Eight years ago, we began collaborating on what became a series of articles that have now culminated in this book. We started because we found we shared dissatisfactions with the way that issues of race were addressed, or more often not addressed, in much of the political science literature on American politics and American political development. This book builds on our initial thoughts, but it also represents substantial learning and rethinking along the way. In our earlier work, we leaned heavily toward one side of the current racial policy debate. Here, without altering our motivating commitments, we are more critical of both sides. Our current positions, like those in our previous publications, emerged from so many discussions that we cannot assign individual responsibility for them. We also have each worked extensively on every chapter, so there is no need and no way to parse contributions. The order of the authors’ names in all our collaborations simply reflects who initiated the project. In this case, Desmond King insisted it was time we did a book. As in his wine selections and in his constant vigilance against unneeded adverbs, he was right. Conversely, responsibility for any remaining superfluous modifiers falls to Rogers Smith. All other blame we share equally.
Our arguments have evolved in part because of the excellent and generous critical feedback we have received along the way, including the comments of the anonymous readers of this book and our previous published papers. We have presented the preceding articles and portions of this book to far too many academic audiences to detail our debts to them. They have included conference, panel, seminar and workshop participants at several annual meetings of the American Political Science Association, the Bologna Center of Johns Hopkins University, the European University Institute, Harvard University, Monmouth University, Princeton University, Sciences Po, Skidmore College, Temple University, UC Berkeley, University of Notre Dame, University of Oregon, University of Pennsylvania, UC Santa Barbara, University of Southern Denmark, Odense, Washington University, Wayne State University, and Yale University, among other venues. We are particularly indebted for often critical but always perceptive comments in these and other locales from Christopher Achen, Larry Bartels, Lawrence Bobo, Alan Brinkley, Kevin Bruyneel, Cathy Cohen, Paul Frymer, Lisa García Bedolla, Jane Gordon, Marie Gottschalk, Michael Graetz, Michael Hagen, Victoria Hattam, Jennifer Hochschild, David Hollinger, Kimberley Johnson, Richard Johnston, Ira Katznelson, Philip