Injustice Past

Kevin Lewis

January 14, 2020

Less is More: A Cross-Generational Analysis of the Nature and Role of Racial Attitudes in the 21st Century
Christopher DeSante & Candis Smith
Journal of Politics, forthcoming


After landmark Civil Rights legislation was implemented, scholars provided evidence that the nature and structure of Whites' racial attitudes changed from the Jim Crow era. They devised survey questions to capture newer, more acceptable forms of racial animus. One scale that came out of this effort and that receives the most empirical attention today is the racial resentment scale. Given the vast changes the American racial landscape has undergone since that scale was originally developed, we question whether this set of measures is related to racial attitudes in the same way across generational cohorts. We show two key findings: younger Whites are not bringing about any meaningful change in the aggregate levels of racial resentment. Second, and more importantly, we show that while younger Whites appear to have lower levels of racial resentment, these survey items are more strongly related to old-fashioned anti-black affect among younger Whites. Thus, when it comes to Millennials racial attitudes, "less is more."

Shaping Ideology and Institutions: Economic Incentives and Slavery in the US South
Federico Masera & Michele Rosenberg
Northwestern University Working Paper, October 2019


The US South was both economically reliant on slave labor and at the forefront of its ideological and political defense. This paper shows that economic conditions shaped the support for slavery. Exploiting the competitive forces generated by the Westward territorial expansion between 1810 and 1860, we identify shocks to counties' comparative advantage in the production of different crops. First, we provide evidence that an increase in the comparative advantage in wheat with respect to cotton, tobacco, and sugar affected production decisions and decreased the share of slave and slave-owning population. Second, using a unique collection of digitalized Southern local newspapers, information on free blacks, voting behavior, and ideological measures, we show that these shocks induced an increase in free blacks, lower consumption of pro-slavery newspaper's contents, lower support for pro-slavery party, the election of less conservative representatives, and a lower vote share in favor of secession. This paper, by jointly analyzing the economics and politics of slavery, suggests that changes in economic incentives can determine institutional and ideological transformations.

The Shifting Salience of Skin Color for Educational Attainment
Amelia Branigan et al.
Socius: Sociological Research for a Dynamic World, December 2019


Findings of an association between skin color and educational attainment have been fairly consistent among Americans born before the civil rights era, but little is known regarding the persistence of this relationship in later born cohorts. The authors ask whether the association between skin color and educational attainment has changed between black American baby boomers and millennials. The authors observe a large and statistically significant decline in the association between skin color and educational attainment between baby boomer and millennial black women, whereas the decline in this association between the two cohorts of black men is smaller and nonsignificant. Compared with baby boomers, a greater percentage of the association between skin color and educational attainment among black millennials appears to reflect educational disparities in previous generations. These results emphasize the need to conceptualize colorism as an intersectional problem and suggest caution when generalizing evidence of colorism in earlier cohorts to young adults today.

Whiteness and the Emergence of the Republican Party in the Early Twentieth-Century South
Boris Heersink & Jeffery Jenkins
Studies in American Political Development, forthcoming


In the post-Reconstruction South, two Republican factions vied for control of state party organizations. The Black-and-Tans sought to keep the party inclusive and integrated, while the Lily-Whites worked to turn the GOP into a whites-only party. The Lily-Whites ultimately emerged victorious, as they took over most state parties by the early twentieth century. Yet no comprehensive data exist to measure how the conflict played out in each state. To fill this void, we present original data that track the racial composition of Republican National Convention delegations from the South between 1868 and 1952. We then use these data in a set of statistical analyses to show that, once disfranchising laws were put into place, the "whitening" of the GOP in the South led to a significant increase in the Republican Party's vote totals in the region. Overall, our results suggest that the Lily-White takeover of the Southern GOP was a necessary step in the Republican Party's reemergence - and eventual dominance - in the region during the second half of the twentieth century.

The Political Consequences of Ethnically Targeted Incarceration: Evidence from Japanese-American Internment During WWII
Mayya Komisarchik, Maya Sen & Yamil Velez
Harvard Working Paper, November 2019


What are the downstream political consequences of state activity explicitly targeting a racial or ethnic minority group? This question is well studied in the comparative context, but less is known about the effects of explicitly racist state activity on minority groups in liberal western democracies such as the United States. We investigate this question by looking at a significant and tragic event in American history - the mass internment of people of Japanese descent during World War II. We find that Japanese Americans who were interned are significantly less likely to have faith in government or be politically active and this demobilizing effect increases with internment length. In terms of the mechanism behind this demobilization, we find that camp experience matters: those who went to camps that witnessed violence or strikes had sharper declines in faith in government, levels of interest in U.S. politics, and willingness to protest against internment. Taken together, our findings both contribute to a growing literature documenting the demobilizing effects of ethnically targeted incarceration and expand our understanding of these forces within the U.S.

Set in Stone? Predicting Confederate Monument Removal
Andrea Benjamin et al.
PS: Political Science & Politics, forthcoming


Recent events have led to a renewed conversation surrounding the relevance and potential removal of Confederate monuments around the country, and several monuments have already been removed. However, we have little insight to explain why some monuments have been removed while others remain. This article seeks to understand the social and political determinants that can better explain the recent removal of Confederate monuments throughout the United States. Analyzing results from an original dataset of Confederate monuments, we identify which local government structures and racial and civic characteristics best predict the removal of these monuments. Ultimately, although we find that other factors contribute to monument removal, the size of the black population, the presence of a National Association for the Advancement of Colored People chapter, and the percentage of Democrats in a county in which a monument exists - as well as whether the monument exists in a state that constrains removal by legislative decree - best predict whether a Confederate monument will be taken down. This project elucidates the interplay of race, partisanship, and local and statewide politics as it relates to the dismantling of Confederate monuments.

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