American While Black: African Americans, Immigration, and the Limits of Citizenship

ISBN : 9780190053550

Niambi Michele Carter
272 ページ
156 x 156 mm

Winner of the National Association of Black Political Scientists W.E.B. Du Bois Distinguished Book Award​

  • Introduces a new theory titled "conflicted nativism", which provides an understanding of the divergent contours of black opinion vis-a-vis immigration
  • Offers the first theory of black public opinion toward immigration
  • Draws on original survey and interview material


At the same time that the Civil Rights Movement brought increasing opportunities for blacks, the United States liberalized its immigration policy. While the broadening of the United States's borders to non-European immigrants fits with a black political agenda of social justice, recent waves of immigration have presented a dilemma for blacks, prompting ambivalent or even negative attitudes toward migrants. What has an expanded immigration regime meant for how blacks express national attachment?
In this book, Niambi Michele Carter argues that immigration, both historically and in the contemporary moment, has served as a reminder of the limited inclusion of African Americans in the body politic. As Carter contends, blacks use the issue of immigration as a way to understand the nature and meaning of their American citizenship-specifically the way that white supremacy structures and constrains not just their place in the American political landscape, but their political opinions as well. White supremacy gaslights black people, and others, into critiquing themselves and each other instead of white supremacy itself. But what may appear to be a conflict between blacks and other minorities is about self-preservation. Carter draws on original interview material and empirical data on African American political opinion to offer the first theory of black public opinion toward immigration.


Chapter 1: Lies, Fairytales and Fallacies: Immigration and the Complexity of Black Public Opinion
Chapter 2: Citizens First? African Americans as Conflicted Nativists
Chapter 3: Emigrants, Immigrants and Refugees: Immigration as a Strategy for Black Liberation (1815-1862)
Chapter 4: (Re)Remembering Race: Collective Memory and Racial Hierarchy in the Present
Chapter 5: Conflicted Nativism an Empirical View

Appendix A
Appendix B


Niambi Michele Carter is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Howard University. Her work focuses on racial and ethnic politics in the United States, specifically public opinion and political behavior of African Americans.

"American While Black provides a starting point for an area of immigration studies rarely examined by scholars: the attitudes of black Americans toward immigrants. Though the book is not exhaustive, it provides a seminal framework for starting policy and political conversations regarding the attitudes and beliefs of black Americans who share a history of slavery, Jim Crow, segregation, and institutional racism. Carter (political science, Howard Univ.) is skillful in approaching the overarching topic of black political behavior through the lens of immigration. Specifically, she discusses black citizenship, identity politics, relationships between minorities in the US, and the implications of a shared black American experience for discourse on immigration." - L. T. Grover, Southern University and A&M College, CHOICE

"American While Black offers readers a much-needed discussion and analysis of Black attitudes on immigration, and convincingly demonstrates their wide-ranging set of opinions. Carter provides a sophisticated and nuanced explanation that deftly considers the way white supremacy and racial hierarchy structures intergroup relations and attitudes. This is an important book that all immigration scholars should read in order have a more comprehensive understanding of the diversity of immigration attitudes in the US." - Marisa Abrajano, University of California San Diego

"American While Black represents a groundbreaking study of public opinion, forcing us to rethink what we have learned about views towards racialized public policy issues such as immigration in the United States. This book is beautifully written, displaying Carter's ability to present rigorous analytical findings in a concise, thoughtful, and careful manner, that uplifts the voices of Black people. In doing so, she lights the way for future researchers to understand racial attitudes toward policy issues that affect us all in this changing American political landscape." - Lorrie Frasure-Yokley, author of Racial and Ethnic Politics in American Suburbs

"This book is a bold and unapologetic account of Black attitudes on immigration. It places the experiences of Black Americans at the center of its narrative on this important subject. It also highlights the role that White supremacy plays in structuring Black politics and Black attitudes on immigration. Carter provides a novel perspective on two of the most pressing issues of our time: race and immigration." - Vincent L. Hutchings, University of Michigan

"Once in a decade a book is published that stops the reader in her tracks, pulling her into a narrative so persuasive, so richly researched, so penetrating, that one can never think about the topic in the same way again. Niambi Carter has written this book. Her articulation of conflicted nativism among African Americans forges new and fertile ground in revealing the dynamics of race within the constraints of the U.S. racial hierarchy." - Jane Junn, University of Southern California

"American While Black is a revelation. Carter examines 'how and why race matters in black public opinion on immigration.' This creative and thought-provoking work is required reading for any student of Race-Ethnicity and Politics. Carter plants her thoughtful volume at the center of contemporary conflicts and debates over assimilation, white supremacy, European immigration, natural born citizenship, and the ongoing struggles Black Americans have waged for recognition of their 'immunities and protections granted by the constitution.'" - Dianne M. Pinderhughes, co-author of Contested Transformation: Race,  Gender, and Political Leadership in 21st Century America

"Too many studies on Americans' attitudes about immigration focus solely on the responses of whites while ignoring the reactions of nonwhites. Carter's lens-shifting book moves African Americans from the margins to the center of longstanding immigration debates in the U.S. Reminding us that African Americans often have been reduced to the status of virtual strangers and second-class citizens in their own land, Carter explores how the group has reacted to the arrival of new immigrants over time and across the country. The book documents a great deal of incertitude and ambivalence in African Americans' attitudes toward immigration. Yet Carter perceptively points to one certainty in their views: African Americans believe that immigration, like so many other issues, is entangled with this country's race problem. It is this most familiar and uncomfortable truth about American democracy that Carter unflinchingly confronts in this powerful book." - Reuel Rogers, Northwestern University