"Can We All Get along?": Racial and Ethnic Minorities in American Politics

"Can We All Get along?": Racial and Ethnic Minorities in American Politics

"Can We All Get along?": Racial and Ethnic Minorities in American Politics

"Can We All Get along?": Racial and Ethnic Minorities in American Politics

Excerpt

This book is the result of a collaboration that began over a bottle of cabernet sauvignon at the 1992 American Political Science Association (APSA) meeting in Chicago. What started as an evening devoted to reading papers quickly turned into a discussion of the difficulties of teaching a true minority group politics course.

Some universities, depending on their location, have a course devoted to a particular group—for example, black politics, Latino politics, Asian politics, American Indian politics—or even a more specialized course such as Mexican American politics or Puerto Rican politics. Indeed, we have both taught such courses. But more commonly the demand is for an umbrella course that, ideally, compares the politics of the four principal US racial and ethnic minority groups—blacks, Latinos, American Indians, and Asian Americans—and their relationships with the majority. This is the situation at our current institutions.

Such umbrella courses generally take one of two forms. The less-thanideal alternative is focused on one ethnic group because that is where the interest and expertise of the instructor lie. In such situations, it is possible for a student to take the same course twice from different instructors, never to encounter overlapping patterns and never explicitly to consider interminority group relations. The second, preferable form involves undertaking a comparative examination of the politics of the major racial and ethnic minorities of the United States. This is an idealized alternative because, as we can report from personal experience, it is difficult to implement. One must spend countless hours amassing data from various sources in an attempt to draw out the similarities and the differences among the groups and to develop the depth and nuance that characterize a good course.

Toward the bottom of the bottle of wine, we decided that we had sufficient expertise on black and Latino politics and enough familiarity with the literature of American Indian and Asian American politics to write a book for a true junior/senior-level minority politics class. We mentioned . . .

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