Colorful Legacy

Kevin Lewis

September 13, 2022

Consistent Divisions or Methodological Decisions? Assessing the U.S. Racial Hierarchy Across Outcomes
Beka Guluma & Aliya Saperstein
Race and Social Problems, September 2022, Pages 189-207

Scholars have offered a range of perspectives on the twenty-first century racial landscape with little consensus about either the current state of the U.S. racial hierarchy or its future trajectory. We offer a more comprehensive assessment, using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (Add Health) to study racial stratification across a number of socioeconomic outcomes. We pay particular attention to the robustness of results across different categorization schemes that account for self-identification and interviewer classification, as well as racial fluidity. Although we observe that White and Asian Americans generally have the best socioeconomic outcomes, on average, while Black Americans and American Indians have the worst, we also find meaningful differences in patterns of stratification both across outcomes and depending on how race is operationalized. These differences in stratification are reflected in the estimated number of strata as well as the rank order of racial categories. Our results suggest that ongoing debates about the nature of the U.S. racial hierarchy can be partly explained by methodological decisions about which outcomes to study and how best to measure race.

Partisan Politics in the 21st Century South: The Fading Impact of Antebellum Slavery
Irwin Morris
American Politics Research, forthcoming

Acharya, Blackwell, and Sen (2018) argue that antebellum slavery is directly related to racial conservatism and support for the Republican Party in the modern South. Yet during the last two decades, the South has begun a subtle but still very significant partisan shift to the left. Areas where population growth has stagnated (or actually declined) have tended to become more Republican; Democratic support has been bolstered by higher population growth. Significantly, local population growth and historic slave populations are largely unrelated. I examine the extent to which antebellum slavery influences county-level southern White partisanship and racial resentment during the second decade of the 21st century. Over the course of this time period, the impact of antebellum slavery evaporates. Not coincidentally, county-level population growth is strongly associated with increased Democratic identification and more progressive racial attitudes at or near the end of this time frame.

Racial and ethnic differences in blood pressure before and after the 2016 United States general election
Andrew Hwang, Michelle Cardel & Steven Smith
American Journal of Human Biology, forthcoming

Methods: Using 2015–2018 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, we included participants aged ≥18 years during the same periods prior to (May to October 2015/2016) and after (May to October 2017/2018) the election. Survey-weighted data were analyzed to compare population-level systolic BP (SBP) and diastolic BP (DBP) pre- and post-election, stratified by race/ethnicity. Sex differences were also investigated.

Results: We observed significant increases in SBP among non-Hispanic (NH) Asian participants (+3.4 mmHg; p = .046), but not among other racial/ethnic participants. DBP increased among NH Black participants (+2.3 mmHg; p = .049) and Mexican American participants (+2.9 mmHg; p = .007), but not among other racial/ethnic participants. These changes appeared attributable to differential BP changes by sex.

Conclusions: At the population-level, variable changes in BP were observed by race/ethnicity following the 2016 U.S. presidential election, possibly driven by SBP elevations among women.

Do Positive Psychological Factors Equally Predict Resistance to Upper Respiratory Infections in African and European Americans?
Cameron Wiley et al.
Psychological Science, forthcoming

Research has consistently shown that positive psychological constructs are linked to better physical health, but few studies have examined the role that race plays in this connection. We explored whether positive self-evaluations were equally protective against upper respiratory infection for 271 African American adults and 700 European American adults in a series of virus-exposure studies. Participants were assessed at baseline for psychological functioning and physical health, quarantined and exposed experimentally to a respiratory virus, and then monitored for infection and symptoms. Regression analyses revealed significant interactions between race and multiple positive psychological factors; several factors that were helpful to European Americans were unhelpful or even harmful to African Americans. Building on past work showing cross-cultural variation in the health correlates of affect, this study provides evidence that the health benefits of positive psychological constructs may not be universal and points to the need to explore factors that underpin these observed differential patterns.

Firearms and Lynching
Michael Makowsky & Patrick Warren
Journal of Law and Economics, forthcoming

We assess firearms as a means of Black self-defense in the Jim Crow South. We infer firearm access by race and place by measuring the fraction of suicides committed with a firearm. Corroborating anecdotal accounts and historical claims, state bans on pistols and increases in White law enforcement personnel served as mechanisms to disarm the Black community, while having no comparable effect on White firearms. The interaction of these mechanisms with changing national market prices for firearms provides us with a credible identification strategy for Black firearm access. Rates of Black lynching decreased with greater Black firearm access.

Slavery and the British Industrial Revolution

Stephan Heblich, Stephen Redding & Hans-Joachim Voth
NBER Working Paper, September 2022

Did overseas slave-holding by Britons accelerate the Industrial Revolution? We provide theory and evidence on the contribution of slave wealth to Britain’s growth prior to 1835. We compare areas of Britain with high and low exposure to the colonial plantation economy, using granular data on wealth from compensation records. Before the major expansion of slave holding from the 1640s onwards, both types of area exhibited similar levels of economic activity. However, by the 1830s, slavery wealth is strongly correlated with economic development – slave-holding areas are less agricultural, closer to cotton mills, and have higher property wealth. We rationalize these findings using a dynamic spatial model, where slavery investment raises the return to capital accumulation, expanding production in capital-intensive sectors. To establish causality, we use arguably exogenous variation in slave mortality on the passage from Africa to the Indies, driven by weather shocks. We show that weather shocks influenced the continued involvement of ancestors in the slave trade; weather-induced slave mortality of slave-trading ancestors in each area is strongly predictive of slaveholding in 1833. Quantifying our model using the observed data, we find that Britain would have been substantially poorer and more agricultural in the absence of overseas slave wealth. Overall, our findings are consistent with the view that slavery wealth accelerated Britain’s industrial revolution.

Saving lives one bale at a time: Cotton production’s connection to lynchings in the U.S. South during the early Twentieth Century
Paul Lombardi & Amer Mriziq
Applied Economics, forthcoming

The extralegal lynching of innocent individuals from discriminated groups remains a dark, lasting mark on the United States’ history. Following the conclusion of the Civil War, former slaves and their descendants were frequent targets for this form of violence. A significant existing literature finds various contributing factors to the pattern of violence. However, the current paper is the first to document a relationship between the weather and the lynching of African Americans in the U.S. South during the early twentieth century. Within affected communities, we find heavy May rains reduced cotton yields which raises the probability of a lynching during the subsequent year.

Tweets and Doorknocks. Differentiation and Cooperation between Black Lives Matter and Community Organizing
Clément Petitjean & Julien Talpin
Perspectives on Politics, forthcoming

Because of its genealogy and a shared commitment to racial justice, the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement might be expected to have strong cooperative links with community organizing groups. Close, localized study of the interactions between these two approaches to social change reveals, however, something quite different. Far from being harmonious, the relations between BLM and community organizing prove to be marked by distrust, sometimes competition, and, more sporadically, cooperation. This article, based on ethnographic surveys in Los Angeles and Chicago, investigates how the BLM movement deployed and took root at the local level and how it interacted with community organizing groups in both cities. Emphasizing the importance of blending a meso-sociological level of analysis with a micro-sociological approach, we argue that the relations of competition and distinction, embodied in distinct group styles, repertoires of action, and organizational forms, can be explained by taking into account the actors’ resources, social properties, socializations, and trajectories. The article’s comparative perspective also shows that forms of cooperation may exist despite competition, and that cooperation is made possible in particular by younger people playing a bridging role.

Corrupt Bargaining: Partisan Politics, the Election of 1824, and the Suppression of the African Slave Trade
Craig Hollander
Journal of the Early Republic, Fall 2022, Pages 359-387

Between 1808 and 1820, the United States transformed the foreign slave trade from a legitimate form of commerce into a capital crime. This transformation reflected the determination of the American public and their representatives to extricate the United States from participation in the foreign slave trade. Yet, in the spring of 1824, a group of U.S. senators refused to approve the renomination of a customs collector who had sought to suppress the illegal slave trade emanating from his home district. A few weeks later, this same group of senators effectively scuttled the anti-slave trade treaty that the Monroe administration had negotiated with Great Britain. This article will expose why this group of lawmakers opted to weaken the nation's ability to suppress the illegal traffic. It will argue that – as members of William Crawford's faction – they set aside their ideological support for suppressing the foreign slave trade in order to secure the allegiance of another senator, James D'Wolf of Rhode Island, and then, with D'Wolf's crucial assistance, strike a blow against John Quincy Adams, who was one of Crawford's intraparty rivals in the upcoming presidential election of 1824. But the fallout from this particular deal – or "corrupt bargain," as such political horse-trading would soon come to be known – was not limited to the election. On the contrary, Crawford's faction had severely undermined the federal government's effort to suppress the slave trade in an ultimately futile effort to hurt Adams. This article will therefore reveal how even popular policy measures were vulnerable to electoral ambitions and that seemingly small political deals could have longstanding and widespread repercussions


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