Changing white attitutes towards black leadership - download pdf or read online

By Zoltan L. Hajnal

Regardless of the hopes of the civil rights circulation, researchers have stumbled on that the election of African american citizens to workplace has now not significantly more suitable the healthiness of the black group. by way of moving the point of interest to the white neighborhood, this e-book exhibits that black illustration may have a profound impression. using nationwide public opinion surveys, information on balloting styles in huge American towns, and in-depth stories of l. a. and Chicago, Zoltan Hajnal demonstrates that lower than so much black mayors there's actual, optimistic switch within the white vote and within the racial attitudes of white citizens. this modification happens simply because black incumbency presents concrete info that disproves the fears and expectancies of many white citizens. those findings not just spotlight the significance of black illustration; additionally they exhibit the serious function that details can play in racial politics to the purpose the place black illustration can profoundly regulate white perspectives and white votes.

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If black representation leads to positive change on both measures, then we have compelling evidence in favor of the information model. To accomplish both of these tasks and to systematically assess changes in white political behavior under black representation, I examine three different data sets related to black mayoral leadership. In each case, I do not examine a handful of black representatives in one or two cities – as past studies have generally done – but instead I examine an entire universe of cases of white reactions to black representation.

Coleman Young, for example, was arguably one of the most radical black mayors of his generation. He vigorously pursued affirmative action and often put the black community first, but by the end of his tenure in Detroit, only a tiny fraction of white residents had lost their jobs or their homes because of his actions. 13 In fact, even if black mayors wanted to radically redistribute resources toward the black community, the reality is that in most cases they probably could not. Even in cities where they have a great deal of power, mayors generally cannot unilaterally redistribute wealth or reform the macroeconomy.

To the extent that this is true, having African Americans in positions of leadership poses a real threat to whites. When blacks attain positions of power over the white community, the pre-existing racial order is turned upside down, regardless of what black leaders do in office. Since the stability of the racial order is critical to the white community, there is every reason to believe that whites will respond to black electoral victory with counter-mobilization. As Piven and Cloward predicted in the late 1960s before the election of the nation’s first big-city black mayors, “Negro control can only deepen racial cleavages in the urban area” (1977: 17).

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