Black Mayors, White Majorities: The Balancing Act of Racial Politics

By Ravi K. Perry | Go to book overview

PREFACE

The ideas expressed and researched in this book began as I was a high school student in Ohio. There, in Lucas County, I was actively involved in local and regional politics. A reliable volunteer for many candidates in my home county, I was infatuated with politics, so much so that the study of politics became my academic interest while I was an undergraduate at the University of Michigan. While at Michigan, my interest in wanting to know more about how the representation of black interests functioned in non-majority-black contexts blossomed under the direction of my recently deceased mentor, Professor Hanes Walton Jr. This research interest began as conversations in his office in Ann Arbor. His loss is still heavy and I expect it to always remain so, for this book and my career are a direct result of his encouragement.

This book offers a substantive critique of deracialization as applied to the black urban governing context in majority-white cities. Based in part on the normative argument that the election of black mayors in major cities should improve the quality of life for blacks in those cities, it explores how two such black mayors sought to advance black interests in their majority-white cities.

The “should” argument referenced above is based on the classic proposition that blacks expect so much from major-city black mayors.

Because blacks expect such a path, it warrants this book’s claim that it is viable to examine how the election of black mayors impacts the material and non-material lives of blacks in those cities.

In so doing, though, the book provokes a question: why hasn’t the increased political power of black mayors resulted in the vast im-

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