Corey D. Fields

Black Elephants in the Room

The Unexpected Politics of African American Republicans

University of California Press 2016

New Books in African American StudiesNew Books in American StudiesNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Political ScienceNew Books in PoliticsNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books in SociologyNew Books Network December 24, 2017 Sarah E. Patterson

What is it about Black Republicans that makes them fodder for comedy? How do Black Republicans view their participation in their political group? Corey...

What is it about Black Republicans that makes them fodder for comedy? How do Black Republicans view their participation in their political group? Corey D. Fields answers these questions and more in his new book, Black Elephants in the Room: The Unexpected Politics of African American Republicans (University of California Press, 2016). Using interviews and ethnographic data, Fields investigates how identity, race, and politics work together and influence each other. He finds two different lenses through which respondents see their Republican values: color-blind or race-conscious. Those who have a color-blind approach to their politics try not to emphasize race at all. In contrast, the race-conscious approach brings race to the forefront of any political argument. This book presents a fascinating case study. In addition to his interviews, Fields also presents historical background on the participation of African Americans in the Republican party across time and current day Black Republican organizations. Fields encourages the reader to move past seeing Black Republicans as a monolith, and instead appreciate the ways in which they are a heterogeneous group. Fields also encourages the reader to understand the ways in which politics may influence racial identity and vice versa.

This book will be of interest to sociologists, political scientists, and race scholars. Given the concepts used and the ideas raised in the book, it would be especially useful in a sociology of race class or political sociology course.


Sarah E. Patterson is a postdoc at the University of Western Ontario. You can tweet her at @spattersearch.

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