The political color line in America: Many "peoples of color" or black exceptionalism?

  • Sears D
  • Savalei V
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Abstract

Despite the successes of the civil rights movement, a largely impermeable color line continues to restrict African Americans front assimilation into the broader American society In the meantime high rates of immigration have produced an increasingly culturally diverse population. A "people of color" hypothesis suggests that the color line the new immigrants face resembles that imposed on African Americans. A "black exceptionalism " hypothesis suggests instead that the color line will be more porous for them, allowing for greater assimilation over successive generations, including a gradual weakening of politicized racial and ethnic group consciousness. Using data firom Los Angeles County Social Surveys, we find that the largest new immigrant group, Latinos, like blacks, show strongly group interested policy preferences and strong group consciousness. However both effects are strongerfor recent Latino immigrants thanjor the U.S.-born. We conclude that the new immigrant groups are increasingly likely to assimilate politically into the broader society in fitture generations, whereas a rather strict color line will continue to restrict blacks and maintain their distinctiveness.

Author-supplied keywords

  • African Americans
  • Assimilation
  • Black exceptionalism
  • Color line
  • Group consciousness
  • Immigration
  • Latinos
  • People of color

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Authors

  • David O. Sears

  • Victoria Savalei

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