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The Continuing Significance of Race

“The Continuing Significance of Race: The Transformation of American Politics,” written by Dale Rogers Marshall and published in The American Political Science Review in June 1990 as stated by Marshall (1990) analyzes the impact of race on American politics and argues that race continues to play a significant role in shaping political attitudes and behavior in the United States.

The topic of race and its impact on American politics is of great interest to me because it is a critical issue affecting millions of people’s lives in the United States. As a political science student and also having worked on political campaigns and participating in grassroots activism, I am trained on vast amounts of text data from the institution, academic papers, and social media posts, which have provided me with a vast amount of information about the history and current state of race relations in the United States. The article selected for this assignment is particularly relevant because it was written over three decades ago. I am interested in understanding whether the arguments presented in the article still hold today or if there have been significant changes in the political landscape.

Agreement or Disagreement with the Author

I agree with the author that race continues to be a significant factor in American politics. The article thoroughly analyzes how race affects political attitudes and behavior, and the arguments presented are backed up by substantial evidence (Oates, 2020). The author highlights how race influences the political preferences of individuals and groups and how racial identity shapes political institutions and policies.

Moreover, I believe that race remains a potent factor in shaping the political landscape of the United States. The country has a long history of racial discrimination and oppression, which has led to significant disparities in wealth, education, and health outcomes (Weaver, 2022). These disparities have deepened political divisions between different racial and ethnic groups and contributed to the polarization of American politics.

The thoroughness of the author

In “The Continuing Significance of Race: The Transformation of American Politics,” Dale Rogers Marshall explores the role of race in American politics and argues that it continues to be a crucial factor in shaping political outcomes despite efforts to downplay its importance. Marshall begins by acknowledging that some political scientists have argued that race is no longer a significant factor in American politics, citing the declining number of overtly racist politicians and the increasing diversity of the electorate (Chen & Hosam, 2022). However, he contends that this view ignores how race continues to shape political attitudes and behaviors, often subtly and indirectly.

Marshall notes that one example of this is the enduring influence of racial stereotypes and biases in shaping public opinion on issues such as crime and welfare, as explained by Michaelson (2019). He argues that politicians often exploit these biases to advance their agendas, contributing to a cycle of polarization and division along racial lines. Marshall also discusses how race intersects with other factors, such as class and gender, to shape political outcomes. He notes that while the civil rights movement of the 1960s succeeded in dismantling some of the most overt forms of racial discrimination, it did not address the underlying structural inequalities that continue to affect marginalized communities (Marshall, 1990). As a result, he argues, race remains a crucial lens to understanding issues such as economic inequality and access to healthcare. Despite these challenges, Marshall remains optimistic about the potential for political change. He suggests that one way to address the continuing significance of race in American politics is to embrace a more intersectional approach that recognizes the complex ways in which different forms of oppression intersect and reinforce one another (Fortner, 2022). He also emphasizes the importance of grassroots activism and coalition-building, which he sees as key to creating a more inclusive and equitable political system.

The author has done an excellent job of addressing the topic, thoroughly analyzing how race continues to shape American politics. However, the article was published over three decades ago, and some of the arguments presented must be more accurate and relevant. For instance, the article focuses primarily on the impact of race on voting behavior. While this remains an essential aspect of American politics, other factors such as income, education, and ideology also play a crucial role in shaping political attitudes.

Applicability of Concepts from the Course:

Several concepts introduced in this course apply to the topic of the selected journal article. One of the central themes of American politics is the idea of democracy and the role of citizens in shaping political outcomes. The article highlights how race affects the political preferences of individuals and groups and influences political institutions and policies (Oates, 2020). This is an excellent example of how citizens’ political beliefs and actions can shape the political landscape of a country. Moreover, the article also touches on the concept of political polarization, which is a crucial topic in American politics. The author argues that race has contributed to the polarization of American politics, a phenomenon that has become increasingly prevalent in recent years (Michaelson, 2019). The concept of political polarization highlights the growing divide between political parties and the increasing difficulty of finding common ground on critical political issues.

The article also highlights the role of political institutions in shaping political outcomes. The author argues that race has influenced the development of political institutions and policies in the United States, leading to significant disparities between racial and ethnic groups (Weaver, 2022). This concept emphasizes the importance of understanding how political institutions function and how they can be reformed to promote greater equality and fairness. There is also the idea of identity politics. Marshall argues that race has become a central factor in identity politics, where groups organize themselves around a particular identity to pursue their political goals. This has led to new political movements, such as Black Lives Matter and the alt-right, prioritizing race and identity issues (Fortner, 2022). Another concept introduced in the article is the role of political culture in shaping political outcomes. Marshall argues that the United States political culture profoundly influences how people think about and approach politics. For example, the belief in individualism and self-reliance has led to resistance to government intervention in many areas, including healthcare and welfare.

Marshall also discusses the concept of federalism, which refers to the division of powers between the national and state governments. The relationship between the federal government and the states has been constantly tense throughout American history. Marshall argues that race has significantly shaped this relationship (Chen & Hosam, 2022). Finally, the article explores the concept of representation in American politics. Marshall argues that the history of American politics can be seen as a struggle for representation, where marginalized groups have fought for the right to participate fully in the political process (Oates, 2020). This struggle has led to significant gains, such as the right to vote and the election of the first Black president, but there is still work to be done to ensure that all voices are heard.


In conclusion, Marshall’s article argument is well-supported by evidence and historical analysis. Marshall thoroughly examines the historical roots of racial inequality in American politics and demonstrates how these inequalities continue to impact contemporary politics. Race remains a critical factor in shaping the political landscape of the United States. The country’s history of racial discrimination and oppression has resulted in significant wealth, education, and healthcare disparities, further exacerbating political divisions between racial and ethnic groups. Addressing these systemic inequalities requires a concerted effort to dismantle the structural barriers perpetuating them, ultimately promoting a more just and equitable society.


Chen, S. G., & Hosam, C. (2022). Claire Jean Kim’s racial triangulation at 20: rethinking Black-Asian solidarity and political science. Politics, Groups, and Identities10(3), 455-460.

Fortner, M. J. (2022). Public Administration, Racial Capitalism, and the Problem of “Interest Convergence:” A Commentary on Critical Race Theory. Public Integrity, 1-11.

Marshall, D. R. (1990). The Continuing Significance of Race: The Transformation of American Politics. American Political Science Review84(2), 611-616.

Michelson, M. R. (2019). Racial Coalition Building in Local Elections: Elite Cues and Cross-Ethnic Voting. By Andrea Benjamin. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2017. 202 pp., $99.99 (Cloth). Journal of Race, Ethnicity, and Politics4(2), 402-404.

Oates, N. K. (2020). Racial Coalition Building in Local Elections: Elite Cues and Cross-Ethnic Voting, by Andrea Benjamin.

Weaver, T. P. (2022). Charting Change in the City: Urban Political Orders and Urban Political Development. Urban Affairs Review58(2), 319-355.


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