undeserving Poor, and Opposition to Welfare.

[G] Chapter 5: The News Media and the Racialization of Poverty. 
(Note: Chapter 5 might actually be more relevant than Chapter 2. Feel free to read it instead.)

[ME] Chapter 1: A Theory of Racial Appeals.

[ME] Chapter 6: The Impact of Implicit Messages.

[ME] Chapter 7: Implicit, Explicit, and Counter-Stereotypical Messages: The Welfare Experiment.

Hopkins, Daniel J. “Politicized Places: Explaining Where and When Immigrants Provoke Local Opposition.” American Political Science Review 104, no. 1 (2010): 40–60.

Race in Context
11 Context and Conflict

Abascal, Maria, and Delia Baldassarri. “Don’t Blame Diversity for Distrust,” New York Times, May 20, 2016.

Badger, Emily. “Immigrant Shock: Can California Predict the Nation’s Future?New York Times, February 1, 2017.

Enos, Ryan D. “What the Demolition of Public Housing Teaches Us about the Impact of Racial Threat on Political Behavior.” American Journal of Political Science 60, no. 1 (2016): 123–42.

Key, Jr., V.O. “Composition of the Southern Electorate.” Chapter 24 in Southern Politics in State and Nation. University of Tennessee Press, 1984. ISBN: 9780870494352.

12 Context and Attitudes / Action

[S] Barreto, Matt A., and Nathan D. Woods. “Latino Voting Behavior in an Anti-Latino Political Context: The Case of Los Angeles County.”

Cho, Wendy K. Tam, James G. Gimpel, et al. “Clarifying the Role of SES in Political Participation: Policy Threat and Arab American Mobilization.” Journal of Politics 68, no. 4 (2006): 977–91.

Gay, Claudine. “Putting Race in Context: Identifying the Environmental Determinants of Black Racial Attitudes.” American Political Science Review 98, no. 4 (2004): 547–62.

Patterns in Participation and Mobilization
13 Stylized Facts / Overview of Group Participation

[M] Chapter 2: Resources and Status of America’s Racial Minorities. 
(Note: Revisit and skim.)

[M] Chapter 3: America’s Racial Minorities in the Contemporary Political System: Actors, pp. 76–108.

[S] “Introduction: Social, Political, and Institutional Context and the Representation of Minority Americans.”

de la Garza, Rodolfo O. “Latino Politics.” Annual Review of Political Science 7, no. 1 (2004): 91–123.


The Combahee River Collective Statement, April 1977. Circuitous.org.

14 Factors in Turnout / Action

Bedolla, Lisa Garcia, and Melissa R. Michelson. “Notes from the Field: Running an Effective Mobilization Campaign.” Chapter 5 in Mobilizing Inclusion: Transforming the Electorate through Get-Out-the-Vote Campaigns. Yale University Press, 2012. ISBN: 9780300166781.

———. “Expanding the Electorate Through Practice: Voting and Habit Formation.” Chapter 6 in Mobilizing Inclusion: Transforming the Electorate through Get-Out-the-Vote Campaigns. Yale University Press, 2012. ISBN: 9780300166781.

Uggen, Christopher, and Jeff Manza. “Democratic Contraction? Political Consequences of Felon Disenfranchisement in the United States.” American Sociological Review 67, no. 6 (2002): 777–803.

15 Other Political Behaviors

[M] Chapter 2: Resources and Status of America’s Racial Minorities, pp. 48–63. 

Wallace, Sophia J., Chris Zepeda-Millán, et al. “Spatial and Temporal Proximity: Examining the Effects of Protests on Political Attitudes.” American Journal of Political Science 58, no. 2 (2014): 433–48.

Williamson, Vanessa, Kris-Stella Trump, et al. “Black Lives Matter: Evidence of Grievance as a Predictor of Protest Activity.” (PDF)

16 Does Protest Work?

Cyrus, Logan R. “Making Black Voices Matter,” New York Times, February 29, 2016.

Gillion, Daniel Q. “Protest and Congressional Behavior: Assessing Racial and Ethnic Minority Protests in the District.” Journal of Politics 74, no. 4 (2012): 950–62.

Wasow, Omar. “Do Protests Matter? Evidence from the 1960s Black Insurgency.” (PDF) February 2, 2017. 
(Just read the paper itself. Students aren’t expected to go through all of the appendices at the end.)

Module III: Political Elites and Institutions
Descriptive Representation: Concept & Practice
17 Descriptive Representation: Theory and Empirics

[S] Banducci, Susan A., Todd Donovan, et al. “Effects of Minority Representation on Political Attitudes and Participation.”

Broockman, David E. “Black Politicians Are More Intrinsically Motivated to Advance Blacks’ Interests: A Field Experiment Manipulating Political Incentives.” American Journal of Political Science 57, no. 3 (2013): 521–36.

Gay, Claudine. “Spirals of Trust? The Effect of Descriptive Representation on the Relationship Between Citizens and Their Government.” American Journal Of Political Science 46, no. 4 (2002): 717–32.

18 Majority-Minority Districts

[GR] “Editors’ Introduction.”

[GR] Guinier, Lani. “Voting Rights and Democratic Theory: Where Do We Go From Here?”

[S] Grofman, Bernard. “Race and Redistricting in the Twenty-first Century.”

Canon, David T. “Introduction: Race, Redistricting, and Representation in the U.S. House of Representatives.” In Race, Redistricting, and Representation: The Unintended Consequences of Black Majority Districts. University of Chicago Press, 1999. ISBN: 9780226092713. [Preview with Google Books]


[GR] Carmines, Edward G., and Robert Huckfeldt. “Party Politics in the Wake of the Voting Rights Act.”

