Few people know that outside of the formal appeal for Reparations, Blacks were fighting for wealth redistribution to from the start of Reconstruction. A major goal of Black politicians was wealth redistribution. I describe the basics of that here. 3/N cambridge.org/core/journals/…
When social scientists tell us that violent protests "don't work" or "are ineffective" they seem to forget how effective white political violence has been in history and continues to be. Is it that "violence" doesn't work, or that "black violence" doesn't work? A thread. 1/N
We can start with Reconstruction violence. Whites rebelled in Southern Redemption with unprecedented levels of violence. Whites were effective in attacking black politicians and totally reversing the policy gains made during Reconstruction. 2/N nber.org/papers/w26014
As @drlisadcook shows, racial violence in the form of lynching, race riots, and segregation laws limited black invention and innovation. This depressed black economic output and national economic growth. Again, extremely effective. 3/N link.springer.com/article/10.100…
Dad: When they killed Chaney Goodman and Schwerner in ‘64.
Dad: They thought they could kill white folks like they did black folks. No sir, no sir! That was their biggest mistake. You can’t do that. Police messing up
In his Ellisonian way, I think my Dad has a point. In our history, abuses to black people are socially acceptable. We’ve seen footage since motion pictures began of atrocities committed against black people. Before that, we have photos. They are an American perennial. 2/N
But if there is one thing that white people in a white supremacist society will not, under most circumstances, accept it is being treated like black people. It is part of the racial compact. Irrespective of ones politics, every white person is supposed to uphold this. 3/N
Just so you know— around 70% of meat packing employees are black or Hispanic. Nearly 50% are immigrants. 15% lack health insurance. Forcing them to work in a pandemic has nothing to do with a “free market” but everything to do with ruthlessness and disregard for human life.
Hearing people use “free market” rhetoric during a pandemic (mostly libertarians and conservatives) tells you one of the key failures of economics— our models lack context. A working being forced back to work when 20+ million are unemployed is actually Marxian theory at work.
We are not operating in a free market. So just stop. These are not “voluntary quits” as they are not voluntary and they are not quits. This is putting a gun to the head of the working poor and acting like there’s nothing wrong with this. It’s sick.
@jcbecker93 Great thread here! Many of these points are made in Thomas Boston’s A Different Vision (2 vol) and in the theory of stratification Econ by Darity and Hamilton. A big part of why these frames were/are successful is that they are egocentric and race is ad hoc. Econs love that...
@jcbecker93 More specifically, there really aren’t any groups in the model who might derive pecuniary gains from discrimination. There’s no social hierarchy and there is no racial context. This also means Econs have been thinking about race in deeply flawed ways for a very, very long time
This paper describes the work we’ve been doing with the Negro Motorists Greenbooks, which were published from the late 1930s until the Civil Rights Act of 1964. We are very excited that we can talk about some of the work we’ve been doing with the Green Books!
Greenbooks helped black people navigate a treacherous environment. Leveraging the network of black postal workers, the Greenbooks complied a national directory of businesses where black people could be treated like...people. Say, a gas station you could use the restroom at.
Excited to see my paper “Do Black Politicians Matter? Evidence from Reconstruction” out in the Journal of Economic History. This paper shows the impact (and possible alternative future) if blacks has been granted full citizenship. 1/N bit.ly/38SAsgk
The main issue— we know very little about the quantitative effect of black politicians during Reconstruction. Did they influence policy? This question goes all the way back to Dunning and DuBois. 2/N
This issue is complicated. I take the politicians in Foner’s “Freedom’s Lawmakers” and match them to their county of service. I find that black politicians are positively related to county tax revenue. This is consistent with DuBois’ argument in Black Reconstruction. 3/N
Still overjoyed from receiving the @socscihist Founders Prize, I’d like to share more about why this prize proves that we desperately need diverse voices in the economics profession. To be blunt— if it wasn’t for me being black, this paper would *never* have happened. A thread.
The idea for the segregation measure comes from my paternal grandmother, who passed away in 2011. She could vividly recall every household on her street from the 1930 Cenusus. She literally walked me down memory lane of her young adulthood in Coffeeville, MS. This was in 2010.
In that process I learned that she lived on a street with white households. My grandmother grew up as a sharecropper, and the narrative we typically hold is one of complete segregation, particularly in rural areas in the cotton south. Her life told me that wasn’t universally true
A Thread About School Segregation: During Reconstruction, local black communities did not push integrated public schools as the South moved to the first public schools on a large scale. They wanted equal funding for their schools. There was a brief moment of relative parity.
Whites were openly hostile to the idea of ANY education for African Americans. They considered it wasted money. One of the top complaints during Redemption was that school funds for black students were a waste.
