Racial past

Kevin Lewis

January 10, 2017

“Undistinguished Destruction”: The Effects of Smallpox on British Emancipation Policy in the Revolutionary War

Gary Sellick

Journal of American Studies, forthcoming

In 1775, Lord Dunmore, the royal governor of Virginia, offered freedom to any African American who fought for the British cause against the colonial rebels in his province. Dunmore's plan to reconquer Virginia with his “Ethiopian Regiment” ended in failure, not due to a lack of willing volunteers but because of a familiar eighteenth-century killer: smallpox. Five years later, similar proclamations were issued in South Carolina. Yet smallpox again hindered British designs, devastating the eager African Americans who flooded to their lines. This paper uses primary source material and research on smallpox to analyze the experiences of African Americans who actively sought freedom with the British during the Revolutionary War. Focusing on the differing regions of Virginia and South Carolina this paper will assess the impact of smallpox on British military designs for runaway slaves while also evaluating the reasons why the disease had such a devastating effect on African Americans during the period. Overall, this paper will show how smallpox, so common in eighteenth-century Europe, put a fatal end to the first widespread push for emancipation on the American continent and helped derail one of Britain's best hopes for turning the tide in the Revolutionary War.


Resilience in Adolescence, Health, and Psychosocial Outcomes

Gene Brody et al.

Pediatrics, December 2016

Methods: Secondary data analyses were executed with the use of waves 1 and 4 of the US Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (Add Health). At wave 1, when participants were age 16, data were obtained on a behavioral style termed “striving.” Striving includes high aspirations, unwavering persistence, investment in education, and avoidance of activities that sidetrack success. At wave 4, when participants were age 29, college graduation, personal income, symptoms of depression, and type 2 diabetes status were assessed.

Results: Black and non-Hispanic white youth who displayed striving during adolescence evinced, at age 29, a higher likelihood of college graduation, greater personal income, and fewer symptoms of depression than did nonstrivers. Among black participants, the findings were consistent with the “skin-deep resilience” pattern for type 2 diabetes. High-striving black adolescents in the most disadvantaged families had a greater likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes during adulthood than did similar high-striving black adolescents living in more privileged families. The skin-deep resilience pattern did not emerge among non-Hispanic white participants.

Conclusions: This study is the first to show that an unrelenting determination to succeed among black adolescents from disadvantaged backgrounds forecasts an elevated risk of developing type 2 diabetes during adulthood.


Coloring the War on Drugs: Arrest Disparities in Black, Brown, and White

David Koch, Jaewon Lee & Kyunghee Lee

Race and Social Problems, December 2016, Pages 313–325

Using the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1997 (NLSY97) data, this study examines racial disparities in arrests for drug offending. Of the total 8984 NLSY97 participants, the study sample was restricted to the 4868 respondents who had ever reported using drugs (black = 1191, Hispanic = 980, white = 2697). The study questions are as follows: (1) Are there racial disparities in arrests for drug use, after controlling for incidence of drug use as well as other socio-demographic variables? (2) Are there racial disparities in arrests for drug dealing, after controlling for incidence of drug dealing as well as other socio-demographic variables? Compared with whites, blacks were more likely to be arrested for drug offending, even after controlling for incidence and other socio-demographic variables. Several socio-demographic variables, particularly gender, were also associated with arrests for drug offending. Bans on racial profiling and other legislative and policy changes are considered as potential strategies to ameliorate drug enforcement disparities.


Where is Latisha’s Law? Black Invisibility in the Social Construction of Victimhood

Teresa Kulig & Francis Cullen

Justice Quarterly, forthcoming

Laws named after specific crime victims have become increasingly common. These laws are part of a broader effort to downgrade the status and rehabilitative needs of offenders and to hear the voices and trumpet the legitimate concerns of victims — often as a means of justifying punitive crime control policies. Beyond the substantive merit of individual statutes, collectively these named laws provide a clear image of which victims warrant protection and memorialization: Victims who are vulnerable in some way, who are pursued by predatory criminals into their otherwise safe domains, and — above all — who are White. In this regard, an analysis of 51 named laws from 1990 to 2016 reveals that the vast majority of them (86.3%) honor White victims. In asking the question, “Where is Latisha’s Law?,” we seek to illuminate the virtual invisibility of African American victims and the implicit social construction of which lives matter more in American society.


Toward a Demographic Understanding of Incarceration Disparities: Race, Ethnicity, and Age Structure

Matt Vogel & Lauren Porter

Journal of Quantitative Criminology, December 2016, Pages 515–530

Methods: We apply two techniques commonly employed in the field of demography, age-standardization and decomposition, to data provided by the Bureau of Justice Statistics and the 2010 decennial census to assess the contribution of age structure to racial and ethnic disparities in incarceration.

Findings: The non-Hispanic black and Hispanic incarceration rates in 2010 would have been 13–20 % lower if these groups had age structures identical to that of the non-Hispanic white population. Moreover, age structure accounts for 20 % of the Hispanic/white disparity and 8 % of the black/white disparity.

Conclusion: The comparison of crude incarceration rates across racial/ethnic groups may not be ideal because these groups boast strikingly different age structures. Since the risk of imprisonment is tied to age, criminologists should consider adjusting for age structure when comparing rates of incarceration across groups.


