Thursday, May 23, 2013

Christina M. Greer's "Black Ethnics"

Christina M Greer is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Fordham University. She makes frequent appearances on television and in print media, discussing issues of race and ethnicity, immigration, campaigns and elections, and local and national politics.

She applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, Black Ethnics: Race, Immigration, and the Pursuit of the American Dream, and reported the following:
This is such a fantastic intellectual exercise, I wish I had known about it before writing my book, I would have made sure page 99 was the crown jewel of the entire book. I turned to my page 99 and saw that, although it does not summarize the entire book, it does touch on the important topic of fair treatment of black Americans and Afro-Caribbeans. In that, it analyzes data pertaining to whether or not black ethnic groups feel they are treated well once in the US. The data suggest initial clues in the distinct attitudes of black ethnic, white, and Latino respondents. My page 99 does echo the larger theme of Black Ethnics, which is a complex tension between the shared racial and distinct ethnic identity for black American, Afro-Caribbean, and African groups living in the US.

Race in America is an amalgamation of historical contexts, modern-day experiences, and projections of group dynamics. Therefore, this particular struggle between unified phenotypic racial identity versus cultural and ethnic distinction affects intra-racial relationships among blacks and also exposes a different picture of modern-day race relations involving black interactions with white and other nonblack members of society.

Who exactly is African American in the twenty-first century, and how are we defining this individual? Blacks are not a monolithic group, they have expanded beyond the civil rights generation narrative, where everyone is a descendant of US slavery, the South, and the black Baptist tradition. Black Ethnics takes a snapshot of the steadily increasing and diversifying black population, which has over 5 million foreign-born blacks from throughout the Caribbean and across the continent of Africa. Given the interactions of the “old” blacks versus the “new” blacks, we must ask what the future holds for these groups as they continue to compete for resources, negotiate descriptive and substantive representation, and pursue the promises of the polity.

To be very clear, Black Ethnics is not about determining which black ethnic group works hardest, nor is it about which black group is most likely to succeed. It does aim, however, to present the complexity of race and ethnicity for both native-born and foreign-born blacks living in America and to ascertain the possibilities for political coalitions in specific policy areas. Black Ethnics presents a multilayered identity for foreign-born and native-born blacks and examines how racial and ethnic identity directly affects foreign-born blacks’ concepts of group racial identity. It also shows how Afro-Caribbean and African black populations impact black Americans and their perceptions of race, ethnic identity, a collective future, and fulfillment of the American Dream.
Read more about Black Ethnics at the Oxford University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue