Crises, Race, Acknowledgement: The Centrality of Race, Ethnicity, and Politics to the Future of Political Science

Crises, Race, Acknowledgement: The Centrality of Race, Ethnicity, and Politics to the Future of Political Science

By Paula D. McClain, Duke University

The United States, and the world, is in the grips of a coronavirus pandemic, and in the United States, we are facing a crisis of faith in the fairness of our political institutions, particularly the ability of Black Americans to live without the fear of dying at the hands of the police for going about their daily lives. Race has been and continues to be intertwined with American government and politics, in general, and how the United States approaches crises, in particular. Racial minority groups have been scapegoats for the failings of American policy makers to deal with numerous crises historically and at present. Race and racism are also at the foundation of the origins of American political science. The racism at the roots of our discipline’s founding have created a blindness to the significance and importance of the field of Race, Ethnicity, and Politics (REP) to the study of politics, democracy, and how American society reacts during a crisis. Our discipline is also at an inflection point that requires us to acknowledge its racist origins, confront its continued influence on the present, and finally to move forward in recognizing the importance of REP to the health and future of the discipline.