Race, Representation, and the Voting Rights Act

Sophie Schuit & Jon Rogowski

American Journal of Political Science, forthcoming

Despite wide scholarly interest in the Voting Rights Act, surprisingly little is known about how its specific provisions affected Black political representation. In this article, we draw on theories of electoral accountability to evaluate the effect of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, the preclearance provision, on the representation of Black interests in the 86th to 105th congresses. We find that members of Congress who represented jurisdictions subject to the preclearance requirement were substantially more supportive of civil rights–related legislation than legislators who did not represent covered jurisdictions. Moreover, we report that the effects were stronger when Black voters composed larger portions of the electorate and in more competitive districts. This result is robust to a wide range of model specifications and empirical strategies, and it persists over the entire time period under study. Our findings have especially important implications given the Supreme Court's recent decision in Shelby County v. Holder.


Education Outcomes of Children of Asian Intermarriages: Does Gender of the Immigrant Parent Matter?

Sukanya Basu & Mike Insler

U.S. Naval Academy Working Paper, August 2016

Studies about the effects of native and immigrant intermarriage on the human capital of children generally group all immigrants. They ignore disparate impacts by gender, ethnicity, or other attributes. Using 2000 U.S. Census data, we compare the high school dropout rates of 16-17-year-old children of Asian intermarriages and intra-marriages. We study differences between Asian-father and Asian-mother only families, controlling for observable child, parental and residential characteristics, as well as unobservable selection into intermarriage. Despite the higher average education and income levels of intermarried families, the children of Asian-father-native-mother households have higher dropout rates compared to both Asian intra-married and Asian-mother-native-father households. Children of less-educated fathers do worse, relative to children of less-educated mothers, suggesting the importance of intergenerational paternal transmission of education. Racial self-identity is also important – children identify as “non-Asian” more often when the mother is native, and their families may under-emphasize education bringing them closer to native levels.


Risk, Race, and Recidivism: Predictive Bias and Disparate Impact

Jennifer Skeem & Christopher Lowenkamp

Criminology, November 2016, Pages 680–712

One way to unwind mass incarceration without compromising public safety is to use risk assessment instruments in sentencing and corrections. Although these instruments figure prominently in current reforms, critics argue that benefits in crime control will be offset by an adverse effect on racial minorities. Based on a sample of 34,794 federal offenders, we examine the relationships among race, risk assessment [the Post Conviction Risk Assessment (PCRA)], and future arrest. First, application of well-established principles of psychological science revealed little evidence of test bias for the PCRA — the instrument strongly predicts arrest for both Black and White offenders, and a given score has essentially the same meaning — that is, the same probability of recidivism — across groups. Second, Black offenders obtain higher average PCRA scores than do White offenders (d = .34; 13.5 percent nonoverlap in groups’ scores), so some applications could create disparate impact. Third, most (66 percent) of the racial difference in PCRA scores is attributable to criminal history — which is already embedded in sentencing guidelines. Finally, criminal history is not a proxy for race, but instead it mediates the relationship between race and future arrest. Data are more helpful than rhetoric if the goal is to improve practice at this opportune moment in history.


Residential segregation and mental health among Latinos in a nationally representative survey

Carrie Nobles et al.

Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, forthcoming

Background: Among Latinos, living in a locality with greater Latino ethnic density may be protective for mental health, although findings vary by Latino subgroup, gender and birthplace. Although little studied, Latino residential segregation may capture different pathways linking risk and protective environmental factors to mental health than local ethnic density.

Methods: This study evaluated the association between residential segregation and mental distress as measured by the Kessler-10 (K10) among Latino participants in the National Latino and Asian American Study (NLAAS). Census data from 2000 was used to calculate metropolitan statistical area (MSA) residential segregation using the dissimilarity and isolation indices, as well as census tract ethnicity density and poverty. Latino subgroup (Puerto Rican, Mexican American, Cuban American and other Latino subgroup), gender and generation status were evaluated as moderators.

Results: Among 2554 Latino participants in NLAAS, residential segregation as measured by the isolation index was associated with less mental distress (β −0.14, 95% CI −0.26 to −0.03 log(K10)) among Latinos overall after adjustment for ethnic density, poverty and individual covariates. Residential segregation as measured by the dissimilarity index was significantly associated with less mental distress among men (β −0.56, 95% CI −1.04 to −0.08) but not among women (β −0.20, 95% CI −0.45 to 0.04, p-interaction=0.019). No modification was observed by Latino subgroup or generation.

Conclusions: Among Latinos, increasing residential segregation was associated with less mental distress, and this association was moderated by gender. Findings suggest that MSA-level segregation measures may capture protective effects associated with living in Latino communities for mental health.


Understanding Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Arrest: The Role of Individual, Home, School, and Community Characteristics

Lauren Nichol Gase et al.

Race and Social Problems, December 2016, Pages 296–312

Contact with the justice system can lead to a range of poor health and social outcomes. While persons of color are disproportionately represented in both the juvenile and criminal justice systems, reasons for these patters remain unclear. This study sought to examine the extent and sources of differences in arrests during adolescence and young adulthood among blacks, whites, and Hispanics in the USA. Multilevel cross-sectional logistic regression analyses were conducted using data from waves I and IV of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (n = 12,752 respondents). Results showed significantly higher likelihood of having ever been arrested among blacks, when compared to whites, even after controlling for a range of delinquent behaviors (odds ratio = 1.58, 95 % confidence interval = 1.27, 1.95). These black–white disparities were no longer present after accounting for racial composition of the neighborhood, supporting the growing body of research demonstrating the importance of contextual variables in driving disproportionate minority contact with the justice system.

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