Event Title

Historical Influences on Implicit Racism: White Immigrant Identity in New York City Council Campaigns

Presenter Information

Becca Chant, Oberlin CollegeFollow

Location

King Building 101

Document Type

Presentation

Start Date

4-27-2019 9:30 AM

End Date

4-27-2019 10:50 AM

Research Program

Politics Honors

Abstract

In this paper I examine historical patterns of assimilation into whiteness for European immigrants in the United States, and how this history influences racism in political campaigns today. I begin with an overview of the construction of race and whiteness in the United States, and give context for early European immigrants in the United States. I then study candidates who ran for city council in New York City in the 2013 and 2017 election cycles, and look at the racially coded appeals used on the campaign trail. I find that candidates of white immigrant groups use more racially coded appeals than any other groups of candidates, and that membership of a white immigrant group is a good indicator for use of racially coded appeals, all else equal. While my analysis is quantitative, this is not a paper about who is more or less racist. Rather, I am arguing that the history of assimilation into whiteness has shaped racism today. I conclude that even though the mechanism of assimilation into whiteness has changed dramatically, the political attitudes it produced remain more or less the same. This paper helps understand one of the ways that history contributes to the functions of racism in the United States today.

Keywords:

whiteness, assimilation, behavioral path dependence, campaigns

Notes

Session I, Panel 1 - Racialized | Migration

Moderator: Laura Herron, Associate Dean for Academic Standing and Assistant Professor of Jewish Studies

Major

Politics

Advisor(s)

Jenny Garcia, Politics and Comparative American Studies

Project Mentor(s)

Mike Parkin, Politics

Renee Romano, History; Comparative American Studies; Africana Studies

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Apr 27th, 9:30 AM Apr 27th, 10:50 AM

Historical Influences on Implicit Racism: White Immigrant Identity in New York City Council Campaigns

King Building 101

In this paper I examine historical patterns of assimilation into whiteness for European immigrants in the United States, and how this history influences racism in political campaigns today. I begin with an overview of the construction of race and whiteness in the United States, and give context for early European immigrants in the United States. I then study candidates who ran for city council in New York City in the 2013 and 2017 election cycles, and look at the racially coded appeals used on the campaign trail. I find that candidates of white immigrant groups use more racially coded appeals than any other groups of candidates, and that membership of a white immigrant group is a good indicator for use of racially coded appeals, all else equal. While my analysis is quantitative, this is not a paper about who is more or less racist. Rather, I am arguing that the history of assimilation into whiteness has shaped racism today. I conclude that even though the mechanism of assimilation into whiteness has changed dramatically, the political attitudes it produced remain more or less the same. This paper helps understand one of the ways that history contributes to the functions of racism in the United States today.