Colonial-Era Paternalism Still Hurts Blacks, Says Professor Malone in New Book on Race and Voting

That paternalistic view may be more enlightened than thinking blacks are “essentially different from, and thereby inherently inferior to, whites.” But despite the Civil Rights movement, the condescending blinders of racial paternalism have dominated “the logic of integration … from the 1960’s right up to the present,” argues Christopher Malone, a political scientist who is an associate professor at Pace University, in a new book.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contacts
Cara Halstead Cea, Pace University, (914)906-9680, chalstead@pace.edu
Sarah De Vos, Senior Marketing Manager, Routledge, 212-216-7824, sarah.devos@taylorandfrancis.com

Review copies may be requested from Sarah De Vos, above.

Photo editors — the cover of the book is a vivid, post-Civil War handbill showing a crowd of black people crowding to get through a door labeled “Polls.” The image is from the New York Historical Society (negative # 78876) and may be available from the society or Sarah De Vos.

COLONIAL-ERA PATERNALISM STILL HURTS BLACKS,
SAYS PACE UNIVERSITY POLITICAL SCIENTIST
IN NEW BOOK ON RACE AND VOTING

“Between Freedom and Bondage: Race, Party, and Voting Rights in the Antebellum North” published this month

NEW YORK, NY – “The mental, moral, and psychological characteristics found in blacks [are] to be overcome only under the watchful gaze of paternalistic whites.”

That paternalistic view may be more enlightened than thinking blacks are “essentially different from, and thereby inherently inferior to, whites.” But despite the Civil Rights movement, the condescending blinders of racial paternalism have dominated “the logic of integration … from the 1960’s right up to the present,” argues Christopher Malone, a political scientist who is an associate professor at Pace University, in a new book.

“Between Freedom and Bondage: Race, Party, and Voting Rights in the Antebellum North” (Routledge, 2007) puts an x-ray to the broader topic of the denial of basic rights by looking into the ways blacks obtained and lost the vote in four Northern states in the years before the Civil War.

Malone concludes that unequal treatment for blacks comes from a mix of racial belief systems, “racial conflict as an outgrowth of rapid economic and demographic change,” and “political actors [who] … prey on this racial conflict by arousing poorer white working classes.” The racial belief system still in operation, he finds, is paternalism, and it goes back further than most Americans may realize, to the early days of the republic.

Little-known struggles. Malone knows both North and South, having grown up in New Orleans and earned his PhD at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. A popular Pace teacher, he also is director of the Pforzheimer Honors College at Pace’s downtown New York campus.

His book begins with the 2006 reauthorization of the landmark Voting Rights Act first passed in 1965. His narrative then takes the reader back in time by connecting that legislation to the little-known struggles for African-Americans’ right to vote in the antebellum North.

Northerners may be surprised by his evidence that paternalism, dominant in New York State in the Revolutionary period, had receded there by the 1820s. Alexander Hamilton and his cohorts had been “willing to take a chance that blacks possessed the mental capabilities for many of the responsibilities of citizenship.” But at a state Constitutional Convention of 1821, one Samuel Young exemplified a widespread “transformation” when he bluntly said “The minds of blacks are not competent to vote. They are too degraded to estimate the value, or exercise with fidelity and discretion this important right.”

Joining scholars who refute the notion that expansion of the franchise in the U.S. has been steady and “inevitable,” Malone writes: “Nothing is ever inevitable when it comes to the basic rights in American democracy.”

In an epilogue, Malone returns to contemporary racial politics and argues that the unfinished quality of the “Two Reconstructions” – the post- Civil War era and the modern civil rights movement – can be better understood by grasping what happened for African Americans in the early years of the Republic.

Historic blue blood on modern ideas. In a pre-publication review Leon Wynter, author of “American Skin: Pop Culture, Big Business, and the End of White America,” notes that “The party names have evolved …. and even rotated over 300 years, but Malone still draws a straight sociopolitical line between the North’s original blue-blood, slave-holding revolutionaries of 1776 and today’s race politics of paternalism, on both sides of the ideological fence.”

Adds Frances Fox Piven, Distinguished Professor of Political Science and Sociology at the CUNY Graduate Center and author of numerous books on social movements and voting in the United States, “Malone shows that the basic democratic issue of who shall vote was intimately entwined with the role of race in the economy, in partisan competition, and ultimately in political culture.”

For 101 years Pace University has combined exceptional academics with professional experiences and the advantages of the New York metropolitan area. A private university, Pace has campuses in New York City and Westchester County, New York, enrolling more than 13,500 students in bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral programs in its Dyson College of Arts and Sciences, Lienhard School of Nursing, Lubin School of Business, School of Education, School of Law, and Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems. www.pace.edu.

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