I write about the interplay between racism, capitalism, politics, and the built environment in the twentieth century. My work pays special attention to people’s overlapping understandings of property rights and civil rights in the United States and the wider Americas.
My first book, A World More Concrete: Real Estate and the Remaking of Jim Crow South Florida, received, among other awards, the 2015 Liberty Legacy Foundation Book Award from the Organization of American Historians and the 2014 Kenneth T. Jackson Book Award from the Urban History Association. The book resuscitates older discussions of racism's profitability by treating Jim Crow segregation in Greater Miami as a variation on the colonial and postcolonial practices afflicting tropical populations around the world. A World More Concrete also highlights never-before-seen conflicts between tenants, urban landlords, homeowners, politicians, and property managers over how best to profit from Native Americans, Caribbean migrants, working-class whites, and the black poor.
I'm advancing, at present, two new book-length projects. The first is Four Daughters: An America Story. This collective biography covers three generations of a single family, following the lives of four women of color whose forbearers migrated from the Caribbean to the United States by way of Britain between the 1930s and 1990s. A genuinely Atlantic history, Four Daughters explores how immigrants of color and their children defined success in America during and after second-wave feminism, the civil rights movement, "right to work" politics, and the War on Drugs. My other book project expands on the intimate scale of Four Daughters to assess and synthesize broader trends, patterns, and processes. Black Capitalism: The "Negro Problem" and the American Economy offers the first sweeping account of how black economic success shaped the way Americans and immigrants understood the possibilities offered by capitalism in the United States. Apart from publishing in scholarly venues, I contribute frequently to public debates, including commentary for the New York Times and on various radio and television news outlets.
Essays and Articles
"Notes on a Desegregated Method: Learning from Michael Katz and Others," Journal of Urban History (forthcoming).
"Black Appointees, Political Legitimacy, and the American Presidency," in Recasting Presidential History, Brian Balogh and Bruce Schulman, eds. (Cornell University Press, forthcoming).
“Games of Chance: Jim Crow’s Entrepreneurs Bet on ‘Negro’ Law-and-Order,” in What’s Good for Business: Business and Politics Since World War II, Julian E. Zelizer and Kimberly Phillips-Fein, eds. (Oxford University Press, 2012), 140-156.
“Sunbelt Civil Rights: Urban Renewal and the Follies of Desegregation in Greater Miami,” in Sunbelt Rising: The Politics of Space, Place and Region in the American South and Southwest, Darren Dochuk and Michelle Nickerson, eds. (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2011), 164-187.
“Timely Innovations: Planes, Trains, and the ‘Whites Only’ Economy of a Pan American City,” Urban History 36, no. 2, Special Issue on Transnational Urbanism in the Americas (August 2009): 243-261.
“Colored, Caribbean, and Condemned: Miami’s Overtown District and the Cultural Expense of Progress, 1940-1970,” Caribbean Studies 34, no. 1 (January-June 2006): 3-60.
Book Reviews, Encyclopedia Entries, and Exhibit Catalogues
"Radical Moves: Caribbean Migrants and the Politics of Race in the Jazz Age, by Lara Putnam," Labor: Studies in Working-Class History of the Americas 11, no. 2 (Summer 2014): 131-133.
“The Condemnation of Blackness: Race, Crime, and the Making of Modern Urban America, by Khalil Gibran Muhammad,” Planning Perspectives 26, no. 4 (Oct. 2011): 691-692.
“How Does History Frame the Contemporary Perspective of Segregation in Baltimore? What Has Baltimore Overcome, and How Much of That Legacy Remains?,” Baltimore: Open City, exhibit catalogue (Baltimore: Maryland Institute College of Art, 2011): 96-97.
“The Problem of Jobs: Liberalism, Race, and Deindustrialization in Philadelphia, by Guian A. McKee,” Labor: Studies in Working-Class History of the Americas 7, no. 2 (Summer 2010): 123-125.
“The Last Darky: Bert Williams, Black-on-Black Minstrelsy, and the African Diaspora, by Louis Chude-Sokei” Wadabagei: A Journal of the Caribbean and Its Diaspora 10, no. 3 (May 2008): 114-117.
“Black Panther Party,” in Encyclopedia of Chicago, James R. Grossman, Ann Durkin Keating, and Janice L. Reiff, eds. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2004).