Voting Rights and Electoral Districting
19 Overview of Voting Rights and Electoral Districting

[B] “Prologue.”

[B] Chapter 9: Old Poison, New Bottles.

[B] Chapter 10: After Shelby.

Denniston, Lyle. “Opinion Recap: Voting Law in Deep Peril.” SCOTUSBlog, June 25, 2013.

Howe, Amy. “Future of Voting Rights Up in the Air.” SCOTUSBlog, June 7, 2013.

Katz, Ellen D. “How Big is Shelby County?” SCOTUSBlog, June 25, 2013.

Shelby County, Alabama v., Eric H. Holder, Jr., et al. “Brief of Historians and Social Scientists as Amici Curiae in Support of Respondents.” U.S. Supreme Court, February 1, 2013. 
(The whole argument is worth reading. But if pressed for time, read “Summary of Argument” and Section D, pp. 17–22.)

White, Ariel. “Voter Discrimination Starts Well Before Election Day.” Boston Review, November 1, 2016.

Race and the Political System
20 Race and Political Parties

[F] Chapter 1: Introduction.

[F] Chapter 2: Competitive Parties and the “Invisibility” of Captured Groups.

[F] Chapter 7: Is the Concept of Electoral Capture Applicable to Other Groups? The Case of Gay and Lesbian Voters in the Democratic Party and the Christian Right in the Republican Party.

[W] Chapter 1: Introduction: The Quality of Representation for African-Americans.

[W] Chapter 4: The Color of Congress: The Impact of Race and the Role of Issues in Congressional Roll Call Votes.

[W] Chapter 6: Epilogue: Black Policy Preferences, Congressional Behavior, and the Future of Representation for African-Americans.

Tate, Katherine. “Political Incorporation and Critical Transformations of Black Public Opinion.” Du Bois Review 1, no. 2 (2004): 345–59.

21 Courts; Broad Review

[R] “Introduction.”

[R] Chapter 2: Bound for Glory? Brown and the Civil Rights Revolution.

[R] Chapter 3: Constraints, Conditions, and the Courts.

For each of the above chapters, choose one policy area (education, transportation, etc.) to read very carefully and skim the others.

Hutchings, Vincent L., and Nicholas A. Valentino. “The Centrality of Race in American Politics.” Annual Review of Political Science 7, no. 1 (2004): 383–408.

Race and Policy
22 Overview of Race and Policy

Coates, Ta-Nehisi. “The Case for Reparations.” The Atlantic, June 2014. 
(The whole article is recommended but Sections V–VI are required.)

Lipsky, Michael. “Street-Level Bureaucrats as Policy Makers.” Chapter 2 in Street-Level Bureaucracy: Dilemmas of the Individual in Public Services, 30th Anniversary Expanded Edition. Russell Sage Foundation, 2010, pp. 13–18. ISBN: 9780871545442. [Preview with Google Books]

———. “Rationing Services: Inequality in Administration.” Chapter 8 in Street-Level Bureaucracy: Dilemmas of the Individual in Public Services, 30th Anniversary Expanded Edition. Russell Sage Foundation, 2010. ISBN: 9780871545442. [Preview with Google Books]

Massey, Douglas S., and Nancy A. Denton. “Shoring the Bulwarks of Segregation, 1940—1970.” In American Apartheid: Segregation and the Making of the Underclass. Harvard University Press, 1993, pp. 42–57. ISBN: 9780674018211. [Preview with Google Books]


Carceral State 1: Film Screening

13th. Directed by Ava Duvernay. Color, 100 min. 2016.

No readings assigned
24 Carceral State 2: Political Causes

Alexander, Michelle. “The New Jim Crow.” Chapter 5 in The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness. The New Press, 2012, pp. 190–217. ISBN: 9781595586438. 

Gottschalk, Marie. “The Prison and the Gallows: The Construction of the Carceral State in America.” Chapter 1 in The Prison and the Gallows: The Politics of Mass Incarceration in America. Cambridge University Press, 2006. ISBN: 9780521682916. [Preview with Google Books]

———. “Conclusion: Whither the Carceral State?” Chapter 10 in The Prison and the Gallows: The Politics of Mass Incarceration in America. Cambridge University Press, 2006. ISBN: 9780521682916.

Neyfakh, Leon. “Why Are So Many Americans in Prisons?Slate, February 6, 2015.

Senior, Jennifer. “‘Locking Up Our Own,’ What Led to Mass Incarceration of Black Men,” New York Times, April 11, 2017.

New York Times Op-eds on Carceral Policy

Fortner, Michael Javen. “The Real Roots of ’70s Drug Laws,” New York Times, September 28, 2015.

Hinton, Elizabeth, Julilly Kohler-Hausmann, et al. “Did Blacks Really Endorse the 1994 Crime Bill?,” New York Times, April 13, 2016.

25 Carceral State 3: Political Consequences

[BU] Chapter 1: Introduction.

[BU] Chapter 3: A First Look: Imprisonment and Community Supervision.

[BU] Chapter 4: Neighborhood Criminal Justice Context and Political Participation.

Weaver, Vesla M., and Amy E. Lerman. “Political Consequences of the Carceral State.” American Political Science Review 104, no. 4 (2010): 817–33.

Background info on Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ Memo (PDF) on drug prosecutions

Horwitz, Sari, and Matt Zapotosky. “Sessions Issues Sweeping New Criminal Charging Policy,” Washington Post, May 12, 2017.

26 Conclusion No readings assigned

Course Info

As Taught In
Spring 2017
Learning Resource Types
Written Assignments with Examples
Instructor Insights