The Guyanese-born theorist Walter Rodney insisted that “new questions” are often demanded by “our predicament at the present time.” In the course of collaboratively writing this book over seven years, the predicaments of our times have mounted, and so have our questions. We thank the many interlocutors who helped us think through such questions, even when we had few answers.
We began thinking about this project in the wake of the 2010 midterm elections and the sudden escalation in attacks on public-sector unions and the parallel emergence of a new cadre of people of color within deeply conservative formations. We are thankful to have been able to share this work with colleagues at the Alliance for a Just Society; the Labor Research Colloquium, coordinated by Gordon Lafer and the University of Oregon Labor Education and Research Center; “Race, Law, and the American State: An Interdisciplinary Symposium” at University of Michigan Law School, cohosted by Matthew Lassiter and William Novak; annual meetings of the Western Political Science Association and the Social Science History Association; and the staff at the Service Employees International Union 1199NE. We thank American Quarterly editor Mari Yoshihara and several anonymous reviewers for invaluable feedback in strengthening our chapter on public-sector workers.
We thank Roopali Mukherjee, Sarah Banet-Weiser, and Herman Gray for including our essay “Theorizing Race in the Age of Inequality,” which draws from several chapters in this book, in their coedited volume Racism Postrace, as well as the feedback we received during the review process.
We presented versions of chapter 4 at the “Trump’s America” conference at the University College Dublin’s Clinton Institute in April 2017, as well as at the Ethnicity, Race, and Migration colloquium at Yale University. Participants in the 2017 African American Policy Forum Social Justice Writers Retreat, including Devon Carbado, Kimberlé Crenshaw, Barbara Arnwine, Ezra Young, Leah Goodridge, Jason Wu, Taneisha Means, Luke Harris, Sumi Cho, and Priscilla Yamin, provided generative feedback on a preliminary version of the Introduction. We also thank the Whiteness in the Americas Working Group convened by Carlos Vargas-Ramos and Ana Ramos-Zayas for workshopping chapter 2.
At the University of Minnesota Press, our editor, Pieter Martin, has been a thoughtful and engaged presence from the start, encouraging us to continue to develop the manuscript even as the conditions and forces we were writing about seemed to be changing daily. Lester Spence, Cristina Beltrán, and an anonymous reviewer selected by the Press offered generous and productive feedback on the first version of the manuscript; we are indebted for their careful engagement with our arguments and aspirations.
At different phases of the project we received advice, ideas, and inspiration from George Schulman, Peter Walker, Steve Beda, Raahi Reddy, Spencer Sunshine, George Lipsitz, Daria Roithmayr, Priscilla Yamin, Laura Pulido, Rachael Bowen, Loren Kajikawa, Norma Martinez-HoSang, and the late Sandi Morgen. Our experiences serving on the Organizing Committee and Executive Council of the faculty union at the University of Oregon, United Academics, AAUP/AFT Local 3209, AFL-CIO, helped us to think in concrete ways about the attacks on public-sector workers and the resistance that such attacks can inspire.
At the eleventh hour, the work of research assistant Karen Marks allowed us to meet our deadlines. We also thank the University of Oregon’s Department of Political Science and Department of Ethnic Studies and Yale University’s American Studies and Ethnicity, Race, and Migration units for funding and support that made this book possible. For permission to republish photographs, we acknowledge Peter Walker, Jessica Campbell and the Rural Organizing Project, and Sam Schaffer.
Collaborative intellectual projects depend on trust, generosity, and shared political groundings. These qualities have never been in short supply in our friendship and writing partnership, and they helped strengthen this book at every turn. Our families have endured our obsession with this project and its long timeline. Thank you to Ben, Adam, Priscilla, Norma, Isaac, Umai, and Pablo, for everything.