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The Hanes Walton, Jr. Endowment for Graduate Study in Racial and Ethnic Politics

The Hanes Walton, Jr. Endowment for Graduate Study in Racial and Ethnic Politics was established by Hanes Walton’s family, colleagues, mentees, and friends in order to continue his legacy of scholarship, teaching and mentoring. The Award is intended to support professional development of the recipient’s career. The stipend may be used for travel related to data collection, academic collaborations or conference participation, summer courses at ISR, pilot research for a dissertation, or the purchase of research-related equipment.

Application Process

Applications are now open for this award! Get details and apply here by Feb. 13, 2024 at 11:59 p.m.

Applications will be accepted from graduate students at the University of Michigan Department of Political Science or Department of Afroamerican and African Studies. Up to $6,000 will be awarded.

Questions: Please email any questions to [email protected].

Award Winners

2023: Inconsistent Ambivalence: White Christians’ Responses to Calls for Racial Justice from the Pulpit

By Shayla Olson

Project Description

In my research, I seek to understand how racial politics play out in local religious spaces, and how racialized religious experiences shape group attitudes and policy preferences. As a white Christian myself, and coming to age during the Obama and Trump presidencies, I found myself perplexed by how the same group that taught me values of compassion and justice was the group that was integral in electing an openly racist President. I brought my experiences to the literature on racial attitudes and religion & politics to find answers. What I found is that while there is a rich literature demonstrating that religious behavior, beliefs, and affiliation are all influential in forming political preferences, there isn’t a lot of work centering the racialized formation of American religion and our measures of it. I posit that religion is relevant to politics also because religious experiences shape our broader cultural identities, including who is in our group, who is not, and the positions we should take towards these groups. Ultimately, my goal is not only to contribute to the literatures on racial attitudes and religion & politics; I hope that my research and my positionality within white Christian spaces will bring about positive change in white Christian churches.

2022: "To Be Both a Negro and an American": How Black Americans Reconcile Systemic Racism with the American Dream

By Zoe Walker

Project Description

My dissertation research addresses a fundamental puzzle in Black public opinion. That is, Black Americans embrace two conflicting beliefs: that racial discrimination against Blacks is ubiquitous and that America’s opportunity structure is fair and open to anyone willing to work hard. This internal conflict between believing that systemic racism exists and believing that the American dream can be achieved by anyone pushes many Blacks to explain racial disparities in terms of individual failings (like lack of motivation or poor work ethic) even as they acknowledge the existence of institutional racial bias. I further argue that ambivalence about the causes of racial inequality dilutes support for race-specific policy solutions to reduce inequality like reparations. My research is inspired largely by my own experiences and observations as a Black woman in America. I was told from a young age that I would need to work “twice as hard to get half as much” as a White person; but, if I did put in the work I could do whatever I wanted in life. The contrapositive of this advice was also repeated to me often: if you don’t succeed in life, you simply haven’t worked hard enough for it. This logic was often applied to anecdotes of Black friends or family members who strayed off the path or found themselves in trouble with law, in debt or in deep poverty. Even though it was implicitly agreed upon that Blacks face a great deal of discrimination, all of that could be avoided through hard work. Something about this advice never set right with me. But, it was not until I matriculated into graduate school that I found the language to articulate the concern I had with my family’s “wisdom”. In order to maintain their identities as Black people, they had no choice but to acknowledge the disadvantages that Blacks face because of their race. At the same time, in order to embrace their identities as Americans, they also wanted to believe that racial discrimination, albeit pervasive, is no match for hard work. Through my research, I hope to explain why and when Black Americans express these ambivalent beliefs about the persistence of racial inequality. I aim to show that rather than being immune to the claim that America is a “post racial” or “colorblind” society, Blacks have actually internalized this rhetoric (though not to the same extent that Whites have).

2021: The Ties That Bind: Race, Trauma, and Political Behavior

By Kamri Hudgins

Project Description

My research is centered around two very distinct concepts, trauma and the American political system. The main question my research focuses on is, how does trauma impact political behavior and attitudes of different racial groups. I am in the process of creating my own concept of political trauma, which is different from a sexual trauma or a physical trauma (such as someone being shot or being in a terrible car accident). This concept of political trauma is meant to give a voice to interactions people can have with the political system that are negative and can have not so good mental health effects. Within this, I also intend on grappling with the concept of racial trauma. For many minorities in this country, particularly Black Americans, our political and racial trauma may be hard or even impossible to separate. 

2020: The Right to Bare Arms: Representation of Michelle Obama in Political News Media

By Sydney L. Carr

Project Description

The overall purpose of this project is to understand whether stereotype-based discourse surrounding Michelle Obama has viable impacts on American public opinion. Specifically, Carr grounds this work in common tropes that have been used to characterize black women for centuries, such as the “mammy”, “sapphire”, and “jezebel.” Given the highly critical nature of political news media toward black women political figures and Michelle Obama more specifically, Carr expects this discourse to have a critical impact on public attitudes towards the former first lady. 


