Race and time

Kevin Lewis

January 31, 2013

Racial Fluidity and Inequality in the United States

Aliya Saperstein & Andrew Penner
American Journal of Sociology, November 2012, Pages 676-727

The authors link the literature on racial fluidity and inequality in the United States and offer new evidence of the reciprocal relationship between the two processes. Using two decades of longitudinal data from a national survey, they demonstrate that not only does an individual's race change over time, it changes in response to myriad changes in social position, and the patterns are similar for both self-identification and classification by others. These findings suggest that, in the contemporary United States, microlevel racial fluidity serves to reinforce existing disparities by redefining successful or high-status people as white (or not black) and unsuccessful or low-status people as black (or not white). Thus, racial differences are both an input and an output in stratification processes; this relationship has implications for theorizing and measuring race in research, as well as for crafting policies that attempt to address racialized inequality.


On the Causes of the African Slave Trade

Luis Angeles
Kyklos, February 2013, Pages 1-26

This paper offers an integrated analysis of the forces shaping the emergence of the African slave trade over the early modern period. We focus our attention on two questions. First, why most of the increase in the demand for slaves during this period came exclusively from western Europeans. Second, and of most relevance for present-day development outcomes, why was the overwhelming majority of slaves of African origin. Technological differences in manufacturing technology, the specificities of sugar (and other crops') production, and the cultural fragmentation of the African continent all play a role in the analysis. Supporting evidence for each of our claims is provided from a broad corpus of relevant literature.


Narrow and Scientific Replication of 'The Slave Trade and the Origins of Mistrust in Africa'

Koen Deconinck & Marijke Verpoorten
Journal of Applied Econometrics, January/February 2013, Pages 166-169

Nunn and Wantchekon (2011) argue that slave trades led to a culture of mistrust in Africa. They regress self-reported trust from the 2005 Afrobarometer surveys on ethnicity-specific historic slave exports. Individuals from ethnic groups that experienced high levels of slave exports are less trusting. Causality is demonstrated by instrumenting slave exports using the historic distance of each ethnic group to the coast. Our narrow replication yields identical results. The scientific replication repeats the analysis with Afrobarometer survey data from 2008, which includes two new countries and more ethnic groups. Our replication confirms the results of Nunn and Wantchekon.


Working Twice as Hard to Get Half as Far: Race, Work Ethic, and America's Deserving Poor

Christopher DeSante
American Journal of Political Science, forthcoming

Attitudes toward racialized and redistributive policies like welfare are often thought of as a function of both principled ideological positions and the underlying racial attitudes a person holds. Kinder and Sanders (1996) look at racial resentment as one explanation, while Sniderman and his colleagues look to principled conservatism and authoritarianism as viable alternatives, claiming that racial resentment is merely proxying a legitimate race-neutral commitment to equality of opportunity. This article engages this debate through an experimental design which tests whether "hard work" is rewarded in a color-blind manner. The experimental design also affords scholars the opportunity to separate the effects of the two components of racial resentment: principled values and racial animus. The results show that American norms and implicit racism serve to uniquely privilege whites in a variety of ways.


Segregation Through the Lens of Housing Unit Transition: What Roles Do the Prior Residents, the Local Micro-Neighborhood, and the Broader Neighborhood Play?

John Hipp
Demography, November 2012, Pages 1285-1306

This study focuses on segregation as it plays out at the micro-level of housing unit transition. Employing a unique sample that places housing units into micro-neighborhoods and census tracts, this study tests whether the characteristics of the previous residents of the unit, the local micro-neighborhood, or the broader tract best explain the race/ethnicity of the new residents in a housing unit. The results show that the racial/ethnic composition of the local micro-neighborhood has even stronger effects on the race/ethnicity of the new residents than does the racial/ethnic composition of the broader census tract. The results also reveal that even when the racial/ethnic composition of these two contexts are accounted for, the race/ethnicity of the prior residents has a very strong effect on the race/ethnicity of the new residents. I consider possible explanations for this household-level effect. One new theoretical explanation I put forward is that prospective residents use the race/ethnicity of the prior residents as a signal regarding the neighborhood's appropriateness for them; I test and find that this hypothesized signaling effect is even stronger in certain micro-neighborhood, neighborhood, and county contexts.


