Thanking all of the institutions, scholars, friends, and family who have supported me in this project may be the most daunting task of this entire endeavor. First, I would like to thank the members of Social Services Employees Union (SSEU) Local 371 in New York City. The former president, Charles Ensley (1941–2010), was an inspirational leader in so many ways. I will forever be indebted to Charles for his generosity. I have tried my best to present the story of this dynamic union and truly appreciate the entire union granting me access into their lives.
First and foremost I must thank Jim Glaser for introducing me to the field of political science at Tufts University. I fondly remember our discussions on how to conduct research in new cities, how not to make assumptions about interviewees, and the importance of thinking about a question that excites you to the core. Jim continues to be a diligent mentor and adviser and has laid much of my political science foundation and interest in American politics. Bob Shapiro, Ira Katznelson, and Ester Fuchs have guided me through the dense forest of academia and have each provided their own unique styles in aiding my scholarship. They read earlier drafts of the manuscript and I am grateful for their incisive comments and suggestions. Bob’s knowledge of quantitative methods and public opinion has introduced me to a new way of thinking about marginalized populations. Bob has consistently encouraged me “onward” throughout this project. Ira’s pointed questions of clarification consistently urged me to think about the larger picture. And Ester continues to remind me that my thoughts have real-world and policy implications. I have been privileged to work with these three groundbreaking scholars and take sole responsibility for any shortcomings in this project. I would also like to thank the anonymous Oxford University Press reviewers who provided substantive suggestions and constructive critiques of the entire manuscript. Their diligent reading of the project helped me to untie certain knots and tie up particular loose ends. I would also like to thank the team at Oxford University Press: David McBride, Sarah Rosenthal, and Gwen Colvin (p.x) have helped bring this book to fruition. I am extremely grateful to have worked with them for the multiple stages of this process.
I am forever beholden to several organizations and institutions that assisted in the funding of this research. I am thankful for the generous funding provided by Columbia University’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Political Science Department. I was also supported by the Institute for Social and Economic Research and Policy (ISERP) at Columbia University, the Institute for Research in African American Studies (IRAAS) at Columbia University, the Mendenhall Pre-Doctoral and Mellon Post-Doctoral Programs at Smith College, and a grant from SSEU Local 371. I was able to implement the survey with the assistance of the most dedicated research assistant and friend, Mirembe Nutt-Birigwa. Her excitement, dedication, and countless hours of survey folding and envelope stuffing in the initial stages of the project were more than I could have ever asked for.
I also had the privilege to present iterations of this project at several conferences. I received valuable comments and critiques of this work from scholars during presentations at APSA, MPSA, NCOBPS, CAAR, and ASWAD conferences. I have benefited from the work of several scholars of American politics, race and ethnicity and black politics. I have been influenced by and am extremely thankful for the scholarship of (in alphabetical order) Marissa Abrajano, Bob Erikson, Cathy Cohen, Michael Dawson, Rudy de la Garza, Nancy Foner, Jennifer Hochschild, Vince Hutchings, Kim Johnson, Jane Junn, Philip Kasinitz, Taeku Lee, Robert Lieberman, John Mollenkopf, Melissa Nobles, Diane Pinderhughes, Karthick Ramakrishnan, Reuel Rogers, Mark Sawyer, Lester Spence, Phil Thompson, Al Tillery, and Mary Waters. Their books and articles have been so influential to my professional and intellectual development, and I appreciate their willingness to create innovative paths for future generations of scholars of race and ethnic politics.
I am also extremely thankful for the collegial support and advice of the Political Science Department at Fordham University. Jeff Cohen and Monika McDermott read early iterations of the framework of this project, and Susan Berger, Tom Deluca, John Entelis, and Nicole Fermon have been especially encouraging throughout the book process. The Government Department and the African-American Studies Department at Smith College were also very instrumental during the beginning and final stages of this work. I have benefited tremendously from my conversations with Martha Ackelsberg and Greg White over the years. I would also like to thank Lori Minnite for generously providing the New American Exit Poll data.
At times writing this book felt like a lonely and Sisyphean task. However, it was made so much easier because of the humor, listening ears, and positive energy of colleagues who have become dear friends. They each listened to my (p.xi) ideas and served as enthusiastic motivators. I have benefited a great deal from the exchange of ideas with Joe Bafumi, Robin Hayes, Patrice Howard, Karine Jean-Pierre, Zachariah Mampilly, Kristin Murphy, Kaori Shoji, and Jessica Stanton. During the final laps of this project, I would not have made it without the constant encouragement of Travis Adkins and Dorian Warren. I also could not have asked for three greater writing partners, advice givers, and supreme champions of this work in Sheldon Applewhite, Daphne Lamothe, and Niambi Carter. Each provided invaluable edits and laughter when I needed them most. My success in completing this book has been aided by countless friends and family members who have called, e-mailed, and sent notes and prayers these past few years. These friends and family members helped this goal become a reality, and for them I am forever grateful.
I am most indebted to my mother and father for providing my intellectual foundation as well as an infinite well of support, patience and genuine love. Thank you for your belief in me and for all of the sacrifices you have made to help me achieve so many of my goals. My sister, Dr. Florencia Greer Polite, has been and remains a trailblazer, mentor, best big sister, and constant source of inspiration and reassurance. Last, I can never adequately express my gratitude for the unwavering encouragement I receive from Sam Roberts. I could try to find the words to express my appreciation, but the words just do not exist. There is no other partner with whom I would rather share all aspects of this journey.
Christina M. Greer