Center for Politics and Race in America Hosts Conversation on Black Republicans, Racial Myths in Political Life

Event flyer for Why Does Everything Have to be About Race

The new Center for Politics and Race in America at Rutgers-Newark will host its first public event, a conversation with national experts Clay Cane and Keith Boykin, who’ve authored recent books on Black Republicans and common racial myths exploited by politicians.

The February 1 event, held at Ruth Bader Ginsburg Hall from 6:00PM to 8:00PM, will feature a talk with Cane, a Rutgers-Newark alumnus and author of the "The Grift: The Downward Spiral of Black Republicans from the Party of Lincoln to the Cult of Trump” and Boykin, author of “Why Does Everything Have to Be About Race?” It will be moderated by the center’s co-directors, James Jones, a professor of Sociology and Africana Studies, and Jacqueline Mattis, Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences-Newark.

The Center for Politics and Race in America, established last year with state funding, will provide valuable data and insight into America’s political landscape during a tumultuous election year, when race has been a central and often polarizing concern among voters.

“This is a pivotal moment where there is an assault on knowledge about racism and race, sweeping attempts at misinformation, and diminishing support for public institutions,’’ said Jones, author of the upcoming book “The Last Plantation” about racism on Capitol Hill. His book will be published in May by Princeton University Press.

“The center is well positioned to address these threats to our democracy through research and education that aims to enlighten, empower, and expand who can participate in American politics,’’ said Jones, a leading authority on congressional staff diversity who has authored three groundbreaking policy reports.

The multidisciplinary center is a non-partisan “fact tank” with a three-part mission that makes it unique among academic centers in the field, most of which are privately funded, said Jones. It center aims to be a resource that rapidly disseminates high-quality data and faculty scholarship on race and politics at the national and state level–with a particular focus on New Jersey–and a place for cutting-edge training in political research methods and data analysis. It also seeks to diversify the field of young people who have access to careers in government and public service through paid internships and other programs.

Rutgers-Newark faculty affiliated with the center include nationally and internationally known experts. “We will produce research that is rigorous, relevant and publicly accessible,’’ said Jones.

Center research already underway includes a study by Data Science professor Nicole Richardson on whether African Americans vote as a monolith, which surveys voters on individual issues and examines trends. 

There will also be a nationwide analysis of Islamophobia against Muslim politicians by law professor Sahar Aziz, head of the Center for Race, Rights and Security, who is a nationally known expert on Islamophobia.

Alex Hinton, an anthropologist and authority on genocide, has published findings on the history of  white supremacy, anti-semitism and “white replacement fear’’ in New Jersey,  a far-right conspiracy theory that has roots in centuries-old fears of whites being annihilated by Native Americans and slave revolts.  

Other projects include Political Science professor Hyacinth Miller’s oral history of political change agents in New Jersey who are immigrants or second-generation women of Caribbean, African, Latina, Indigenous and Asian descent.

Janice Gallagher, a political scientist focusing on the causes of Latin American migration and consequences of family separation, will build on her recent book, “Bootstrap Justice,”  which centers the voices of victims of state and criminal violence in new research on transnational activism. 

Together with researchers from Oxford, University of Denver and UNAM, the National Autonomous University of Mexico, she will host a research conference in March on Afro-Latinx, Indigenous and women’s leadership in the face of state violence in the U.S. and Latin America . 

In addition to research, another goal of the center is to provide education and support to students hoping to access government jobs and political office, including internships on Capitol Hill.

According to Jones’ research, in 2021 76 percent of paid congressional interns were white, compared to  52 percent of the national undergraduate population. Black and Latino students comprise 15 percent and 20 percent of undergraduates nationally but just 6.7 percent and 7.9 percent of paid Hill interns. Such jobs are often a stepping stone to political careers and top positions in the private sector and public service, said Jones.

Center scholarships will support students working on the center’s projects and provide leadership training and paid internships in partnership with Braven, a non-profit that helps promising, underrepresented young students develop job skills and networking experience. The Center’s support will also match student fellows with faculty looking for research assistants.

Another component of the center will be to encourage civic engagement and educate voters, especially in Essex County. Researchers plan to make the tools and expertise needed to collect political data available to the public, in addition to students who will be trained at the center.

 

About the Center for Politics and Race in America

The center is a  resource that rapidly disseminates high-quality data and faculty scholarship on race and politics at the national and state level–with a particular focus on New Jersey–and a place for cutting-edge training in political research methods and data analysis. It also seeks to diversify the field of young people who have access to careers in government and public service through paid internships and other programs.