Black Mosaic

The Politics of Black Pan-Ethnic Diversity

320 pages

1 map, 6 figures, 13 tables

October, 2014

ISBN: 9781479805310



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Candis Watts Smith is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Williams College. She received her PhD from Duke University and was awarded the 2013 Best Dissertation Award from the Race, Ethnicity and Politics Section of the American Political Science Association.

All books by Candis Watts Smith

Historically, Black Americans have easily found common ground on political, social, and economic goals. Yet, there are signs of increasing variety of opinion among Blacks in the United States, due in large part to the influx of Afro-Latino, Afro-Caribbean, and African immigrants to the United States. In fact, the very definition of “African American” as well as who can self-identity as Black is becoming more ambiguous. Should we expect African Americans’ shared sense of group identity and high sense of group consciousness to endure as ethnic diversity among the population increases? In Black Mosaic, Candis Watts Smith addresses the effects of this dynamic demographic change on Black identity and Black politics.

Smith explores the numerous ways in which the expanding and rapidly changing demographics of Black communities in the United States call into question the very foundations of political identity that has united African Americans for generations. African Americans’ political attitudes and behaviors have evolved due to their historical experiences with American Politics and American racism. Will Black newcomers recognize the inconsistencies between the American creed and American reality in the same way as those who have been in the U.S. for several generations? If so, how might this recognition influence Black immigrants’ political attitudes and behaviors? Will race be a site of coalition between Black immigrants and African Americans? In addition to face-to-face interviews with African Americans and Black immigrants, Smith employs nationally representative survey data to examine these shifts in the attitudes of Black Americans. Filling a significant gap in the political science literature to date, Black Mosaic is a groundbreaking study about the state of race, identity, and politics in an ever-changing America.


  • “This book is a welcome addition to scholarship on the politics of race and ethnicity in the United States. Candis Watts Smith’s analysis reveals the complexity of Black racial identity within the context of greater ethnic diversity, and provides a robust and theoretically rich explanation for the boundaries of Black identity. Black Mosaic is a signal contribution and essential reading for scholars of American politics.”

    —Jane Junn, author of The Politics of Belonging: Race, Public Opinion, and Immigration

  • “Smith’s exceptional book provides a solid theoretical as well as an empirical road map for scholars wishing to increase their understanding of how Black Americans, Blacks from the Americas, as well as African immigrants conceptualize and think about the meaning of blackness. Black Mosaic surely will become required reading for students and scholars in the field.”

    —Ronald E. Brown, Associate Professor of Political Science, Wayne State University

  • Black Mosaic addresses a significant, and often-neglected, subject in African American politics.The prose is engaging and accessible, the scholarship is first-rate, and the conclusions are illuminating.As our nation becomes increasingly diverse, this subject will only become more important over time.”

    —Vincent Hutchings, author of Public Opinion and Democratic Accountability