My Research

Breaking Bad’ in Black & White

Analysis focuses on ideological deviance and the construction of ‘authentic’ racial identities.

This article contributes to the study of racial-group politics by examining how Black and White Americans create authentic racial identities through the regulation of ideological adherence to color-consciousness and color-blindness, respectively. The article first theorizes about the relationship between racial ideology and racial authenticity. We then illustrate our hypotheses through an analysis of responses of Black and White racial group members to Black conservatives and White racial justice activists, whose viewpoints and agendas are read as contradictory to the broad goals of the majority of their racial counterparts. We explore, through an examination of empirical instances of chastisement, exclusion, and public de-authentication of individuals who deviate from the dominant ideology of their racial group, some of the ways Black and White Americans attempt to control in-group political behavior and to enforce indigenous standards for group-based public representation.

“We urge policymakers & institution-builders to think about what this means in an era where colorblindness & color-consciousness appear continually at odds,”

“The Challenge of Change”: Edward Brooke, The Republican Party, & the Struggle for Redemption

This essay is an exploration of the political rise of politician Edward W. Brooke and his impact on the Republican Party and the black community throughout the 1960s. I argue that Brooke’s role in American political and social life reflected the convergence of civil rights and American conservatism, specifically as it related to the struggle for racial equality and the path of the Republican Party; within the article, I explore the ways in which Brooke attempted to prove that liberal ideas about race were not incompatible with the conservatism of the GOP; the black Republican also argued that once coupled, such ideas could be used to create innovative solutions to the needs of the nation’s citizens.

Ultimately I conclude that Brooke represented a centrist vision in the battle for the identity and direction of the modern GOP. Along with other black Republicans of the era, Brooke envisioned and fought for an alternative path for the GOP and for the nation—one that could provide African Americans in the 1960s and 1970s with an attractive and viable alternative to the modern liberalism of the Democratic Party. Brooke’s challenge was dual in nature: repair the soul of the Republican Party while growing the confidence of African American voters. Indeed, Ed Brooke’s involvement in the GOP and civil rights broadens our scholarly understanding of the diversity of black politics and 20th-century American history.

Conscience of a Black Conservative: The 1964 Election & the Rise of the National Negro Republican Assembly

This article explores the activities of black Republicans during and after the 1964 Republican National Convention. The social turmoil of the 1960s, along with the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and Barry Goldwater’s selection as the GOP’s presidential nominee resulted in an unprecedented massive rejection of the Republican Party by 94 percent of the black electorate. This “6 Percent” moment forced black Republicans to rethink their relationship to the GOP. In turn, this redefinition served as a catalyst for the galvanization of liberal and moderate black party members, who then worked to promote a civil rights agenda within a fundamentally conservative framework.

Conscience of a Black Conservative: The 1964 Election & the Rise of the National Negro Republican AssemblyBook Chapter In painting Dixie Red.

This chapter provides a positive assessment of Richard Nixon’s appeals for minority enterprise as a crucial component of increasing black support for the GOP. As such, it provides a counter to traditional understandings of the Nixon Administration as one that exploited racial tensions through a “Southern Strategy.” The chapter understands minority enterprise initiatives as the echo of a central theme of black Republican ideology: one that wedded liberal appeals for racial equality with a belief in traditional Republican principles of self-help, thrift, entrepreneurship, and free enterprise.