This project also hinges upon the premise that characterizations of Michelle Obama are different from that of their white and non-black female political figure counterparts. In order to demonstrate this, Carr will juxtapose Michelle Obama to current first lady Melania Trump to display the race-gendered nature of public descriptions of Michelle Obama. Using a survey experiment, Carr will analyze the extent to which the general American public uses stereotype-based wording and notions in order to describe and characterize the former first lady. The proposed study is part of a larger project that will examine the impact of trope-based discourse on American public opinion toward black female political figures, more generally, including Kamala Harris, Stacey Abrams, and Maxine Waters. 


2019: Black, Brown, and Blue: Racialized Police & Policing in the U.S.

By Mara Ostfeld and Brandon Romero

Project Description

Does ingroup policing affect how members of the ingroup interact with the state? A large body of work in political science and social psychology has explored how intergroup contact and conflict shape political attitudes and behavior, but less is known about how intragroup dynamics can shape the American experience for minority group members. More specifically, it is unknown whether being policed by members of one’s own ingroup affects political attitudes, participation, and interactions with state officials more broadly. For instance, are Latino’s individual attitudes and sense of political efficacy affected by the presence of Customs and Border Protection officers and what are the consequences of the overwhelming Latino presence within the CBP rank-and-file on Latino politics more generally? Are minority citizens residing in cities where police departments are largely made up of their in-group members more likely to be politically active and perceive government policing as more legitimate? Or does the presence of ingroup members simply magnify distrust when even the interests of ingroup members must be viewed with skepticism? The answer to these and similar questions remain largely unknown.

This project will explore how policing by ingroup members affects individual behavior for law enforcement officers and residents, including reported uses of force and civilian complaints. To supplement the observational data, a series of interviews will be conducted with Black and Latino police officers in Detroit to document levels of racial identification, in-group solidarity, feelings towards in- and outgroups, and whether this informs the individual officer’s approach to policing and exercises of discretion. Taken together, the observational analysis and findings from the interviews will inform the design of a field experiment that estimates the effect of community policing reforms on policing outcomes and officer attitudes.

2017: The Political Aftermath of Racial Hate Crime

By Robert Mickey and Kiela Crabtree

Project Description

The title of “Bomingham” has clung to the city of Birmingham, Alabama since 1963, when the city’s Sixteenth Street Baptist Church was bombed by white segregationists, resulting in the murder of four black girls who were preparing for church service in building’s basement. This incident turned the nation’s attention to the city, which had been deemed the\most segregated in America,” nally shining a light on what had become regular occurrences for Birmingham’s African-American residents (Connerly 2005). Between 1945-1963, the city of Birmingham was shaken by over 50 racially-motivated bombings, and data collected on these events will form the basis of a project that seeks to understand the lasting political consequences of hate crime in the United States.

With this project, I ask, under what circumstances are hate crimes ine ective means of political oppression? More speci cally, do such acts of violence and terrorism, which are intended to suppress minority groups, actually incite increased political activity over time? To answer these questions, I will apply a new lens of analysis to collections of archival material from 1945-1965 to gauge local political responses of African-Americans (and segregationists) to racially-motivated hate crimes committed against the black community in Birmingham, Alabama.

As Hanes Walton pieced together a vivid picture of African-American political behavior over the course of his career, I build on his endeavors with this project. Like Dr. Walton, I emphasize the importance of nuanced and contextual study of black politics. I do this by examining African- American political behavior in the aftermath of hate crime, but also by proposing to measure a concept where contemporaneous survey data falls short.

2018: Rethinking Ethnocentrism

By James Newburg

Project Description

With the recent political gains of populist and nativist movements in the United States and elsewhere, public opinion researchers are paying closer attention to the study of racial and ethnic group attitudes. At the same time, answering the question “how does race matter?” grows ever more challenging as countries become more ethnically diverse. In multiethnic societies such as the U.S., the task of measuring public attitudes toward racial and ethnic groups has become especially daunting for two reasons. First, the study of political conflict between any pair of groups, such as the White/ Black divide in the U.S., will become less informative as ethnic diversity increases. Second, with the number of politically salient ethnic groups set to grow over time, it will become cost-prohibitive for individual surveys to consistently measure attitudes toward all of these groups. As a result, the field will be increasingly ill-equipped to capture the complex dynamics of ethnic identity and attitudes in public opinion worldwide—even as their importance continues to grow.