The Whiter the Better? Racial Composition and Access to School Resources for Black Students

Timothy Diette
Review of Black Political Economy, September 2012, Pages 321-334

Rigorous courses are an important resource, distributed within schools, that merit attention as a central determinant of student achievement and future outcomes (Cook and Evans, J Labor Econ. 18(4):729-754, 2000; Rose and Betts, Rev Econ Stat. 86(2):497-513, 2004). Yet, black students are less likely to be enrolled in advanced courses in general (ex. Darity et al. 2001; Klopfenstein, Contemp Econ Pol. 23(3):416-28, 2005) and specifically Algebra 1 in middle school (Riley 1997). Debate exists around the potential benefits or drawbacks for black students attending highly integrated schools relative to highly segregated schools. This study examines which school characteristics are associated with large disparities in black student enrollment in Algebra 1 relative to white student enrollment in Algebra 1 in the same middle schools in North Carolina. Of particular interest is the relationship between access and the percentage of white students in a school. The study finds that: (1) black students are underrepresented in Algebra 1 in essentially all schools in North Carolina; (2) the largest disparities occur in schools that are highly integrated while the disparities are reduced in schools that are either large majority white or large majority non-white; (3) schools with a larger share of white teachers are related to larger disparities between black and white students; (4) the marginal effects of racial composition on the relative disparity in enrollment are significantly larger for black females than black males.


Racial Segregation and the Black/White Achievement Gap, 1992 to 2009

Dennis Condron et al.
Sociological Quarterly, Winter 2013, Pages 130-157

In this study, we draw on longitudinal, state-level data to analyze the impact of four distinct forms of school racial segregation on black/white achievement gaps in math and reading. Pooled time-series analyses with two-way fixed effects suggest that increases in black-white dissimilarity and black student isolation contribute to black/white achievement gaps, increases in black-white exposure reduce achievement gaps, and increases in exposure of black students to other minority students have no impact. We conclude by discussing the implications of school racial segregation as a source of academic achievement disparities between black and white students in the contemporary United States.


The Marley Hypothesis: Denial of Racism Reflects Ignorance of History

Jessica Nelson, Glenn Adams & Phia Salter
Psychological Science, forthcoming

This study used a signal detection paradigm to explore the Marley hypothesis - that group differences in perception of racism reflect dominant-group denial of and ignorance about the extent of past racism. White American students from a midwestern university and Black American students from two historically Black universities completed surveys about their historical knowledge and perception of racism. Relative to Black participants, White participants perceived less racism in both isolated incidents and systemic manifestations of racism. They also performed worse on a measure of historical knowledge (i.e., they did not discriminate historical fact from fiction), and this group difference in historical knowledge mediated the differences in perception of racism. Racial identity relevance moderated group differences in perception of systemic manifestations of racism (but not isolated incidents), such that group differences were stronger among participants who scored higher on a measure of racial identity relevance. The results help illuminate the importance of epistemologies of ignorance: cultural-psychological tools that afford denial of and inaction about injustice.


Avatars of Whiteness: Racial Expression in Video Game Characters

David Dietrich
Sociological Inquiry, February 2013, Pages 82-105

Video games are an enormous segment of popular media today, comparable to television and movies. Moreover, video games represent a new form of media distinguished from previous forms due to the interactive element, where game players have the ability to change and influence the game world. This paper contributes to the study of race and popular media by examining how race is presented in role-playing video games through the feature of avatar creation. Capabilities for avatar creation are analyzed in over sixty massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs) in service as of early 2010 and twenty offline role-playing games (RPGs) published over the past 10 years. The analysis shows that the vast majority of games, both online and offline, do not allow for the creation of avatars with a non-white racial appearance. Forcing an Anglo appearance on avatars that purport to represent the player has the potential to reinforce a sense of normative whiteness as well as shape the social composition of online worlds into all-white virtual spaces, contributing to the creation of a virtual "white habitus."


