Broadly, my research focuses on the way that race has shaped the political development of American institutions, public law, and public policy. My work pays careful attention to ways in which race has been used in the United States to separate, segregate, and channel individuals and groups into different lanes of civic worth and opportunity. Through careful archival analysis of several issue areas, I trace how race has been used by various actors to shape political philosophy and policy demands – thus demonstrating the central role of race to the understanding the American state. In examining the role of race, my research pays close attention to the limitations and unintended consequences of historical efforts to address Black political demands. My research spans the areas of African American political thought, political economy, public law, and American political development.
Much of my work examines how social policy developments have shaped the incorporation of minority groups, the scope of the broader social welfare state, the experience of citizenship, and the conceptualization of democracy in the United States. My contributions provide a new perspective to American political development, showing how debates about race, democracy, and capitalism shaped the mid-twentieth century expansion of a number of policy areas – particularly the federal education state. I trace how these developments stunted the growth of an expansive welfare state, limited the demands of racial minorities, and ultimately hobbled the democratic responsiveness of social policy in the United States.