As highlighted by @KeriLeighMerrit, the South was against education for the masses generally, but they were absolutely terrified about what schooling for blacks would do. An educated population with the right to vote could undue their policies designed to reinforce inequality.
Today I’m reviewing a paper by a senior economist who asked for my feeeback. I regularly send drafts of my papers out to others working in the same area. However, for as much work as I do in race and economic history it is quite rare for any white scholar to ask me my opinion 1/N
There could be several reasons for this, but in thinking about the sociology of science this means that very few black scholars are involved in the production of economic knowledge about black people. This has a material impact on the quality of the work 2/N
Why? The black intellectual tradition has always been about alternative theoretical and methodological approaches. Without these, we’re not truly analyzing black people as much as what white scholars have mythologized about black people. 3/N
Nice piece on Reconstruction. Two things are always missing from the narrative, however, Black political efficacy and the failure to adopt a policy of wealth redistribution. The white South won because we are still using their language and assumptions. newyorker.com/magazine/2019/…
First, we can start with activists such as Callie House, who argued for reparations and planned to use seized Southern cotton to fund it. Naturally, she was arrested and jailed. Mary Frances Berry wrote her biography in My a Face is Black is True penguinrandomhouse.com/books/12958/my…
Next, we can look at politicians themselves. We talk a lot about representation, but what good is representation if it isn’t effective? We need to be clear that black politicians in Reconstruction were dangerous because they were quite effective. nber.org/papers/w24190
In my own case, a paper was submitted to a journal in my field and I was asked to review it. As I started reading there were turns of phrasing which were very familiar to me. It had all of the words I typically edit OUT of a paper...something wasn’t right.
Economic history is returning to (particularly bad) form. Reading the economic history of slavery and thinking about contemporary economic history research has convinced me that this generation is making the same mistakes of previous generations, and hurting the field overall.
Context: I’m reading and teaching the economics of slavery. So going back through this debate is like a time machine full of famous economic historians and intense debate. It was the best and worst of economic history. We have not learned our lesson.
My take is that the main problems of the economic history of slavery were a lack of serious engagement with the historical literature and an overly zealous use of data to answer questions of historical importance, but which could not be answered with the data at hand.
A thread on something we rarely talk about (except as a potential limitation): external confirmation of results. The number to remember here is 2.5%
When @drlisadcook and @jmparman and I were working on historical black names we faced several problems. First, nobody ever said that there were black names historically. All of the literature says that black names began after the Civil Rights Movement.
There are some famous papers which use black names to uncover discrimination in the labor market, for example, and other works that finds no effects to having a black name.
The faux argument of “economic anxiety” has its roots in Reconstruction. It’s an old trope for racialized policy and voter intimidation. It was a lie then and it’s a lie today. (A history thread)
After the Panic of 1873 the nation was in a deep recession (this is what was called the Great Depression before 1929, in fact). But racist politicians used this to their advantage to wage political war on racial inequality.
Even though poor whites in particular benefited from the expansion of public goods during Reconstruction, they voted to oust Republican candidates and dramatically lower public goods expenditures. And this was due to racism being more salient than public goods.
In my latest project I’ve been collecting some of the most fantastic information about African American economic history and political participation. It’s been very exciting. It’s also helped me to realize the limited confines of contemporary economic history.
Exhibit A: I was graciously granted access to the poll tax receipts of Frank and Doris Conic. They lived in Jackson, MS. Mr. Conic died in 2005. This a poll tax receipt from 1940:
There is a lot of information on that poll tax receipt. We have his name, his address, and the poll tax, which was $2.00. Many economic historians would take this information and locate Frank and Doris in the census. In 1940 that would give us additional information.
This Spring semester I was moved by the @nytimes open by @dynarski to enact a technology ban in my courses. No laptops, tablets, phones, nothing. I was curious to see what would happen. Now the results are now in!
Student performance improved, especially on the earliest midterms. Results were significant—average scores were about half a standard deviation higher than previous offerings. This is well above the long run average in both courses— this term was an outlier.
Most surprising is that students noted the policy in their evaluations of the course— about 25% mentioned it in their open ended comments. And everyone who talked about it enthusiastically endorsed it.
As promised to @WorldProfessor here is a thread on how I teach US slavery in my course on American economic history. (Long thread follows)
Preliminaries: Slavery as a unit comes after macro measures and after labor markets, but students already see southern labor markets after the Civil War as outliers. They also have seen C Goldin and K Sokoloff on regional differences in productivity, & Fogel on measurement
I begin with Fogel “Three phases” (AER) as an overview of the general themes that economists have concerned themselves with re: US slavery. Defines the issues that economists saw as important and how the issue of profitability led to further investigation of the institution.