Testing for the Role of Prejudice in Emergency Departments Using Bounceback Rates

Shamena Anwar & Hanming Fang
B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, December 2012

We propose and empirically implement a test for the presence of racial prejudice among emergency department (ED) physicians based on the bounceback rates of patients discharged after receiving diagnostic tests during their initial ED visit. A bounceback is defined as a return to the ED within 72 hours of being initially discharged. Applying the test to administrative data of ED visits from California and New Jersey, we do not find evidence of prejudice against black and Hispanic patients, but we find evidence of prejudice against Asians in California. We also find evidence of prejudice against male patients.


Prior Experiences of Racial Discrimination and Racial Differences in Health Care System Distrust

Katrina Armstrong et al.
Medical Care, February 2013, Pages 144-150

Purpose: Factors contributing to racial differences in health care system distrust (HCSD) are currently unknown. Proposed potential contributing factors are prior experiences of racial discrimination and racial residential segregation.

Methods: Random digit dialing survey of 762 African American and 1267 white adults living in 40 US metropolitan statistical areas. Measures included the Revised Health Care System Distrust scale, the Experiences of Discrimination scale, metrics of access to care, sociodemographic characteristics, and the level of racial residential segregation in the city (using the isolation index).

Results: In unadjusted analyses, African Americans had higher levels of HCSD, particularly values distrust, and greater experiences of discrimination. Experience of discrimination was also strongly associated with HCSD. Adjusting for sociodemographic characteristics, health care access, and residential segregation had little effect on the association between African American race and overall HCSD or values distrust. In contrast, adjusting for experiences of racial discrimination reversed the association so that distrust was lower among African Americans than whites (odds ratio 0.53; 95% confidence interval, 0.33-0.85 for the overall measure). The Sobel test for mediation was strongly significant (P<0.001).

Conclusions: Higher HCSD among African Americans is explained by a greater burden of experiences of racial discrimination than whites. Reasons for higher distrust among whites after adjusting for experiences of racial discrimination are not known. Efforts to eliminate racial discrimination and restore trust given prior discrimination are needed.


On (Not) Closing the Gaps: The Evolution of National and Regional Unemployment Rates by Race and Ethnicity

Donald Freeman
Review of Black Political Economy, June 2012, Pages 267-284

This paper conducts stationarity tests for levels and ratios of national and regional unemployment rates by race and ethnicity. Results indicate that both unemployment rates and ratios for the total population and for subgroups by race, ethnicity and region are stationary around changing means. The black/white unemployment ratio has increased on average and the Hispanic/white unemployment ratio has decreased on average. Results are compared across regions of the US.


Race, Ethnicity, and U.S. House Incumbent Evaluations

Regina Branton, Erin Cassese & Bradford Jones
Legislative Studies Quarterly, November 2012, Pages 465-489

This article considers evaluations of U.S. House incumbents under conditions of racial/ethnic congruence and incongruence. We consider whether different racial groups have ordered preferences among nondescriptive alternatives. We pose two theoretical models of descriptive representation and test them using pooled National Election Study data. After controlling for the propensity to recall the Member of Congress, we find the extent of favoritism towards descriptive representatives varies across groups, as does the preference ordering among representatives of different racial and ethnic identification. No evidence of race-based judgment is uncovered among African Americans, while Latinos and Whites demonstrate preferences based on race and ethnicity.


A Poll Tax by any Other Name: The Political Economy of Disenfranchisement

Daniel Jones, Werner Troesken & Randall Walsh
NBER Working Paper, December 2012

In this paper, we examine the political economy of voting rights in the American South. We begin by measuring the impact of both formal laws and informal modes of voter suppression on African-American political participation. In contrast to prior research, we find evidence that both formal and informal modes of voter suppression were important and mutually reinforcing. Part of our analysis includes explicitly identifying the magnitude and causal effects of lynching on black voter participation. We then turn to analyzing to the relatively unexplored question of how disenfranchisement - and the accompanying shifts in political power - affected policy outcomes, congressional voting, and partisan control of state and federal legislatures.