This project, Rethinking Ethnocentrism, addresses this issue by taking a more general approach and studying a widely-shared foundation of racial and ethnic animus: ethnocentrism, the tendency of individuals to separate their society into a favored co-ethnic in-group and disfavored ethnic out-groups. This project examines the relationship between ethnocentrism and public opinion both (1) across Whites, Blacks, Latinos, and Asian Americans in the U.S., and (2) cross-nationally between the U.S. and the United Kingdom. Based on a theory derived from multiple research literatures in psychology, Newburg argues that ethnocentrism is best understood as the belief that one’s own ethnic group is more likely to be cooperative and less likely to engage in conflict than other ethnic groups in social interactions. He contends that ethnocentrism will be most salient when individuals can perceive a relationship between their political attitudes and the welfare of their ethnic in-group. Given the rising tide of populism and nativism in the U.S. and U.K., he expects to find that ethnocentrism has wide-ranging effects on public opinion.


2015: In-Group Stereotypes, Skin Tone, & Policy Support among Blacks

By Nicole Yadon

Project Description

This project will have a large impact on the field of political science. It will not only enrich the literature on public opinion, it will also enhance our understanding of black politics, black group heterogeneity, in-group stereotyping, and highlight the important yet understudied issue of colorism. Apart from seminal works from Dr. Walton and a handful of other scholars, too little empirical research has been devoted to understanding the important and complex topic of black politics. Indeed, too little research has been devoted to studying this phenomenon of black opinion becoming less liberal on certain policy opinions. Thus, this project will serve to illuminate this puzzle, propose potential mechanisms, and test them empirically. The combination of time series data from the ANES and GSS to inform the phenomenon, plus my innovative experiments using both closed-ended and open-ended questions, will provide a deeper insight into how blacks think about politics. Overall, this project will inform our understanding of group politics generally, black politics specifically, and stereotypes about the in-group broadly.

2014: Boston’s Black-Brown Freedom Struggle: Racial Politics and Coalition-Building, 1965-1985

By Tatiana M. F. Cruz and Matthew Countryman

Project Description

The dominant narrative of the civil rights movement has neglected crucial dimensions of postwar struggles for black freedom and equality. However, through frameworks such as Jacquelyn Dowd Hall’s “long civil rights movement,” many historians have explored where this master narrative falls short. Some have challenged the focus on charismatic male leadership and others have sought to expand the periodization and regional scope of the movement. In my research I build off this recent scholarship, highlighting the importance of local movements particularly in the urban north and the role of women and “everyday people” in struggles for freedom and equality.

Yet despite considerable developments in the field, Boston is rarely considered a significant place in the history of the civil rights movement. The limited scholarship on Boston’s racial history centers on the “busing crisis” of the 1970s and white working-class “backlash” to court-mandated desegregation of public schools. This work often portrays white Bostonians as northern liberals in a movement to protect “neighborhood schools,” and not as devout segregationists. It downplays the role of the state in enforcing racial segregation and sustaining the racial inequalities in the city. Recently, some strides have been made to challenge this dominant narrative and recover the history of Boston’s educational movement, yet this emerging scholarship furthers a black-white binary that renders all other groups such as Latinos invisible. In fact, the activist history of both African American and Latino communities in Boston is rich during the postwar era and encompassed much more than the struggle for educational equality.

2016: All Politics Are Regional: Examining the Effects of Regional Political Sub-culture and Sub-National Identities on Black Political Behavior

By Nick Valentino and Princess Williams

Project Description

This project will explore if whether there was a culture diasporic effect that occurred after the ‘Great Migration’ that created differences in African Americans’ political attitudes and behaviors in the Northeast, Midwest, and West, compared to African Americans in the South. The longer African Americans live in a particular region, and the extent to which they adopt the regional subculture and political norms of their current region, I suspect will have meaningful effects on how they view the political world compared to African Americans in other regions. I argue, this will provide evidence on regional distinctions in black political attitudes—for which I am proposing length of regional residence and regional identity measures. Understanding the extent to which regional subcultures create regional identities, and its influence on African Americans political attitudes and behavior can provide fruitful evidence detailing variation in black ideological identities, racial identities, in-group and out-group perceptions, and their policy preferences. This research can also improve the measurement of “region” in nationally representative surveys.

This award will allow me to make significant progress toward my degree; it will be the first causal evidence that I will get to combine with other descriptive work on racialized religious communication. I cannot thank the donors enough for this award. It is a great honor to be able to do this research with your support.

Shayla Olson

2023 recipient of the Hanes Walton, Jr. fellowship

The Hanes Walton, Jr. Fellowship will have a considerable impact on my academic career path as it will grant me the ability to conduct a series of surveys and obtain subsequent results before I begin the dissertation writing stage of my graduate school career. Again, I would like to wholeheartedly thank the donors, who contributed the funds for me to receive this award, as it will have a lasting impact on my academic career.

Sydney Carr

2020 recipient of the Hanes Walton, Jr. fellowship


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