Race relations in the United States have long been volatile - marked on the one hand by distrust and violence, but tempered on the other by periods of conciliation, integration and relative harmony. This path-breaking blend of history, sociology, political science and economics argues that the key factor determining the quality of race relations is economic: When economic equality spreads so do social and political equality. Conversely, economic downturns and widening income disparities promote political inequality, polarizing blacks and whites. To support this provocative thesis the author examines key events and eras in American history since the Reconstruction - particularly the black migration and the New Deal policies of the interwar years, the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 60s, and the rise and decline of affirmative action in the late twentieth century. He also analyzes the racial policies and politics of the major political parties and shows how they "played the race card" to win support.
Introduction; 1. The Resurgence of Racial Conflict; 2. Racial Politics and Stable Majorities; 3. The Decline of Racial Democratization; 4. Resurgent Democratization and the End of White Supremacy; 5. The Changing Dynamics of Class and Labor; 6. Inequality and Popular Sovereignty; 7. Rising Economic Inequality, Racial Polarization and the Prospects for the Future; Bibliography