Neighborhoods, Social Support, and African American Adolescents' Mental Health Outcomes: A Multilevel Path Analysis

Noelle Hurd, Sarah Stoddard & Marc Zimmerman
Child Development, forthcoming

This study explored how neighborhood characteristics may relate to African American adolescents' internalizing symptoms via adolescents' social support and perceptions of neighborhood cohesion. Participants included 571 urban, African American adolescents (52% female; M age = 17.8). A multilevel path analysis testing both direct and indirect effects of neighborhood characteristics on adolescents' mental health outcomes was conducted. Higher neighborhood poverty and unemployment rates predicted greater internalizing symptoms via lower cumulative social support and perceptions of neighborhood cohesion. In contrast, higher concentrations of African American and residentially stable residents in one's neighborhood related to fewer internalizing symptoms among adolescent residents via greater cumulative social support and perceptions of neighborhood cohesion. Implications of these findings are discussed.


When White People Report Racial Discrimination: The Role of Region, Religion, and Politics

Damon Mayrl & Aliya Saperstein
Social Science Research, forthcoming

Scholarly interest in the correlates and consequences of perceived discrimination has grown exponentially in recent years, yet, despite increased legal and media attention to claims of "anti-white bias," empirical studies predicting reports of racial discrimination by white Americans remain limited. Using data from the 2006 Portraits of American Life Study, we find that evangelical Protestantism increases the odds that whites will report experiencing racial discrimination, even after controlling for racial context and an array of social and psychological characteristics. However, this effect is limited to the South. Outside the South, political affiliation trumps religion, yielding distinct regional profiles of discrimination reporters. These findings suggest that institutions may function as regional "carriers" for whites inclined to report racial discrimination.


Other People's Racism: Race, Rednecks, and Riots in a Southern High School

Jessica Halliday Hardie & Karolyn Tyson
Sociology of Education, January 2013, Pages 83-102

This article uses data drawn from nine months of fieldwork and student, teacher, and administrator interviews at a southern high school to analyze school racial conflict and the construction of racism. We find that institutional inequalities that stratify students by race and class are routinely ignored by school actors who, we argue, use the presence of so-called redneck students to plausibly deny racism while furthering the standard definition of racism as blatant prejudice and an individual trait. The historical prominence of rednecks as a southern cultural identity augments these claims, leading to an implicit division of school actors into friendly/nonracist and unfriendly/racist and allowing school actors to set boundaries on the meaning of racism. Yet these rhetorical practices and the institutional structures they mask contributed to racial tensions, culminating in a race riot during our time at the school.


Effects of early-life adversity on cognitive decline in older African Americans and whites

Lisa Barnes et al.
Neurology, 11 December 2012, Pages 2321-2327

Objectives: Early-life adversity is related to adult health in old age but little is known about its relation with cognitive decline.

Methods: Participants included more than 6,100 older residents (mean age = 74.9 [7.1] years; 61.8% African American) enrolled in the Chicago Health and Aging Project, a geographically defined, population-based study of risk factors for Alzheimer disease. Participants were interviewed at approximately 3-year intervals for up to 16 years. The interview included a baseline evaluation of early-life adversity, and administration of 4 brief cognitive function tests to assess change in cognitive function. We estimated the relation of early-life adversity to rate of cognitive decline in a series of mixed-effects models.

Results: In models stratified by race, and adjusted for age and sex, early-life adversity was differentially related to decline in African Americans and whites. Whereas no measure of early-life adversity related to cognitive decline in whites, both food deprivation and being thinner than average in early life were associated with a slower rate of cognitive decline in African Americans. The relations were not mediated by years of education and persisted after adjustment for cardiovascular factors.

Conclusions: Markers of early-life adversity had an unexpected protective effect on cognitive decline in African Americans.


Grown folks radio: U.S. election politics and a "hidden" black counterpublic

Micaela Di Leonardo
American Ethnologist, November 2012, Pages 661-672

President Obama's 2008 electoral triumph garnered enormous journalistic and scholarly attention, but analysts have shown very little interest in African American media coverage of the campaign. In this piece, I focus on one major, nearly ignored, black media outlet: a syndicated radio show with a huge audience, commercial success, and progressive politics. I analyze the show's construction of a powerful mediatized black counterpublic, consider its rise parallel to the neoliberal deregulation of U.S. media, and narrate its coverage of the 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns. I also consider the political effects of a new cross-media platform synergy among black and progressive outlets.

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